Progress Reports

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Progress Report Requirements and Guidelines

Please note that there are two different annual reports: Progress Reports (described here) and Supervisory Committee Meetings Reports.
These are NOT the same thing!

  • The Progress Report is an annual requirement for all graduate students in PNB. It is an internal PNB process.
  • The Supervisory Committee Meetings Report is completed at the time of each supervisory committee meeting, and is a requirement for all graduate students at McMaster. It is a School of Graduate Studies (SGS) process.

Progress Reports are due on May 15th each year.

  • Submit your Progress Report to each member of your supervisory committee.
  • Your supervisory committee will read the report, provide feedback to you, and submit evaluations to the Graduate Chair (see below for details).

This section will provide tips and guidance for completing progress reports.
If there is a conflict between the guidelines presented here and the advice of your committee, then please follow the advice of your committee. This section is intended for use by those who are unsure of what is required in a progress report, and does not contain a set of criteria that must be met by all students.

A progress report contains the following sections: Overview, Sample of Writing, and Research Plan.

Evaluation

The progress report provides an opportunity for committee members to evaluate and contribute to the research progress made by students. Progress reports are marked by each member of the student’s supervisory committee as being ‘satisfactory’, ‘borderline’, or ‘unsatisfactory’, in each of three areas: (1) content, (2) presentation, and (3) progress toward the degree. These evaluations are internal to PNB, they are not shared with the School of Graduate Studies (SGS). The scores will be reviewed by the PNB Graduate Studies Committee (GSC) and the Graduate Chair in June. Graduate students will receive their scores in July.

Part I - Overview

It may be useful to provide a summary of the following for your committee:

(1) All courses completed and grades: Indicate which courses satisfy degree requirements. List courses completed across all years in the program.

(2) Comprehensive Exam Status (if applicable): Indicate whether the comprehensive exam has been completed. If it has not been completed, provide a date by which you expect it to be completed.

(3) Teaching Assistantships completed: List teaching assistantships completed across all years in the program.

(4) Scholarships: List scholarships awarded across all years in the program.

(5) Publications: List all published papers, in press papers, and submitted papers.

(6) Conference presentations: List all conference presentations.

(7) Other relevant activities: List any other contributions to research, teaching, administration, or outreach not covered in any of the above items (e.g, committee work, community outreach, media interviews, mentorship of students, etc).

Part II – Sample of Writing

Append a selected sample of your writing that relates to research completed in the past year. You should consult with your supervisory committee (and in particular your supervisor) beforehand to reach an agreement on an appropriate sample of writing. A suggested length for the sample of writing is anywhere from 5 to 30 pages double-spaced. Exceptions to this length guideline should be cleared with your supervisory committee.

The sample of writing should be part of ongoing research, rather than an extra piece of writing that serves no purpose other than to satisfy the progress report requirement. With this in mind, some suitable samples of writing include:

  • A manuscript that you are currently writing, a paper that you have submitted, or a paper that you have published, within the past year
  • Part of a manuscript that you intend to submit in the future (e.g., the introduction section of a manuscript)
  • Part of your thesis (e.g., the introduction to your thesis, or a sub-section of the introduction to your thesis)
  • A literature review that your committee sees as integral to your research progress (and that might ultimately find its way, in one form or other, into your thesis!)
  • An outline of a series of experiments that you intend to complete (keeping in mind that this outline ought to prove useful when writing up a manuscript at some later point in time)

This is not an exhaustive list of possible writing samples. If you have something else in mind that you think would be appropriate, please consult with your committee. The one guideline that your committees will follow consistently is that the sample of writing should be part of your ongoing research program, and NOT some additional piece of writing that serves only to satisfy the requirements of the progress report.

Part III – Research Plan

A brief description (maximum two pages double-spaced) of the research you plan to conduct in the coming year. Talk to your committee about what they would like to see in this section.

Note that for a couple of years this section was optional. However, the PNB Graduate Studies Committee received enough feedback from committee members who want to see this section that it was made mandatory again. This year, under the uncertainty of COVID-19, this section may be even more important to your committee. You might not know what next year will look like from here, so don't worry about having a plan fully worked out. This year especially it is a useful exercise to consider what you might do next year. You will not be evaluated negatively for not having a plan. Use this space to talk a little about how your plans might change and how the uncertainty affects you.