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Education / Postdoctoral Affairs / Trainee Handbook / Policies and Benefits / Expectations of Graduate Students

Expectations of Graduate Students

  1. The student acknowledges that he/she has the primary responsibility for the successful completion of his/her degree. The student will be committed to his/her graduate education and will demonstrate this by his/her efforts in the classroom and the research laboratory. The student will maintain a high level of professionalism, self-motivation, engagement, scientific curiosity, and ethical standards.
  2. The student will meet regularly with his/her research advisor and provide him/her with updates on the progress and results of his/her activities and experiments.
  3. The student will create an Individual Development Plan (IDP). In creating and developing the IDP, the student will work with his/her research advisor and other mentor(s) where appropriate. The IDP maps out the general path the student wants to take and helps match skills and strengths to career choices. Since needs and goals will evolve over time, the IDP should be revised and modified on a regular basis, no less that annually. Students may choose the type of IDP that works best for their needs. is one option that allows students to create IDPs free of charge.
  4. The student will work with his/her research advisor to develop a thesis/dissertation project. This will include establishing a timeline for each phase of his/her work. The student will strive to meet the established deadlines.
  5. The student will work with his/her research advisor to select a thesis/dissertation committee. The student will commit to meeting with this committee at least annually (or more frequently, according to program guidelines and/or student needs). The student will be responsive to the advice of and constructive criticism from his/her committee.
  6. The student will be knowledgeable of the policies and requirements of his/her graduate program, graduate school, and institution. The student will commit to meeting these requirements, including teaching responsibilities.
  7. The student will attend and participate in laboratory meetings, seminars and journal clubs that are part of his/her educational program.
  8. The student will comply with all institutional policies, including academic program milestones. The student will comply with both the letter and spirit of all institutional safe laboratory practices and animal-use and human-research policies at his/her institution.
  9. The student will participate in his/her institution’s Responsible Conduct of Research Training Program and practice those guidelines in conducting his/her thesis/dissertation research.
  10. The student will be a good lab citizen. The student will agree to take part in shared laboratory responsibilities and will use laboratory resources carefully and frugally. The student will maintain a safe and clean laboratory space. The student will be respectful of, tolerant of, and work collegially with all laboratory personnel.
  11. The student will maintain a detailed, organized, and accurate laboratory notebook and electronic data recorded directly from instruments. The student should be aware that his/her original notebooks and all tangible research data including the electronic copy of primary/raw data are the property of his/her institution but that he/she is able to take a copy of his/her notebooks and e-files with him/her after he/she completes his/her thesis/dissertation.
  12. The student will discuss policies on work hours, sick leave and vacation with his/her research advisor. The student will consult with his/her advisor and notify his/her graduate coordinator and fellow lab members in advance of any planned absences.
  13. The student will discuss policies on authorship and attendance at professional meetings with his/her research advisor. The student will work with his/her advisor to submit all relevant research results that are ready for publication in a timely manner prior to graduation.
  14. Publication in recognized, peer-reviewed journals is an important criterion of research productivity and quality. In addition, experience in the writing, revision and submission of research articles, is an essential aspect of graduate education in the sciences. Thus, the general expectation is that a student will have at least one first author or equivalent manuscript submitted to a peer-reviewed journal by the time of the thesis defense.
  15. The student acknowledges that it is primarily his/her responsibility to develop his/her career following the completion of his/her doctoral degree. The student will seek guidance from his/her research advisor, career counseling services, thesis/dissertation committee, other mentors, and any other resources available for advice on career plans.

This document sets forth expectations, and information that, by common consent, apply to the School of Medicine graduate student body as a whole. This document is subject to change and readers are reminded to seek out the most current version.

Source: Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC)
“Compact Between Biomedical Graduate Students and Their Research Advisors”, December 2008