CID Summer 2005 Convening: Developing Researchers and Scholars

Topic 2: Conducting Research

The Ohio State University-Chemistry Department

This Snapshot describes how the doctoral program in the chemistry department helps teach students to conduct research.

Conducting research and scholarship includes designing specific research projects, learning research methods, conducting the investigation, and analyzing and interpreting the data to create meaning. These steps might be learned holistically or incrementally; they might be taught in the classroom or through hands-on apprenticeship; they might be practiced many times, or the dissertation might be the first complete piece of research a student conducts.

OSU Chemistry CID Page
Please visit our OSU Chemistry CID website!

OSU Chemistry Page
Welcome to The Ohio State University Department of Chemistry

Summary Description

  • Initial coursework to develop background necessary to conduct research
  • Literature oral exam / cumulative exams
  • Work with senior graduate students in the lab
  • Develop an original research proposal and defend it in the candidacy exam
  • Presentation of research in seminars
  • Presentation at research conferences
  • Students provided with teaching or research stipend

  • Tools and Resources

  • Space within the research lab of a given advisor
  • Guidance on the specific research project
  • Close working relationships with senior researchers in the lab
  • Informal group meetings and formal seminars as platforms for presenting research progress
  • Financial support in the form of teaching or research assistantships
  • Individual meetings with the advisor to discuss findings and future goals
  • Courses in advanced experimental techniques

  • Goals for Students

  • Develop expertise in a field of chemistry and the current knowledge in that field
  • Devise a hypothesis and execute a research strategy to test it
  • Communicate the findings to those in the field and to a general audience

  • Program Context

  • The doctoral degree in chemistry is a research degree
  • First year courses provide the background for research conducted over the next three years
  • First year literature oral exam insures that students understand the basis of research
  • Candidacy exam tests the students' ability to creatively define an important problem in the field and develop a viable solution using the literature to put the proposal into perspective
  • Seminar requirement provides a formal setting in which students show that they can explain and justify their research to peers
  • Doctoral dissertation and defense is a scholarly presentation on the student's individual contribution to science and their ability to conduct and communicate research directed at solving a problem at the highest level
  • Summary of Graduate Requirements
    You can view the program requirements for a Ph.D. in chemistry at Ohio State here.

    How Do We Know?

  • Job or postdoctoral placement
  • Number and quality of publications from Ph.D. work
  • Number of presentations at national conferences
  • Students who do not meet the goals leave without a Ph.D.

  • Unanswered Questions

  • Assess the success of the first year literature oral exam
  • - Are the literature exams a successful way of evaluating if students are prepared for research at the Ph.D. level?

  • Implement multidisciplinary Ph.D. track
  • - Are we sufficiently preparing students for careers that span traditional divisions?

  • Implement research component of the candidacy exam
  • - Evaluate students' research progress midway to graduation.

  • Evaluation of graduate curriculum- possible adoption of core courses
  • - Are we efficiently providing our students with enough breadth?

  • Possible introduction of graduate student lab rotations
  • - Will rotations better integrate students into the department?

    - Will they assist in the advisor selection process?

    Contact Information

    Contact person(s): Claudia Turro

    Email address:

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