Academic Policies & Procedures
Dissertation Research Committee
Upon successful completion of the qualifying examination, and admission to candidacy for the doctoral degree, the responsibilities of the advisory committee have been discharged, and that committee is technically disbanded. A new committee—the research committee—must be appointed for the purpose of guiding the candidate's dissertation research. In many instances the members of the advisory committee become members of the research committee. However, the actual makeup of the research committee will be determined by the nature of the research to be pursued and the interests and qualifications of faculty.
Membership on the research committee requires formal nomination and appointment procedures. The Ph.D. research committee must have at least four members. All members must have Indiana University graduate faculty status. The committee chair and at least one other member must be departmentally endorsed to chair graduate student committees. All dissertation research committees must include at least one member from outside the major department. Information regarding the eligibility of faculty to serve on the dissertation research committee is available in the School of Public Health - Bloomington Records Office in SPH 115, or online at http://graduate.indiana.edu/faculty-staff/membership.shtml.
Following official admission to candidacy, the doctoral candidate completes an online nomination of research committee request in Onestart. The online request process requires the student to submit the following items:
- The name and user ID of each desired research committee member.
- One or two-page prospectus of the dissertation research.
- If the proposed research involves human subjects, animals, biohazards, or radiation, approval from the appropriate university committee must also be obtained. It is most common for School of Public Health - Bloomington students to submit a copy of a signed Human Subjects Approval Form. Information about this approval process may be found at http://researchadmin.iu.edu/HumanSubjects/.
Important Note: A Ph.D. candidate may not defend the dissertation until at least six months have passed following official University Graduate School approval of the membership of the student’s research committee.
A student involved in participatory research projects may be unable to provide a signed Human Subjects Approval Form until the participants have developed research methods to be used. Such a student may temporarily substitute a letter for the signed copy of the Human Subjects Approval Form. The letter must:
- explain this predicament.
- be addressed to the associate dean of the University Graduate School.
- be signed by all members of the student’s research committee.
- be approved by the School of Public Health - Bloomington associate dean for research and graduate studies.
- be submitted with the online nomination of research committee membership request to the University Graduate School in place of the signed Human Subjects Approval Form.
Students involved in participatory research must obtain human subjects approval before beginning data collection.
It is expected that all doctoral candidates conduct their dissertation research under the direct supervision of a faculty member in the major department. Under certain circumstances it may be desirable to deviate from this policy. Within very strict limitations, and only with special permission, it may be possible to arrange for a specially qualified faculty member of another department to supervise the dissertation as either director of research or as co-chairperson of the research committee. In every case, however, the chairperson, or the co-chair, of the dissertation research committee must be in the major department.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Question: Does my advisory committee automatically become my research committee after I pass my qualifying examination?
Answer: No. The advisory committee disbands after they sign your Nomination to Candidacy for the Ph.D. Degree Form.
Question: How many research committee members do I need to have?
Question: What are the qualifications for faculty on a research committee?
Answer: All research committee members must have Indiana University graduate faculty status. In addition to graduate faculty status, the chair and one other member of the research committee must be endorsed to chair graduate student committees. One research committee member must be from a department outside the student’s major department.
Question: How do I find out if a faculty member is qualified to be on my research committee?
Answer: Visit SPH 115, to ask about it, or you may visit: http://graduate.indiana.edu/faculty-staff/membership.shtml. Open the MS Excel spreadsheet showing all faculty with graduate faculty status, and sort by “name.” Then scroll to look for your desired faculty member. This spreadsheet includes a column which notes whether or not each graduate faculty member is endorsed to chair graduate student committees. Faculty members with this endorsement will have an asterisk in that column. The research committee chair and one other member must have an asterisk denoting this endorsement.
Question: May I have more than four members on my research committee?
Answer: Yes, but please be aware that each extra person exponentially increases the level of difficulty in finding times when all committee members can meet.
Question: A faculty member on the IUPUI campus has agreed to serve on my dissertation research committee. Is this allowed?
Answer: The Graduate School’s list of graduate faculty also includes graduate faculty from regional IU campuses. IUPUI faculty members listed on the Graduate School’s graduate faculty listing are eligible to serve on the dissertation research committee of a School of Public Health - Bloomington Ph.D. student with the approval of the chair of the student's major department, the Executive Associate Dean of the School of Public Health - Bloomington, and the University Graduate School dean. Important: At least half of the student’s dissertation research committee members must be from the Bloomington campus.
Question: A faculty member from an academic institution, outside of IU, has agreed to serve on my dissertation research committee. Is this possible?
Answer: Four of the research committee members must have Indiana University graduate faculty status, which means they have to be IU faculty. However, with approval of the chair of a School of Public Health - Bloomington Ph.D. student’s dissertation research committee, it may be possible for a faculty member from an academic institution, outside of IU, serve on a dissertation committee as an extra member. The chair of the dissertation research committee must provide a memo addressed to the School of Public Health - Bloomington’s associate dean for research and graduate studies and the dean of the University Graduate School, stating what role this person would play in the completion of the student’s dissertation and why this person would be appropriate to serve on the committee as an extra member. The proposed member must also provide a curriculum vitae, which should be submitted with the chair’s memo. The request must be approved by both the associate dean for research and graduate studies in the School of Public Health - Bloomington and the dean of the University Graduate School.