Writing Requirement

Our program provides you an opportunity to hone your writing skills through two structured writing experiences prior to writing your dissertation. These experiences focus on developing skills in the effective communication of research plans (research proposals) and research results (papers), through close work with your advisor or other faculty member. The first such experience should be completed within the first two years, the second involves the production of a dissertation proposal.

Writing Experience 1

(within the first two years of study)

Normally, students undertake an independent study course with their advisor in their first semester at Duke. This course involves directed and intensive reading in the area of the student’s research interests, and is designed to begin to focus the student’s research plans towards their dissertation topic. The independent study culminates with a written document – either an NSF graduate research proposal (for eligible students) or a review paper.

Alternatively, students may wish to conduct research with their advisor or other faculty member and write up the results for submission to a peer‐reviewed journal.

Writing Experience 2

(by end of fifth semester)

Prior to the preliminary exam, students must write a dissertation proposal. Students typically work closely with their advisor and committee members to develop a well-written, clear and compelling proposal. With the consent of the committee, students may submit their proposal in the form of an NSF doctoral dissertation improvement grant proposal; regardless, dissertation proposals generally serve as the basis for applications for extramural funding.