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 the COMMColloquium Series.

Second-Year Project Goals

  • Mechanism for students to gain experience in conducting independent empirical research prior to embarking on their dissertation research.
  • Means for faculty to evaluate students’ ability to conduct such research.
  • 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.
  • Provide an important socialization and community-building event, in the form of the yearly poster session, for the department and graduate field as a whole.

Second-Year Project Procedure

  • At the end of the second semester of the PhD program, each student should begin work with their advisor to identify an empirical research project on which they 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 project advisor may be any member of the Communication Graduate Field Faculty (not necessarily the student's special committee chair).
    • In consultation with the project advisor, the student 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 1 of the second year of study, the student should submit at least a three-page summary of the project’s status to the project advisor (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 15 of the summer following the second year of study, students should submit a completed paper to their special committee chair and project advisor (if they are not one and the same), in polished form appropriate for submission to a conference or journal. Plan to get 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 an informal feedback form which will be given to the student presenters following the poster session.
  • For formal evaluation, the 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. The committee chair will provide written assessments of the formal paper to the student and the Director of Graduate Studies by September 30.
  • In addition, the Director of Graduate Studies will provide the Field with a judgment based on the special committee chair’s feedback and assessment of 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 be 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.