Thursday, August 17, 2017

Need a 7th Semester Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA) Extension?


You must apply for it.  It is not automatically given!
The MS committee examines student requests on a case-by-case basis, and will make a recommendation to the Associate Dean of the MTSU Graduate Studies Office, Dr. Kimberly Douglass, who then makes the final decision on granting the extension.  ALL graduate teaching assistant requests will require the following to be provided to the MS Coordinator, Dr. Charles Chusuei (preferably in pdf format):
1) A letter of support from the major research professor detailing reasons why a 7th semester GTA is needed for completion of the thesis work.
2) A rough draft (OK if it is incomplete--it can be a bare bones version) of the student’s MS thesis, that may include introduction and background of the project and available data pertinent to the thesis and preliminary data up to that point.
3) A copy of all teaching evaluations of classes taught up to that point.  This evaluation may be accessed through your MTSU Pipeline account.

The DEADLINE for which these materials are due is by the last class day of the 5th semester so the committee can meet and make an evaluation. 

Note: Graduate students supported entirely by research assistantships and/or other means (i.e., funding independent of the Graduate Studies) are not asked for these materials in order to continue work beyond the 6th semester. 
(In these cases, GTA support is in no way involved.)

The purpose of requesting the teaching evaluation is to ensure that the student can continue to effectively function as a GTA.  The purpose of endorsement by the major professor is to ensure that (s)he is in agreement with the student’s extension request as well as provide background to the specifics of the student’s case.  The purpose of requesting the rough draft is two-fold: 
i) To show satisfactory progress towards completing the MS degree, given the circumstances explained by the major professor.
ii) To assist the major professor in the event that either the MS committee does not recommend extension or the MS committee’s positive recommendation is negated by Graduate Studies.  A working MS thesis draft would enable as soon as possible completion of the degree.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Three Pitfalls to Avoid in Publishing Your Thesis Research (including notes on ProQuest)

A good way to establish your scientific authority is to publish your research in respected, peer-reviewed journals.  This will open career doors as a practicing scientist.  At this current stage of your career, you will lean on the advice and mentoring of your major research professor.  As you become more adept at thinking, carrying out experiments, and writing, you will need less and less oversight, and eventually be able to publish independently.

A general rule of thumb is: if it is not original, it is not publishable.  For example, a policy from the American Chemical Society, the largest publisher in the field of Chemistry/Biochemistry states:

"The [ACS journal title] considers for publication only original work that has not been previously published and is not under consideration for publication elsewhere. When submitting a manuscript, an author should inform the editor of any prior dissemination of the content in print or electronic format. This includes electronic posting of conference presentations, posters, and preprints on institutional repositories and other Web sites. Any content that has been made publicly available, either in print or electronic format, and that contains a significant amount of new information, if made part of a submitted manuscript, may jeopardize the originality of the submission and may preclude consideration for publication."

In other words, premature release of your research data may jeopardize its suitability for publication in respected, peer-reviewed journals. There is a difference between having your results published in an ACS journal versus having them reported in a supermarket tabloid.  To safeguard the quality of the peer-review process, the following precautions should be taken.

1) Do not post good data on social media. New researchers are often excited when they get intriguing results and hence want to disseminate it.  However, posting data on social media in itself may be considered "already published".


2) When presenting work at a scientific conference, do not make copies of original, unpublished research materials and handing them out to your audience.  This especially true, when the experiments are easy to duplicate.  Unless you are presenting at a Gordon Research Conference (in which there is a signed agreement under penalty of prosecution), there is nothing to stop another researcher from running back to his/her lab, reproducing your results and sending it off to a journal before you have a chance to complete your work. A few years ago, I had a master's student who did this very thing as potential employers (as well as peers) visited him at an informal poster session.  It is ok to distribute research articles that you have already published for job search/networking purposes.  


3)  Don't forget to request an embargo to protect your intellectual property.  MTSU requires that all Master of Science theses to be archived on ProQuest to complete the degree. An important reminder when archiving thesis on ProQuest.  If instructions are not exactly followed, you may find that your independent research that you have worked very hard for to be disseminated free of charge on the world wide web. This could potentially preclude any of your efforts to publish in standard peer-reviewed articles and submission of patents.  


It would be wise to search the web yourself to ensure that your work is not prematurely "published" on the web.  One incident during the 2014-2015 academic year during the week before Spring Break, that every single MS thesis from Chemistry MTSU students who graduated that year was disseminated on the web. Fortunately, this technical glitch was caught and corrected before too much damage was done.  To prevent a thesis to be immediately disseminated on the web (which would preclude publication, patent applications, etc.), the student must request an embargo.  It is not automatically given.


Link to ProQuest: www.etdadmin.com.


The standard options allow graduate students to select up to 2 years wide dissemination of their thesis/dissertation (see image below).  


There is an option to do an indefinite embargo by leaving the end date space blank.  However, this option is hidden from view to the student. The student must ask the ProQuest technical support to unhide this feature to take advantage of it (see hotlink above).

Only students are able to change their embargo options.  To do so, they must contact the ProQuest Publishing Group. Their phone number is 1-800-521-0600  ext. 77020, and they are open from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Eastern. Their email address is disspub (at) proquest (dot) com

If a student is concerned about their document's inclusion in the JEWL Scholar database as well (s)he can change their options in ProQuest, which will carry over to JEWL Scholar.  And then, the student can contact the library's Dean, Dr. Bonnie.Allen (at) mtsu (dot) edu to request the removal of their document.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Accelerate Your Education: MTSU's ABM Chemistry Program

Abstract, Abstraction, Acceleration
Are you a research-active MTSU student majoring in Chemistry or Biochemistry ready to accelerate your education?  Get on the degree fast track with the Chemistry Accelerated Bachelor's Master’s (ABM) program where you can earn BOTH a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Chemistry degrees within five years of full-time study.

Frequently Asked Questions
(1). How does it work? The goal of the ABM program is to provide our most
meritorious Chemistry/Biochemistry majors the means to complete both the BS and MS degrees in Chemistry/Biochemistry within a 5-year period, culminating with a written research thesis to showcase independent, original research that will be defended in a public setting.  Some courses that you will take will be double-counted as undergraduate and graduate courses.  See the Academic Map below.
(2). What tracks are offered within the ABM program? Three tracks for the ABM degree program are as follows:
i) Materials Track:  This curriculum involves the discovery and design of new materials with an emphasis on solids. With these degrees, students are more likely to be hired as practicing chemists or gain admission to professional 
programs or graduate schools.
ii) Biomolecular Track:  This field involves the study of chemical principles of 
molecules biological in origin.  Research focuses on molecular level solutions to issues and problems in the life sciences related to the environment, agriculture, energy, industry, food production, biotechnology and medicine.
iii) Biochemistry Track: Biochemistry degrees can not only prepare students  for professional careers as chemists, it may also serve as the basis for work in areas outside pure chemistry, such as materials science, medicine and other health-related fields, nutrition, pharmacology, patent law, business, and environmental science.

(3). Do I have the approprite background? If you are majoring in Chemistry or Biochemistry and have and overall GPA of 3.25 or higher, have at least 2 semesters remaining at MTSU to complete your degree, completed at least 75 credit hours, you meet the minimum requirements to apply.  The MS committee will consider your application for the MS program.

(4). Do I need to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE)?
No.  The GREs are waived for ABM applicants.


(5). What things should I keep in mind to optimize my chances for success? To ensure that you finish BOTH the BS and MS degrees in Chemistry, you should already have in mind a MS faculty mentor with whom you can do your research.  You will want to have on-going undergraduate research in progress that could be transitioned into a master's thesis. Remember that earning an MS degree means that you are doing original, independent research and not merely reproducing already established experiments.  Consult the MS Chemistry Handbook.  Also, see the blog on what you should know and do after being accepted into the MS program.

(6). How do I apply? Fill out the application form and give it to MS Coordinator, Dr. Chusuei, who will forward to the MS committee for consideration. (You may leave the hard copy of the application with Dr. Chusuei in SCI 3065. There is an envelope on the door in case he's not in; alternatively, you may leave your application in Dr. Chusuei's mailbox in SCI 3044B.) Note, that if you are interested in a Graduate Teaching Assistantship for financial support in your 5th year, you must apply separately by filling out the form from the graduate school web site; be sure you email the form to graduate (at) mtsu (dot) edu.  

Academic Map for 3 Tracks in the ABM program
I.                    Professional Materials Track
Undergraduate
CORE or ELECTIVE?
Graduate
CHEM 4400 or 4410 Found of Inorg
CORE
CHEM 6400  Int Inorg Chem
CHEM 4100 Org Spec
ELECTIVE
CHEM 5100 Org Spec
CHEM 4600 Intro to Env Chem
ELECTIVE
CHEM 5600 Intro to Environ Chem
CHEM 4700, Polymers, An Intro
ELECTIVE
CHEM 5700 Polymers
CHEM 4230 Instrum Anal
ELECTIVE
CHEM 6230/6231 Int Anal Chem
CHEM 4610 Enviro Chem
ELECTIVE
CHEM 6610 Enviro Chem
CHEM 4780 Polymer and Mater Chem Lab
ELECTIVE
CHEM 6780 Polymers Lab

II.                  Biomolecular Track
Undergraduate
CORE or ELECTIVE?
Graduate
CHEM 4500 Biochem I
CORE
CHEM 6500 Biochem I
CHEM 4510 Biochem II
CORE
CHEM 6510 Biochem II
CHEM 4530 Biochem Tech
CORE
CHEM 6530 Biochem Tech
CHEM 4400  or 4410 Found or Inorg
CORE
CHEM 6400 Int Inorg Chem
CHEM 4520 Topics in Biochem
ELECTIVE
CHEM 6520 Topics in Biochem

III.                Biochemistry Track
Undergraduate
CORE or ELECTIVE?
Graduate
CHEM 4500 Biochem I
CORE
CHEM 6500 Biochem I
CHEM 4510 Biochem II
CORE
CHEM 6510 Biochem II
CHEM 4550/4551 Bioanal Chem
CORE
CHEM 6230/6231 Int Anal Chem
CHEM 4400 or 4410 Found of Inorg
CORE
CHEM 6400 Int Inorg Chem
CHEM 4520 Topics in Biochem
ELECTIVE
CHEM 6520 Topics in Biochem