Second Year Project

Students enrolled in the doctoral program will be required to produce an original empirical research paper by the end of the second full year of study. The research will be presented in a poster session as part of a Department Colloquium.

Second Year Project Goals

  • To provide a mechanism for students to gain experience in conducting independent empirical research prior to embarking on their dissertation research.
  • To provide a means for faculty to evaluate students’ ability for conducting such research.
  • To introduce students early in their careers to important professional skills such as producing high quality scholarly work by a specified deadline, and making professional research presentations.
  • To provide an important socialization and community-building event, in the form of the yearly seminar, for the department and graduate field as a whole.

Second Year Project Procedure

  • At the end of the second semester of the Ph.D. program, each student should begin work with his/her advisor to identify an empirical research project on which s/he will take the scholarly lead.
    • This might be an entirely independent project or a component of a group project for which the student will have primary responsibility. It might be a project based in a course, or it might be independent of coursework. It might be a project that is intended to explore a potential dissertation topic, or it might be unrelated to the student’s intended dissertation research.
    • The key requirement is for the student to be the primary intellectual leader of the project.
    • The main advisor for the project may be any member of the Communication Graduate Field Faculty (not necessarily the Chair of the student’s Special Committee).
    • The student with the advisor will identify an outlet for the research paper and follow its guidelines for submission (e.g., formatting, length, etc.). Outlets include journals (e.g. Journal of Communication) or archived and peer-reviewed full proceedings (e.g. CHI, CSCW).
  • By May 1st of the second year of study, the student should submit to the main advisor at least a three-page summary of the project’s status (a draft paper would also meet this requirement). This summary will be available to all faculty during the Field’s annual assessment of student progress.
  • By August 15th of the summer following the second year of study, students should submit to the project advisor a completed paper, in polished form appropriate for submission to a conference or journal. The final draft copies should be submitted to the student’s project advisor and Special Committee. This version should have been reviewed extensively by the project advisor. Plan therefore on getting initial drafts to the advisor by late June to allow time for revisions.
  • During September of the third year of study, students who have recently completed their Second Year projects will formally present them during a Department Colloquium.

Second Year Project Evaluation

  • Faculty, staff, and students who attend the poster session are invited to fill out evaluation to provide student presenters with feedback. These evaluations are informal and returned to the student presenters following the poster session.
  • For formal evaluation, the primary project advisor will provide brief written assessments of the project, including both the paper and the presentation, and make a recommendation for a pass or fail to the student's Special Committee Chair. Members of the Field who attended the presentation are welcome to provide feedback to the Committee Chair. The Committee Chair will provide written assessments of the formal paper to the student and the Director of Graduate Studies by September 30th.
  • In addition, the Director of Graduate Studies will provide the Field with a judgment based on the Special Committee’s feedback and assessment about the  student’s suitability for continuing in the program. If the assessment is negative, the Director of Graduate Studies, in conjunction with the Special Committee Chair, will meet with the student to discuss the suitability of continuing in the program. Subsequent decisions about funding and other support will be affected by the assessment.
  • Students who fail to meet the deadline for the written or oral versions of the Second Year Project will be considered to not being making satisfactory progress toward their degree. This will affect their status in the program, particularly their continuing ability to receive funding in the form of teaching or research assistantships.