Agree or disagree:
Graduate advisors should show grant proposals to their Ph.D. students so that students can see what is involved in a proposal (particularly a successful one).
I agree with this statement.
Agree or disagree:
When a Ph.D. student's research is funded by a grant, the student should see the grant proposal.
I also agree in general with this statement, but the situation may be complicated. I have known and advised students who, if shown a proposal related to their research, became so influenced by what they read that they lost the ability to think critically and independently about their own research.
This is not a good situation. Although it sometimes seems like one must have a ludicrous amount of preliminary data before getting a proposal funded, a proposal is still a proposal. There should be some element of discovery about the research, and there might be unexpected results. Some research outcomes discussed as likely in the proposal might become more unlikely as the research proceeds.
After a grant is funded, the proposal may be useful to read for its presentation of the context of the research, description of methods, and outline of ideas and hypotheses, but it should not be a rigid template for the research once the project is underway.
I have also seen cases in which students, after seeing the advisor's grant proposal, were unable to write about similar things in their own words when required to do so. I am not talking about plagiarism -- I am talking about being unable to think of any other way to express similar ideas. In fact, some students, after reading the proposal and then having to write about the research in their own words (e.g. in a written document related to an exam) wish they hadn't seen the proposal first.
For these students, the best way to proceed is to discuss the research with them, including ideas outlined in the proposal, but not show them the proposal until they've had some experience writing about the research.
For most students, reading the proposal that funded their research is a positive experience. By reading the proposal, they can understand more completely the motivation of the research, and have the ancillary benefit of seeing how a proposal is constructed. I think that in most cases, students are able to move beyond the confines of the proposal.
Even so, I've encountered enough exceptions that I don't have a one-size-fits-all rule that all students are automatically given the proposal to read. They can see a proposal -- every student should see (and write) a proposal -- but it doesn't have to be the proposal that funded their research.
8 years ago