National Heart & Lung Institute (NHLI)

Research Proposal

The Research Proposal, which must be written by the candidate with the supervisors’ assistance, should be 2-4 pages (single-spaced) including figures (optional) with usually no more than 10 references and should be submitted electronically.

The purpose of this proposal is to allow assessment of the intrinsic scientific merit of the project and of the student’s understanding of the project. It must, therefore, contain sufficient detail to allow a decision to be reached.

The Research Proposal should be formulated on the basis of a two year MD(Res)/ three year PhD.  It should not just describe the work that would lead up to the assessment at 9 months.

The format should include:

a)  Title of project
b)  Background to project
c)  Hypothesis
d)  Aims
e)  Plan of investigation (to include details of the methods to be used; whether they are currently in use within the group or how they are to be established)

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Early Stage Review

The purpose of the Early Stage Review (ESR) is to confirm that the student has an understanding of their field of research and the direction of their project, and has the potential to pursue research. Data presented at this stage may be minimal but should be indicative of the student’s ability to perform.

The Early Stage Review  process includes the submission of a written report no later than 9 months from date of registration, the subsequent oral assessment, the English Test if required, re-submission of report or re-viva (if needed) and attendance at the Graduate School courses, all of which must be completed within 12 months from registration.

Written report
The written report is expected to be 5,000-7,000 words (excluding references and figures, but including an abstract of about 400-words). Word count needs to be put on the first (i.e. Title) page. The report should be written by the student and should contain:

a)  Title page with word count, name and CID
b)  Abstract
c)  Background of the subject
d)  Hypothesis
e)  Methods
f)   Results obtained to date
g)  Discussion, including a statement on the originality of the project
h)  Outline of future work

It is appreciated that at 9 months there may be little concrete data, but this must not delay the required submission of the report as a clear protocol and techniques to be used should be well established and the student must be proficient in the background and aims of the project and the associated literature. If there are any published or submitted papers or abstracts these should be included (these are not a pre-requisite for the report).

Oral assessment
The oral examination should take the form of a brief presentation by the student to the assessors (of 10-20 minutes, with the option of visual aids) followed by an assessment to review:
a)  Oral presentation skills
b)  Capacity for critical but constructive thinking
c)  Thorough understanding of the relevant academic discipline
d)  Competence in the relevant techniques
e)  Awareness of the associated literature
f)   Understanding of the hypothesis
g)  Research ability
h)  Published papers and abstracts
i)   Originality of the research
j)   PhD/MD(Res) potential
k)  Anticipated submission date

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Late Stage Review

The purpose of the Late Stage Review (LSR) is to confirm that the student has an adequate understanding of the research problem, has the capacity to pursue research, has a critical awareness of the relevant literature on the subject and has a realistic research plan and schedule for completion within the registration period.

By 21 months each research student (MD(Res) and PhD) is required to give a verbal report, the Late Stage Review, to their assessors (the same assessors as for their Research Proposal and Early Stage Review) to ensure that good progress is being made with their research.  The presentation (about 30 minutes) should start by describing the progress which has been made as well as conclude with a plan of future work and plan to submission.

Students and supervisors are responsible for organising the Late Stage Review.  Presentation should be to open group (Section, group meeting) with at least one of the assessors, followed by questions and a private meeting if requested by student or assessor(s).

A copy of the slides and a 4-page summary should be available to the assessors prior to the presentation and submitted to NHLI’s Postgraduate Research Degrees Office a week prior to the presentation.

If a student underperforms at this stage they may be reassessed within 3 months, and no longer than 24 months from initial registration.

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Six Monthly Report

Imperial College Regulations require Six Monthly Progress reports from postgraduate research students. These forms are in two parts and both parts can be submitted independently.  Please use the appropriate form for you and when you enrolled at Imperial.

If you registered before 1 October 2010:

6 Monthly Progress Report pre-Oct 2010Word Document

If you registered after 1 October 2010:

6 Monthly Progress Report pre-Oct 2010 Word Document

Using the six-monthly progress report form, please give bullet points of your progress and your stated aims. Please also state whether you are satisfied with your progress, and/or state any areas of difficulty.

All forms must be completed and returned in a timely fashion to the Postgraduate Administrator.

Students return their completed forms in confidence whilst supervisor must discuss their comments with the student prior to returning the report.  If the supervisor and student cannot agree on Section A, the supervisor can submit the form without the signature of the student.

Students are responsible for submitting their section of the 6-monthly form.  If for any reason, a meeting to discuss the first section is not possible, the student must ensure that they submit their part regardless of the first section not being completed.

All returns will be reviewed by the Director of Postgraduate Studies and placed on record. If any significant issues have been highlighted, the matter will be followed-up by the Postgraduate Administrator/Director of Postgraduate Studies and the Postgraduate Tutors. It is in the best interest of both students and supervisors to ensure that these assessments are completed.

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New procedures on plagiarism and examination offences have been introduced from October 2009

Students are reminded that all work submitted as part of the requirements for any examination (including coursework) of Imperial College London and the University of London must be expressed in your own words and incorporate your own ideas and judgements.


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NHLI Research Students' Handbook

This handbook provides all the information you would need to know during your research degree. It is continually updated and the latest version can be downloaded here:

NHLI Research Students' Handbook


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