School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine

Guidelines for Dissertation Committee Meetings

The purpose of the dissertation committee is to provide a wide range of faculty expertise that will contribute ideas and suggestions to the progression and successful completion of the Ph.D. dissertation project. Students are required to meet with their dissertation committee once every 6 months after the Prospectus meeting.

Format for the Dissertation Committee Meeting
It is the student’s responsibility to schedule each dissertation committee meeting. Each meeting consists of a student oral presentation (PowerPoint talk) that briefly reminds the committee of the specific aims of the project before proceeding to the experimental results obtained from each specific aim. The student should be prepared to answer questions during the presentation as per the request of individual committee members.

After the student's presentation, each member of the dissertation committee will have an opportunity to make comments and suggestions designed to strengthen the project. The Graduate Director will take careful notes on committee suggestions during the meeting that will be referred to in future meetings.

During the meeting, the advisor should not attempt to speak on behalf of the student. The advisor can help ensure that committee suggestions stay within the boundaries of the project and inform the committee whether the suggestions are feasible within a reasonable time frame that will ensure the successful completion of the project.

All subsequent meetings held every 6 months should focus on new results obtained for each Specific Aim of the project. The student should present these results in Powerpoint format at each meeting. If significant changes are made to the project that go beyond the original Prospectus, the student should provide this information to the committee in written format as an Addendum to the Prospectus.

How to Act Upon Committee Suggestions
The student is expected to act upon the suggestions of the committee in consultation with the advisor. The student and advisor may decide jointly that certain suggestions should be incorporated into the project while other suggestions may be rejected. Under circumstances of rejection, the student must convey the rationale for rejection in writing (email is acceptable) to the committee. Sample reasons include problems of feasibility or detraction from the original specific aims of the project. If the rationale for rejecting a suggestion is not considered acceptable by committee members, another meeting must be called to resolve the issue. If such a meeting is necessary, the Graduate Officer will attend in order to mediate the process.

Dissertation Committee Meeting Report
During the meeting, the Graduate Director records committee suggestions on a departmental Dissertation Committee Meeting Report form (see below). This form provides written documentation of committee suggestions that must be addressed at future Dissertation Committee meetings. The final report should state the committee’s agreement that the student should proceed to the writing phase of the Defense of the Dissertation.

There are no university forms to submit for the Dissertation Committee Meeting.