Third Year Milestone

section III, article 6-B

Proposal development is a critical skill for scholars. Success in research and teaching arises from the ability to recognize problems and creatively address them. In the process of creating research proposals, scholars practice critical thinking, evaluate the work of others, and become more familiar with the scientific literature. 

In the Third Year Milestone, scholars will prepare three one-page research pre-proposals. Pre-proposals are not full proposals or completely-researched proposals. The pre-proposals provide an opportunity for faculty to coach scholars to successfully prepare an original research proposal for the Fourth Year Milestone.  


  • One pre-proposal may describe the scholar’s short-term proposed research activities specific to the research agenda of their primary research mentor’s laboratory. 
  • Two pre-proposals must describe a scholar’s research idea that is independent of the specific research aims of their primary research mentor’s laboratory. 

Format and Content

Scholars should prepare each pre-proposal using the “quad sheet” format taught in the proposal course (CHEM 597R). A quad sheet format template is available.

  1. Objective and Motivation
    Identify the gap in knowledge, and its importance. 
  2. Hypothesis 
    What must be tested to achieve the objective?  
  3. Scientific / Technical Approach
    Concisely describe a proof-of-principle experiment. 
  4. Impact
    Describe expected outcomes and new knowledge arising from the proposed research.

Ideally, each quadrant will include a descriptive graphic and one or a few sentences of relevant text.

Assessment Criteria

Faculty will provide feedback on the following criteria: 

  1. Importance of the problem, and necessity for a new approach; 
  2. Novelty of the hypothesis; 
  3. Creativity and practicality of the scholar’s approach to the problem; 
  4. Quality of the quadrant chart presentation. 

Scholars are required to enroll in CHEM 798C to receive course credit for proposal preparation and presentation. Scholars should enroll in the semester in which they plan to complete the requirement.

Assessment Timeline

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