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I'm supposed to write a thesis for my 成人教育 course. A teacher has been appointed. I can only contact him by email and I think he only looks at his email once a month, there is a long latency period. I sent in a proposal.

His reply was: 结构合理同意开题

Does this mean I can start on the thesis, or he wants a more detailed report of the thesis??

开题到底是什么意思?

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    At Nankai 开题 referred to a presentation+report given by graduate students when they start their research. It's a formal process, and the students outline what they plan to do during their PhD or Master's candidature. – Becky 李蓓 Jan 9 at 4:31
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    @Becky李蓓 This should be an answer. It is a general term used post-graduate education. – fefe Jan 9 at 7:07
  • @Becky李蓓, from what OP describes, I don't think the professor is expecting anymore presentation or report before OP starts on the project. OP should now send in periodic progress report for sure. – jf328 Jan 10 at 1:44
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结构 : structure

合理 : makes sense

同意 : agree

开题 : start topic (thesis in your case)

结构合理同意开题 means

Your structure makes sense and I agree that you can start on the thesis.

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I'll answer this based on my experience at Nankai University; I worked there for ~5 years, and experienced 开题 only from Chinese students. I expect it's different for international students.

开题 refers to a period wherein research students (PhD or Master's students) do two things:

  1. They give a presentation about their intended research.
  2. I understand the students also need to write a report.

If I recall correctly, this occurs after their coursework: typically they spend a year doing coursework, then the rest of their candidature doing research (getting papers published, and writing a thesis).

It's a formal process, and the students need to pass this to continue. It's taken very seriously, and it's a busy and stressful time for both teachers and students. (From my experience, however, if a student has a half-decent proposal and a competent teacher, it'll probably be fine. It doesn't have to be perfect; they're students describing future research, after all.)

I expect the process differs from university to university (possibly even department to department, and even teacher to teacher), and it looks like it's different again for international students.

In the OP's case in particular, the situation appears different: 同意开题 implies they agree (同意) with your research proposal (开题). Moreover, if you're communicating by email, I guess there's probably no presentation to give.


I expect the Chinese comes from a combination of or 开始 = "start" with 课题 = "problem" (or maybe 题目 = "topic" or 问题 = "problem"). I believe it's short for 开题报告 = "thesis proposal".

开题者对科研课题的一种文字说明
A description of the scientific topic by the author
Baidu Baike

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    As a PhD from Tsinghua, I think this process is the same among departments, and universities. And all foreign students in my lab also went through the same process. Details might defer, though. Our department used to hold committee to hear all proposal representations, and the committee decides who would pass, and who would not. If one fails, he would have to wait at least half a year to try again. – fefe Jan 10 at 3:35
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开题 means proposal according to 有道词典 and it makes sense to me.

同意开题 means that the professor "agrees with your proposal," which I assume is his go-ahead for you to turn the proposal into a fully-fledged thesis. You can think of it literally as "I agree with your proposal."

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结构合理同意开题 = 结构合理,同意开题

开题:开始你的研究project

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As a PhD student, I am very familiar with these routines. 开题 is "prelim". A process of submitting research proposal. However it is a verb, mostly means passing the prelim.

Usage: 开题了:passed the prelim

"结构合理 同意开题":Reasonable structure (of research proposal). Admit (someone) passing the prelim.

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