Evaluation Guidelines for the Thesis Research Proposal and Fellowship Application

Below are questions a reviewer will use to evaluate a thesis proposal.

Questions about the Project Description (IV)

  1. Was the Project Description understandable and well-written? Were figures, charts or graphs used, where appropriate, to aid in the explanation?
  2. Is there a clear question posed? Or, for creative or non-traditional theses, is there a clear project proposed?
  3. Is there a plan for how to answer the question or how to accomplish the work proposed in the project?
  4. Is the importance of the work and how it fits into a larger context presented?
  5. In theory, the thesis writer has been working on the project since January 1 (and thinking about it for longer). Does the proposal reflect this in general? Is there a discussion of progress made to date?
  6. Is there an appreciation or discussion of the accomplishments of others supported with references in the Bibliography (VI)?
  7. Does IRB, RREC or IACUC approval seem necessary? Has the student taken appropriate first steps?

Questions about the Entire Proposal

  1. Do the Title and Abstract (II) represent well the ideas presented in the Project Description?
  2. Is the proposal complete? Are Sections I-VIII present? Should there be Appendices (IX) or a Palermo Founders Fund Application (X)?
  3. Is the Budget (VII) accurate, clear and justified? Are there specific cuts that you suggest and why? This is not about suggesting reduced funding due to general quality of the proposal. The intent of this question is to identify when the student has access to other (campus) resources he/she may not have known about. The intent is also to identify costs that are excluded or questionable via the Guidelines.
  4. Does the Timeline (V) indicate achievable milestones?
  5. Does the Letter of Support (VIII) from the Thesis Mentor discuss the appropriateness of the budget request, and the tangible support the advisor can provide including space, supplies, equipment, and access to contacts necessary for the completion of the research?
  6. Has the student taken the additional step to apply for a national award?