Note on proposal writing for 2nd-year graduate students

People have asked about the proposal writing practice that is required in the 2nd year for a chemistry Ph.D. student. The following are Chong’s thoughts.

Proposal writing is important and part of the training in graduate school. The purpose of the whole practice is to evaluate the students’ capability of proposal writing, not their PIs’. While PI as a mentor is responsible in helping the students when writing the proposal, the PI should not get too much involved. It is up to the student how much effort his/she wants to put in. This also allows the other faculties to conduct a more appropriate evaluation of the student in the context of qualify exam.

Based on such logic, the following practice will be conducted in Chong’s group. The student should send Chong the proposal draft at least one week ahead of the deadline for Chong, and Chong will spend two hours over the whole draft during which he will comment on the proposal. Only two hours. Chong will stop working on it when the time is up even if there are more issues. After commenting on the file, Chong will discuss with the student in person to provide a rationale behind these comments. Chong recommends all students in the group to do a good job for the proposal before sending to Chong. If you submit the proposal less than one week before the deadline, Chong will not read it. In either case, Chong will let the student’s proposal to be sent out to other faculties for evaluation.