The Prospectus and Committee Approval

Prospectus Development

The prospectus process involves the following steps:

  1. You and your Committee Chair work together on defining a topic.
  2. You and your Committee Chair determine whether you should seek permission for your research. If your research involves humans, animals, and/or biosafety or radiation hazards, you may need to submit a proposal to the Office of Research Protections (http://researchprotections.appstate.edu/). Work with your committee chair to write the appropriate request for approval if necessary.
  3. Your committee Chair arranges a meeting of the full committee at which time you present the proposal for the research or creative work. In most programs, the prospectus defense is a formal scheduled event.
  4. The committee approves, recommends modification, or disapproves the prospectus. (There is no graduate school limit on the number of times a student may be required to present a prospectus to the committee; however, individual programs may impose a limit.) Once approved, your full committee should sign the Committee form (PDF, 89 KB).
  5. Submit the prospectus and committee form to the Graduate School. The Graduate School staff will check the following and notify you if there are any issues with the material via email to your appstate.edu account.
  • Committee Chair is a member of the graduate faculty (full member, not affiliate) from your home department/program.
  • All Committee members are members or affiliate members of the graduate faculty.
  • All approvals for research with humans, animals or biosafety/radiation hazards have been granted (if applicable).
  • Methodology is clearly described, including qualitative or quantitative techniques (if applicable).
Once the Committee membership and prospectus are approved by the Graduate Dean, you can proceed with your research and register for thesis or dissertation credits using a special course form.

Prospectus Content

A formal prospectus is the first document submitted in the course of writing a dissertation or thesis for many graduate programs. The prospectus should should include answers to the questions below.

Be sure to discuss the prospectus content and format with your Committee Chair. Most programs have specific requirements for the prospectus, ranging from answering each of these questions separately to incorporating answers to these questions in a larger, more comprehensive document.

  1. What is your topic? Why have you selected this topic, i.e., what is its significance?
  2. How does your topic fit within the larger scholarly conversation around the issue; e.g., what is the history of this topic, on what existing scholarship will your work be building, etc.?
  3. What methodology will you use and why?*
  4. Why did you choose the methodology? If your project is not creative or exploratory in nature, what do you expect to find?
  5. What is your specific role if the research is taking place in a team environment or in partnership with your advisor?
  6. What is your anticipated timeline, and is the topic reasonable given the time you have to devote?

*Note: If your methodology includes analysis of qualitative or quantitative data, please see the guidling questions below.

Guiding Questions for Design of Qualitative or Quantitative Data Analysis

Your prospectus should include a brief discussion of any statistical techniques you plan to use. The Graduate Council has established a list of guiding questions that can be used to guide you in developing your experimental design. You are strongly encouraged to discuss these questions with your Committee Chair and include a summary as part of your prospectus.


RESEARCH INVOLVING HUMAN OR ANIMAL SUBJECTS

Human Subjects

The primary responsibility for insuring ethical treatment of human subjects is the joint responsibility of the student and the Committee Chair. All graduate students whose research requires the use of human subjects must go through the mandatory CITI training program, which is available online. The links to the training modules are available on the Graduate School website.

Research involving human subjects will require the filing of a human subject clearance form with supporting documentation for review by the Institutional Review Board (IRB). Copies of the guidelines for treatment of human subjects, the application forms, and the links to the training modules are available on the office of Research Protections website under "Human Subjects" (http://researchprotections.appstate.edu/human-subjects) or contact them by email (IRB (at) AppState.edu).

Animal Subjects

Appalachian State University is committed to providing optimal care for the animals used for teaching and research. To this end, the University complies with Public Health Service policy related to the care and use of laboratory animals.

All graduate students whose research requires the use of animal subjects must go through the mandatory CITI training program, which is available online. The links to the training modules are available on the Graduate School website. It is the responsibility of all researchers, both faculty and students, to have all protocols involving the use of animals reviewed and approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) prior to initiating the project. Copies of the guidelines for treatment of human subjects, the application forms, and the links to the training modules are available on the office of Research Protections website under "Animals"  (http://researchprotections.appstate.edu/animals) or contact them by email (IACUC (at) AppState.edu).

 Recombinant DNA

Generally, the term recombinant DNA refers to novel "unnatural" DNA molecules that are engineered by joining natural or synthetic DNA segments to DNA molecules that can replicate in a living cell. All graduate students whose research requires the use of rDNA must be registered with the University IBC prior to initiation of their work and complete the required training.

For more information about the IBC, the training requirements and necessary forms, visit the Research Protections Website under Biosafety (http://researchprotections.appstate.edu/biosafety) or contact them by email (IBC (at) AppState.edu).

International Travel and Exportation

Export control regulations were established to protect U.S. national security and foreign policy interests.  These regulations govern the export of all items of U.S. origin as well as information and/or software that may be shared with foreign nationals in the U.S. or abroad. All graduate students whose research requires they travel internationally or export any object or idea should contact the export controls office to determine what additional paper work will be needed.

For more information about export controls, visit the Research Protections Website under international (http://researchprotections.appstate.edu/international) or contact them by email (compliance (at) AppState.edu).