2012 Dissertation Advisory Committee Guidelines
Each student should form and meet with his/her Dissertation Advisory Committee (DAC) as soon as possible after the qualifying exam is completed; but in all cases, by six months following completion of the PQE, and each 12-months thereafter until year 5 when meetings should convene each 6 months. DMS rules require G5 and higher students to meet every 6 months. The purpose of the committee is to follow the progress of the student, provide advice on the conduct of the dissertation research, and, ultimately, decide when the student is ready to complete the research and write a dissertation.
- The dissertation advisory committee includes three faculty members (in addition to the dissertation advisor) whose areas of concentration relate closely to projected direction of dissertation project. Three faculty members will be chosen by the joint decision of the student and dissertation advisor.
The list of possible faculty members must be submitted to the head of the Virology Program before faculty members are contacted. The Program Head will work with the student and their advisor to choose the best committee. Once approved, the student may then contact faculty members to serve on their DAC.
a. Usually members of the Harvard faculty, but may also come from other area faculties. The faculty should be broadly representative of relevant disciplines.
b. When there is a major shift in direction or new methodologies are to
be employed, additional members or replacement of members should be accomplished.
- The chair of the committee, generally a member of the Committee on Virology, should not be the dissertation advisor.
- Each student's dissertation advisory committee should meet at least every twelve months; additional meetings should be called as needed. In cases in which a student's studies have not been completed by the end of year four the Committee will meet at least every six months until the dissertation is completed. Meetings can be called by the student, the committee chair, or the dissertation advisor.
- The student should provide a report to the members of committee by one week prior to each meeting. This report should include 1. Introduction and Background. 2. Hypothesis(es) 3. Progress Report. 4 Proposed Experiments.
- The DAC meeting will consist of private meetings of the student and the advisor with the DAC followed by presentation of research progress and a summary of proposed future experiments. The meeting should conclude with the gathering of consensus of future priorities and experiments.
- Immediately after each meeting, a written report of the assessment of approach and progress should be made by the chair of the dissertation advisory committee. The report should include overall assessment and specific comments of the student’s progress, and whether the research direction and/or progress can plausibly lead to a dissertation. The report will then be signed, at the meeting, by the chair and each DAC member, indicating their approval. The completed report should be sent to the Committee on Virology administrator who will then send a copy to the student, advisor, Division of Medical Sciences, DAC Chair, Head of Program and the Chair of the Student Advisory Committee.
Role of the Dissertation Advisory Committee (DAC) 2012
For the DAC Chair
- When the DAC meeting begins, you should ask the student to step out of the room so you may discuss the progress of the student with the dissertation advisor. Please be brief. Once the student returns to the room you should ask the dissertation advisor to step out briefly. This will give the student the opportunity to mention anything that they are uncomfortable discussing with the dissertation advisor present. Please summarize the comments of the advisor and student on the report.
- Please ask the dissertation advisor if the Conflict of Interest form has been discussed with the student and that it has all the necessary signatures.
- The student will bring a DAC form with them to each meeting. Please complete your description of the dissertation progress at the meeting so that all members can sign and note their approval. This form should be returned to the Virology Program office. Please notify all members of the DAC that they should report any concerns that are not in the summary recommendations to the Program Office or directly to the Program Chair. Copies of all DAC reports will go to the student, dissertation advisor, DAC chair, Chair of Program and the Chair of the Student Advisory Committee.
- The DAC should also provide career advice to the student in the later stages of the dissertation research period.
- With the help of your dissertation advisor you should choose DAC members whose areas of concentration relate closely to your dissertation topic. These names should be submitted to Program Chair for approval before the potential members are contacted.
- You should form and meet with your DAC as soon as possible after your PQE, but in all cases, by 6 months after the PQE. Do no procrastinate setting up your first DAC meeting. Even though you may not have fully developed your dissertation project or do not have much data to show, this is not a reason to postpone your first meeting. This meeting is for your benefit and will help you explore possible projects.
- DAC meetings should be scheduled once a year during years three and four. You should meet at least every six months after year four. You can call a meeting anytime you feel it is necessary.
Decisions on Completion of Dissertation Research
One of the major contributions of the dissertation committee comes in assisting the Dissertation Advisor and the student in reaching the decision to close off further experimentation and begin writing.
Updated February, 2012