General Exam: Inorganic

Written Portion:

What are the pre-requirements?

  • Completion of all inorganic core courses.

When in my PhD timeline should I take it?

  • Students should take the General Exam within a semester after all inorganic division core courses (5324 through 5327) are completed.

When during the year is it offered? How is it announced? How much advanced notice is given?

  • Fall and spring semesters, or summer with approval of the Division.

What is the format? How long does the exam take?

  • The student will present an original proposal topic of their choice that may include their current research.
  • Approval of the proposal format by all Inorganic Division Faculty members is required. The final version of the approved proposal should be disseminated by the student in printed form to the Inorganic Division members.

Oral Portion:

 What are the pre-requirements?

  • Completion of all inorganic core courses.
  • Approval of the written portion.
  • Approval of the Plan of Study.

When in my PhD timeline should I take it?

  • Preferably within a month of approval of the written portion.

How long should the presentation be? What should I cover?

  • The oral presentation will be less than 30 min, followed by questioning by the audience/ faculty present.

Which (and how many) faculty members must attend the exam? What is the role of the general examiner?

  • At least five faculty members, including the student’s advisory committee, must attend the exam. The role of the general examiner is to ensure that a fair and comprehensive exam is administered.

When do I give my committee a copy of my proposal? How many days in advance of the exam?

  • The proposals are handed in to the Inorganic Division members well ahead of the oral exam, are critiqued, and returned to the student at the latest a week before the exam

 What is the format for the proposal document (sections, number of pages, etc.)?

  1. Summary of the research proposal
    • In less than one-half page summarize the proposed research with a brief introduction and significance.
  2. Specific Aims
    • List the broad, long-term objectives and what the specific research proposed in this application is intended to accomplish, e.g., to test a stated hypothesis, create a novel design, solve a specific problem, or develop new technology. Not more than one page is recommended.
  3. Background and Significance
    • Briefly sketch the background leading to the present application, critically evaluate existing knowledge, and specifically identify the gaps that the project is intended to fill. State concisely the importance and health relevance of the research described in this application by relating the specific aims to the broad, long-term objectives. Two to three pages are recommended.
  4. Research Design and Methods
    • Describe the research design and the procedures to be used to accomplish the specific aims of the project. Include how the data will be collected, analyzed, and interpreted. Describe any new methodology and its advantage over existing methodologies. Discuss the potential difficulties and limitations of the proposed procedures and alternative approaches to achieve the aims. As part of this section, provide a tentative sequence or timetable for the project. Point out any procedures, situations, or materials that may be hazardous to personnel and the precautions to be exercised. The total for Items a-d may not exceed 10 pages, including all tables and figures. Students are encouraged to be as succinct as possible and reminded that there is no requirement that all 10 pages allotted for the proposal be used. Please also keep in mind that the proposal should be clear and legible, and you may type in single space but the font size should not be smaller than 11 points and a 1.0 inch margin should be maintained in all directions. The use of chemical equations, schematic drawings, original illustrations etc. is strongly encouraged
  5. Literature Cited
    • List all references in a consistent format (we suggest JACS format + title). Each reference must include the title, names of all authors, book or journal, volume number, page numbers, and year of publication. The reference should be limited to relevant and current literature. While there is not a page limitation, it is important to be concise and to select only those literature references pertinent to the proposed research.