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First Year Project and Symposium

Content and Requirements of the First Year Project
During the first year in the graduate program, each student will work on a research project under the direction of the advisor. The content of the project and nature of data analysis should be determined in close collaboration with the research advisor and the student's First Year Project Committee. The scope of the project will be determined by the advisor according to the skill level of the student and the requirements of the research. How much gets done, how final the product is, how complete the data analysis, and so forth, are matters that cannot be set generally for all laboratories. However, the following four characteristics are required of all first year research projects:
  1. The project must involve working with real data. Ordinarily this will mean collecting all or part of the data. However, it will sometimes be appropriate for a student to work on data collected by other laboratory members. Literature reviews, designs of experiments, research proposals, and so forth, are not acceptable by themselves.
  2. The data under study must undergo some kind of appropriate analysis. In the case of a completed experiment, this may be a partial or complete statistical analysis. In the case of pilot results the analy­sis may be aimed at assessing the viability of the project and describing results to date.
  3. The project must be written up briefly in APA style (10-15 pages is acceptable).  The write-up should include (a) why the project is being done, (b) what methods have been used, (c) what the results are to date and what they mean.
  4. The oral report of the project will be presented at the First Year Symposium and should be in the format of a convention paper. The time limit will be approximately 15 minutes with 5 minutes allowed for questions.
First Year Project Committee
As early as possible (no later than the second week of the Spring Semester), the Director of Graduate Studies will select a 3-person first year project faculty committee consisting of the research advisor, a faculty member in the same or a related area group, and a faculty member from an unrelated area group. No more than one joint/affiliated faculty member may count as a Psychology faculty member. The functions of the Committee include:
  1. Meeting with the student before the end of the Spring semester of the first year to provide feedback on the design and feasibility of the project, to assess progress on the project, and report to the Director of Graduate Studies. To meet this requirement, a confirmation of meeting report must be filed with the Director of Graduate Studies.
  2. Reading the write-up of the project.
  3. Holding a "defense" with the student shortly before or after the First Year Symposium. At the defense, the committee members should provide substantive feedback to and discussion with the student about the project.
  4. Meeting to evaluate the project and assign it a grade of “Accept” or “Reject.” (Note that this meeting need not be a separate meeting and instead may occur in the context of the Defense meeting.) Each committee will be required to provide written feedback to the student (individual members of the committee may provide individual written feedback to the student, or the committee as a whole may provide written feedback to the student).
First Year Project Committees must meet at least twice (i.e., in the Spring for the proposal meeting and in the Fall for the defense meeting).

Evaluation of the First Year Project
  1. Each new student will present his or her research to the faculty and other graduate students in a First Year Symposium. The Symposium will be held the last Friday in September or the first Friday in October of the student's second year (with the date adjusted from year to year to accommodate the Jewish holy days and other religious holidays).
  2. Three copies of the first year project are due to the Graduate Coordinator one week before the presentations.
  3. Each first year project will be read and evaluated by the student's First Year Project Committee according to the guidelines above.
Although some students may undertake projects that cannot be completed in a year's time, it is expected that every student will make at least a progress report on their first year research.

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