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                                                                                                               What is a thesis Committee? 
  
Download first Committee report  

Download second or third Committee report 


A thesis committee is a small group (4 max) of senior colleagues who help you plan and canalize your thesis work. Of course your supervisor does this, but two opinions are often better than one and three even better and the discussion that puts them all together the most valuable of all. That is why, though of course the doctoral school considers your supervisor capable of directing a thesis, you need a thesis committee as well.
  

Your thesis committee should cover the various areas of your thesis. It is important that the committee members be people you feel comfortable discussing with. It is not very useful to put the person in the office next door on your committee, since presumably you will be able to discuss with her or him regularly anyway.

Your supervisor will help you chose the people you would like to suggest as thesis committee members. 
Then you must submit the list for approval to your thesis committee correspondent (see the list for the different labs), explaining, briefly, why these are the appropriate people.

Please, as soon as you have determined the members of the committee, send their names and contact details to the secretary of the doctoral school. We have information to send them.

Also, when you have fixed a place and time for your meeting, please inform us. A representative of the doctoral school may attend your thesis committee meeting. We are, in the first place, fundamentally interested and we like to know how the projects are developing and how you are progressing in your work. We probably will not be able to be at all, so please do not be vexed either if we do come or if we do not. On the other hand, if there is a problem and you particularly want our presence, just say so and we will do our very best to be there.  

Please send your committee a document outlining your presentation: the background, the major scientific question, the hypotheses you plan to test and how you will go about doing this, i.e. the experiments you plan to carry out and the methods you will apply for the first meeting, and for the second the questions, hypotheses and results.   

                                                                                                        First thesis committee meeting:

 Download first Committee report  

 Please organize a thesis committee meeting within the first year of your doctoral work. Your reinscription in the second year will be dependent on your having already held or at the very least organised a thesis committee meeting. The first meeting will be for you to present your project and your plans, so it is most useful if it takes place within the first 6-9 months of the doctoral work. If you start your thesis with a clear idea of what you want to do the meeting can take place right away. This will be the case for students who did their Master research on the subject. The other students will need a bit of time to read and think about the project before being able to present it as their own subject. For these students the first meeting might take place up to 9 months after the start of the thesis.
  

Your committee will not expect to see results at the first meeting. They want to see your plans for your research but also perhaps your plan for courses you want to take. The second meeting should take place after you have some results and when you are starting to think about how to structure them into the final product – the thesis and the articles (though of course you should not wait for a thesis committee meeting to write manuscripts). Most thesis committee meetings involve a presentation that is short enough to leave plenty of time for fruitful discussion.
 
                                                                                                    Second thesis committee meeting:

 Download second or third Committee report 

Please organise a second meeting when you have some results and want to discuss the nest steps. You may already be ready to also discuss how you will structure the final product that will be your thesis and your articles and what you intend to do afterwards. Alternatively you may want to organise a third meeting to discuss the structure of your thesis and your post-doctoral plans. 

In general…   

After your committee meeting it is VERY IMPORTANT that you write a brief report. I cannot stress enough the importance of this document, because it synthesises and integrates the opinions of your committee members about how you will spend the next year. This is not trivial. Please, at the issue of the committee, think about what was said (for which you took very good notes, of course) and rewrite your research plans integrating these elements. Commonly projects are too ambitions and the committee’s job is to help focus and prioritise, so the report should tell which work should be undertaken first.  This CONCISE report should be discussed with your supervisor and sent to the committee members for approval to make sure you took everything into account and correctly interpreted what was said. The approved report MUST be sent to the doctoral school and should accompany your dossier for registering for your next year of doctoral studies.   Please note that the thesis committee itself can change over the course of the thesis. If a topic in abandoned or a new one developed then it may be appropriate to alter the composition of the committee. If there is a reason to do this then of course you should.  

You are free to organise the meeting as you (and your supervisor) wish but please follow these guidelines:

  • - Do not take too much time for a formal presentation. Discussion time is often more valuable, though of course the committee must be clear about 

what you plan to do and how.  

  • - Do not hesitate to point out problems. That is the purpose of the thesis committee. They are not there to judge or to examine you, but to help you solve problems.  
  • - Please schedule a period of discussion with only the committee members. Perhaps your supervisor would volunteer to go out to make coffee after a couple of hours so that you can have a time 15 minutes or longer, if you feel that you need this, alone with the committee without your supervisor.  

As a last note: of course we are doing this because we think it is a good idea and will help you do the best thesis possible. It would, therefore, be vary useful to have your comments on the value of the thesis committee and the meetings you held. This would be treated confidentially.