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The Great Big Graduate Review

Note: This Survey is Now Closed.


What is the Great Big Graduate Review?

The Great Big Graduate Review is a comprehensive, qualitative survey of the graduate and professional student experience at UC Davis, administered by a current UC Davis graduate student with support from the Office of Graduate Studies.

What is the purpose of this study?

The goal is to create a detailed report that UC Davis administrators, staff, faculty, students, and other campus units can consult in order to improve the services and support offered to graduate and professional students during their studies.

What are the potential impacts of this study?

This project will facilitate a higher level of direct interaction and accessibility between students and campus leaders and provide an extensive collection of in-depth and personalized accounts of the efficacy of programming and support currently provided to students. It will also provide students with the opportunity to learn more about campus resources currently available, including a review of support and advocacy resources provided by the GSADC.


Current Available Prizes:

  • TAPS EasyPark Meter with $50.00 credit
  • $100, $50, and $25 gift cards to the Bookstore and CoHo
  • ARC Group Exercise Passes
  • $25 Credit to Outdoor Adventures, the Craft Center, and the Experimental College
  • Ticket vouchers to a Mondavi Center concert in the 2017-2018 season
  • $25 Davis Food Co-Op gift cards
  • Copies of How to Write A Lot
  • Copies of So what are you Going to Do With That
  • Copies of Next Gen PhD
  • Copies of A PhD is Not Enough
  • Copies of The Professor is In

Other gifts and prizes to be determined!


  • Who should participate?
  • All currently-enrolled graduate and professional students pursuing a degree at UC Davis are encouraged to participate.
  • When does the project end?
  • The data collection period will be open until June 1st of this year (2017). Following that, analysis of the data and the compilation of a final report will take place during summer of 2017. The targeted release date for the report is September 1st, 2017.
  • How can I participate?
  • There are two ways to contribute your story to this project:                                                                                                                                      

    ​Townhall meetings: In-person townhall meetings, organized by program, will be scheduled throughout the year in consultation with students from those programs. A group of twenty programs have been randomly selected as the core group for which meetings will take place; meetings with additional programs will occur as time and resources allow. During these meetings, the GSADC will facilitate an open-ended group discussion on broad questions related to graduate and professional student experience. This discussion will be recorded (with permission) and transcribed, and all attendees will have the option of filling out an individual survey at the meeting.

    Online survey: For individuals unable or unwilling to attend a townhall meeting, an online version of the survey is available. This survey uses the same questions as those used during the townhall meeting, and may be completed any time between now and the closure of the data collection period on June 1st.
  • Is my program on the list for the first round of townhall meetings?
  • The first group of programs that will be contacted about townhall meetings are: 

    Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
    Art (Studio)
    Master of Business Administration
    Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.)
    Master of Public Health
    Civil and Environmental Engineering
    Cultural Studies
    Animal Behavior
    Horticulture and Agronomy
    Transportation Technology and Policy

  • My program is not on the first-round list for townhall meetings, but my peers and I are interested in scheduling a meeting. Who should we contact?
  • Contact the project leader, Sarah Messbauer, at In your email, please include the name of your program, a rough estimate of possible attendees, and a general time period (certain days/times during a week, certain weeks/months in the quarter) that would likely work with your schedule. Note that your program may be grouped with one or more additional programs for a joint townhall meeting unless an individual meeting is specifically requested.
  • I am part of an interdisciplinary group (diverse student group, Sacramento campus students, remote lab students, etc.) with unique perspectives on graduate and professional education that would not be well-captured by our program meetings. Is it possible for my group to schedule a townhall separate from those organized by degree program?
  • Yes, absolutely! Please contact the project leader, Sarah Messbauer, at to set up a meeting. In your email, please include the group interested in meeting, a rough estimate of likely attendees, and a general timeframe (times of day, days of week, weeks of quarter, etc.) that would likely work with your schedules. Note that your program may be grouped with one or more additional programs for a joint townhall meeting unless an individual meeting is specifically requested.
  • Are there incentives for participating?
  • Light snacks will be provided at all townhall meetings. Anyone who completes a survey or attends a townhall will have the option of entering a raffle for giftcards to the bookstore, the MU, and various restaurants and shops in downtown Davis. Raffle drawings will take place in June after the conclusion of the comment-gathering period. Only one entry is permitted per registered student.

    Note: To enter the raffle, survey participants must provide a UC Davis email address and student ID number. This information is used only for the purpose of selecting prize winners, and will not be connected to the survey responses in any way.
  • I have already attended a townhall meeting and/or taken the survey, but I have additional comments. Can I attend another meeting or take another survey?
  • Yes! The only requirement for contributing again, either through the online survey or townhall survey, is to indicate that you have already participated in some form. This will not nullify your comments, but is rather used to correctly track participation numbers (a critical component of the project). There are spaces to indicate prior participation on both forms: at the beginning of the online version, and at the top of the townhall version.


Project Team

  • Who is running this project?
  • The principle investigator for this study is Sarah Messbauer, a PhD student in the ethnomusicology program at UC Davis. Trained in both social science and humanities research design, Sarah has extensive experience in qualitative research practice stemming from her own fieldwork in Haiti, the United States, and Canada. To read more about Sarah’s research credentials, click here.

    Sarah is currently serving as UC Davis’s Graduate Student Assistant to the Dean and Chancellor (GSADC), and is supported in her work on this project by the Office of Graduate Studies.
  • I’ve never heard of the GSADC. Who is this person and what do they do?
  • The GSADC is a graduate student who acts as the main representative of, and advocate for, graduate and professional students at UC Davis. This is a full-time, funded position managed by the Office of Graduate Studies, and operates in a very similar capacity as the GSR positions in the Student Community Center offices (i.e., SRRC, CCC, WRRC, etc.). The responsibilities of the GSADC include, but are not limited to:
    • Actively voicing graduate student perspectives in one-on-one meetings with the Chancellor and Dean of Graduate studies, and providing student-centered feedback during campus leadership meetings such as Campus Community Council, Graduate Council, Campus Council on Community and Diversity, and Graduate Studies monthly meetings

    • Meeting one-on-one with graduate and professional students in a confidential setting to discuss any questions or concerns related to their experiences at UC Davis, or to connect them with campus resources

    • Chairing the Chancellor’s Graduate and Professional Student Advisory Board

    • Serving as ex-officio officer for the Graduate Student Association

    • Managing logistics and providing strategic planning guidance for campus groups such as the Graduate Ally Coalition

    • Co-organizing the campus-wide Graduate Student Orientation, and contributing actively to the planning of the International Graduate Student Orientation, the Graduate Diversity Orientation Program, and the Teaching Assistant Orientation program

    • Sitting on several other ad-hoc committees and current-year initiatives, such as the Orchard Park PAC, GradSlam! Competition Committee, and others

    • Designing, planning, and implementing a campus program or initiative of their choice
    • The Great Big Graduate Review is an initiative designed and run by this year’s GSADC, Sarah Messbauer, as a one-time special project for the campus community.

      For more information on the GSADC role, please click here.
  • Who else has contributed to this project?
  • In addition to the work of the GSADC, several students, faculty, and staff have contributed to the design and implementation of this project. In accordance with IRB protocol, however, on the research team itself will have access to the raw data resulting from this study. This team is comprised of Sarah Messbauer (PI), Teresa Dillinger (Faculty Advisor), and two undergraduate research assistants.
  • I have a comment/suggestion/critique related to this study design. Who should I talk to?
  • Please contact the GSADC, Sarah Messbauer, at to submit any comments, suggestions, or critiques related to this study.
  • I believe I can help analyze the data gathered. Can I receive compensation for doing so?
  • Unfortunately, there are no opportunities for financial compensation associated with individuals serving as project assistants or consultants.


Study Design

  • Why doesn’t this study have IRB approval?
  • This project does not meet the definition of “research” as provided by the IRB. Specifically, this project does not meet the criteria for “generalizable” research:

    ​“Knowledge is “generalizable” when the conclusions drawn from the data analysis will be applied to populations outside of the specific study population. In other words, if the results of the systematic investigation are expected to be generalized to a larger population beyond the site of data collection and replicated in other settings, then the knowledge is generalizable.”

    The Great Big Graduate Review is an internal improvement project; the information is being collected from UC Davis graduate and professional students, and the results will be applied to UC Davis graduate and professional students only. There are no plans to apply the results of this study to groups outside of this original study population. 

    **While this project does not require IRB approval, all efforts have been made to follow proper IRB protocols for the collection, storage, and use of information related to this study.
  • How will my identity be protected?
  • The online survey associated with this project collects all information anonymously—this means that you will never be asked to provide your name or student ID number while answering the questions. The only identifying information you will be asked for is your program of study and degree type. There are demographic questions posed at the end of the survey, but these are entirely optional.

    The townhall meetings associated with this project are conducted in groups by program; no sign-in sheet or other attendance form will be used. Participants who choose to fill out a paper version of the survey during their townhall meeting will do so anonymously (there is no place for name or ID number on the form). Townhall meetings will be recorded to facilitate transcription and analysis, but these recordings will be destroyed once discussions have been transcribed. Speakers will be assigned numerical IDs on the transcript, and any use of personal names will be removed.

    Note: To enter the raffle, survey participants must provide a UC Davis email address and student ID number. This information is used only for the purpose of selecting prize winners, and will not be connected to the survey responses in any way.
  • How will the information be used?
  • The anonymous responses collected for this project will undergo qualitative analysis to identify major areas of concern for graduate and professional students at Davis. A final report will be generated based on this analysis, and that report will be released to the campus community.

    In addition to analyzing the information collected, the report will also include a collection of stories, anecdotes, and experiences shared by participants. These stories will be organized by theme, and will provide a humanizing complement to the data analysis portion of the report.
  • I asked for a personal response to a problem/comment/question/suggestion I described in the survey. Why hasn’t anyone gotten back to me about it?
  • The survey, whether taken online or at a townhall meeting, is completely anonymous. This makes it impossible for personal questions or requests for information written in the survey to receive a direct response.

    If you have a question, a comment, a problem, or a concern that you would like a personal and timely response to, please email the GSADC, Sarah Messbauer, directly at Sarah is happy to answer your questions by email or set up an in-person appointment at the time and location of your choice.
  • I have more questions/comments/critiques/suggestions. Who should I talk to?
  • Any and all queries should be directed to Sarah Messbauer, GSADC and project PI. Email her at