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Theory And Methods Of Research (Or How To Be A Graduate Student)

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Developments in Chem Engineering Education Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1342.1 - 10.1342.10



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Paper Authors

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Joseph Holles

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Theory and Methods of Research (or How to Be a Graduate Student) Joseph H. Holles Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Michigan


Today’s graduate students are coming from increasingly diverse backgrounds. This includes students who were in the work force for a few years, students with many years experience now seeking professional degrees, international students as well as conventional students directly from undergraduate programs. While this breadth of backgrounds can result in a vibrant program it also may result in a wide range of ideas about what graduate school actually entails and what is expected of the students.

To help address this problem, a graduate course titled “Theory and Methods of Research” has been developed and is now required for all chemical engineering graduate students. The goal of this course is to systematically present to the students many of the common situations that make up the graduate school experience. This includes communication skills such as outlines, abstracts, proposals, journal articles, and oral presentations. Research oriented topics include discussion of the scientific method, research methods and instruments, and critical reviews of journal articles. Professional ethics as a student and researcher are also discussed. Other informative lectures cover subjects such as copyright, patents, and research notebooks. One central theme in this course is for the students to communicate often and effectively with their advisor. Thus students receive initial exposure to many subjects critical to future success in a way that allows subsequent development by their faculty advisor.

In this paper, the structure and content of this course will be presented. In addition, methods for incorporating multiple topics in a single assignment will be suggested. Comments and feedback from both students and faculty advisors will also be discussed.


In today’s university, there are fewer and fewer “typical graduate students.” Although some students do enter graduate school directly after completing their undergraduate program in the traditional manner, many do not. Alternatives include students working for a few years and then returning to graduate school, mid- or late-career professionals now seeking advanced degrees, and international students from numerous different countries. In addition, many traditional graduate students have their bachelor degrees in different disciplines. Many positives can result from this situation including a vibrant multi-generational and multi-cultural graduate program. However, it is also not without its shortcomings. Perhaps one of the most important issues to deal with is that a wide range of students can also result in a wide range of student concepts of and expectations for graduate school.

“Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education”

Holles, J. (2005, June), Theory And Methods Of Research (Or How To Be A Graduate Student) Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14774

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