Prospective Students > Research Director and Subject

Research Director and Subject

The Director’s role

Depending on which program you are enrolled in, you must complete either a synthesis activity (technical report, co-op work-term, project completed within a company setting or application project) or a research project (dissertation or thesis). This work will be supervised by a professor from ÉTS, who becomes your Synthesis Activity Director or Research Director. The Director’s responsibilities are as follows:

  • To guide you through the process of identifying a research subject and establishing the scientific approach (literature review, methodology).
  • To ensure that you understand and respect the ethical rules that apply to the field and the by-laws respecting intellectual property and confidentiality, as applicable.
  • To ensure that you are making adequate progress in your work.
  • To advise you with respect to the selection of courses (Master’s programs with thesis).
  • To authorize the submission of the report, dissertation or thesis for evaluation, and to oversee the compliance of the corrections made to the document following the evaluation (for dissertations and theses).

When to choose a Director

Study program 
When to choose a Director 
 Ph. D. When submitting your application for admission
Master’s with thesis (research focus) When submitting your application for admission
Specialized graduate degree or Master’s with project (classroom focus) – synthesis activity worth 6 credits Before completing your studies, and more specifically, before registering for your final 2 courses.
Specialized graduate degree or Master’s with project (classroom focus) – synthesis activity worth 15 credits After the beginning of the second session, or at the latest before registering for your final 2 courses.

Choosing a Director


Contacting a Potential Director

Once you have identified a professor who you consider to be a potential Director, initiate contact by sending an e-mail message:

  • Demonstrate that you are familiar with the professor’s work and achievements, and explain why you are initiating contact (as you would when seeking employment). If you already have a fairly accurate idea of what you would like your future research subject to be, mention it. If not, mention some areas of research that interest you.

  • Include a brief description of your experience, your previous education, your achievements and your involvement with scientific associations and groups.

  • Clearly specify that you would like to discuss the possibility of the professor acting as your Director, either over the telephone or in person, indicating when you would be available.

It is strongly recommended that you attach a short CV to your e-mail message, along with a transcript of your marks and a relevant document of some substance (e.g.: a study completion report or a thesis) so that the professor can evaluate the quality of a project that you have completed.

Preparing for the first meeting

It is important to be properly prepared for your first meeting with the professor who you are asking to become your future Director. Carefully consider the following points related to the supervision of graduate and doctoral studies in advance, because the first meeting is the ideal occasion for discussing them:

  • The subject of your project or your research
    Be specific about the field that you are interested in. Do you have a particular subject in mind, or would you like the Director to suggest one?

  • The main steps involved in completing your study program
    Do you have any questions concerning your studies, the doctoral exam, the writing of your document (report, dissertation or thesis), the submission of your document (for evaluation) or the thesis examination (for Master’s with thesis or doctorate)?

  • The Director’s method of supervision
    Each individual has a different method of supervision. It is important to discuss this during the first meeting in order to determine whether the method used by the professor is well suited to you.

Examples of questions to ask during the first meeting:

Concerning professor-student relations
  • What level of autonomy does the professor expect from the student?
  • Does the professor prefer a task-based relationship, or a relationship that takes into account other aspects that may be more of a personal nature?
  • Does the professor expect to meet with the student on a regular basis? How frequently?
  • Does the professor expect some type of production in terms of monitoring and evaluating the student’s progress (regular reports, summaries, etc.)?
  • Does the professor expect the students to be on-site at the university on a daily basis?
  • What level of involvement does the professor expect to exercise in terms of planning the main steps of the project and establishing a work schedule?

Concerning financing for your study project
Adequate funding throughout your studies is a key factor for success, especially if you plan to study full time. Therefore, it would be worthwhile to obtain answers to the following questions:
  • Does the professor have available research funds from which to award you a scholarship?
  • Is the professor in a position to hire you as a Research Assistant?
  • Does the professor have opportunities for joint projects with partners (laboratories, universities, industry)?
  • Is the professor in a position to offer you an income from laboratory fees, corrections or lectureships?
  • Is the professor in a position to advise you with respect to the various scholarship programs that are available?

Concerning available work spaces, equipment and material
  • Is there a work space (office) available to you?
  • Will you have access to the equipment you require for your project?
  • Will you have access to the material (supplies, products) and human resources (technicians) you require?
  • Does the professor have a budget for assuming certain research fees (supplies, travel costs, etc.)?

Concerning the laboratory facilities and team, and connections to industry
  • Is the professor a member of a research team or laboratory?
  • To what extent will you have access to the laboratory facilities?
  • What will your role and status be with respect to the team or the laboratory?
  • Does the professor have ongoing projects with industry partners?
  • To what extent will you be involved in these projects?

Section 2.3 of the guide entitled Your Future: A Guide for Potential Graduate Students (pdf), prepared by the Canadian Association for Graduate Studies, is another reference for preparing for your first meeting with your future Director.

Choosing a subject

There are many ways to choose a subject for your synthesis activity or your research project:

  • Students who are pursuing a Master’s degree with project or a specialized graduate degree and who expect to study part-time while continuing to work may choose a subject related to their work environment

  • Students can discuss their areas of interest with the professor during the first meeting, and the professor can suggest a particular field or even a specific project (see the section entitled Contacting a potential Director)

  • Students who are pursuing a Professional Master’s degree can complete a co-op work-term as an extracurricular activity, during which they can determine the subject of their project to be completed in a company setting (15 credits).

Questions to ask yourself:
  • Would you prefer to have your Director suggest a research subject, or would you prefer to choose your own subject?
  • Are you interested in a specific research problem? If so:
    • does the research project originate from a company, and
    • is the company your employer?
    • are there certain hypotheses or research paths that you would like to explore in greater depth?
  • If you don’t have a specific project in mind, what will be the determining factor in your selection of a subject?
    • The project is part of your Director’s research program.
    • The research project can be conducted as part of a team or in a laboratory.
    • The project receives financing so that you can receive a scholarship from the professor.
    • The project will have an impact on industry or can be conducted in an industrial setting.