Student Information > Graduate studies > Research Director and subject

Research Director and subject

What is the Director’s role?

All students must complete either a synthesis activity or a research project during their studies (except in the case of short programs). The synthesis activity can be carried out in the form of a technical report, a co-op work-term, a project completed within a company setting, or an application project. The research project involves the writing of a dissertation or a thesis.

The synthesis activity or research project must be supervised by a professor from ÉTS, who then becomes the student’s Synthesis Activity Director or Research Director. The Director’s responsibilities are as follows:

  • Guide the student through the process of identifying a research subject and establishing the scientific approach (literature review, methodology).
  • Ensure that the student understands and respects the ethical rules applicable to the field and the by-laws respecting intellectual property and confidentiality, as applicable.
  • Ensure that the student is making adequate progress in the work.
  • Advise the student with respect to the selection of courses (Master’s programs with thesis).
  • Authorize the submission of the report, dissertation or thesis for evaluation and oversee the compliance of the corrections made to the document following the evaluation (for dissertations and theses).

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

Choosing a Director

1.  Contact professors who you met during your bachelor’s studies (if completed at ÉTS) and who are associated with the field of graduate or doctoral studies that you wish to follow.
2.  Consult the list of research projects for which professors are seeking students
3.  Become familiar with the areas of expertise of ÉTS professors:

Contacting a potential Director

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

1.  Demonstrate that you are familiar with the professor’s work and achievements, and explain why you are initiating contact (as you would when contacting a company). If you already have a fairly accurate idea of what you would like your future research subject to be, mention it. If this is not the case, mention some areas of research that interest you. In some cases, the Director may even suggest a research subject.
2.  Include a brief description of your experience, your previous education, your achievements and your involvement with scientific associations and groups.
3.  Clearly specify that you would like to discuss the possibility of the professor acting as your Director, either over the telephone or in person, and clearly indicate the times when you are available for such a discussion.

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 (e.g.: a study completion report or a research report) 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 this first meeting is the ideal occasion for discussing these points:

  • 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.

Here are some examples of questions to ask during the first meeting:
Concerning professor-student relations
  • What degree of autonomy does the professor expect from the student?
  • Does the professor appear to favor a relationship based strictly on the work to be done, or a relationship that also takes into consideration more personal aspects?
  • Does the professor meet with the student on a regular basis? How often?
  • Does the professor require the student to produce certain documents (e.g.: regular reports, summaries) in order to monitor and evaluate the progress of the student’s work?
  • Does the professor expect the student to be on campus at ÉTS on a daily basis?
  • To what extent will the professor be involved in the mains steps of the project and the drafting of a work schedule?
Concerning financing for your study project
Adequate financing throughout the study period is a key factor in the success of your project, especially in the case of full-time studies. Therefore, it is important to obtain the following information:

  • Is there a possibility of receiving a scholarship from the professor’s research funds?
  • Is the professor able to hire you as a Research Assistant?
  • Is the professor able to provide you with partnership opportunities (laboratories, universities, industry)?
  • Is the professor able to offer you income from laboratory fees, corrections or course fees?
  • Can the professor advise you with respect to the various scholarship programs that are available?
Concerning available work spaces, equipment and material
  • Will you have a work space (office) available to you?
  • Will you have access to the equipment and facilities required for your project?
  • Will you have access to the material resources (supplies, products) and human resources (technicians) required for your project?
  • Does the professor have a budget available to assume some of the costs of the research (supplies, travel, etc.)?
Concerning the laboratory facilities / team and ties to industry
  • Is the professor a member of a team or a research laboratory?
  • To what extent will you have access to laboratory facilities?
  • What will your role and your status be with respect to the laboratory team?
  • Is the professor currently involved in projects with industry partners?
  • To what extent could you become involved in these projects?

Choosing a subject

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

  • 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 master’s degree with project 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).

  • Students can consult the list of research projects (in French and/or English) for which professors are seeking students, the websites of the research chairs and research units at ÉTS and the research fields (business sectors) in order to learn about work that is available in fields that they are interested in.