Policies Regarding Dissertation (revised August 2012)
Dissertations may be completed in one of two formats – the traditional ‘chapter’ format or the journal-article-manuscripts format; this is at the discretion of the Chair and Advisory Committee in conjunction with the student and in light of the research. For either format, the student’s Chair and Advisory Committee serve as the sole arbiter of the number of chapters or manuscripts. In either format, the dissertation must show the ability of the student to conduct independent and original research; the student should be the first author on all manuscripts created within/from the dissertation. Other contributors (e.g., members of the Advisory Committee) should be listed as co-authors on any manuscripts derived from the dissertation only if the contributions of the these persons were substantial as described within ethical standards; no individual not on the Advisory Committee should be a co-author on the manuscripts derived from the dissertation. For the journal article/manuscript format, the Chair and Advisory Committee determine how the manuscripts will be contextualized, framed or integrated, as well as how related the foci of the manuscripts must be to be considered part of the “dissertation”. For either format, students need to be cognizant of copyright and publishing restrictions. Regardless of format or context, the student should be in frequent contact with their Chair or co-Chairs throughout the process. Additionally, the following requirements are in place for timelines at either the University, College, Department or Program level:
- Students are to present/share their ideas for dissertation in a pre-proposal presentation in the spring prior to applying for internship (Program Policy); the only exception to this is a student who has successfully proposed in that academic year. For this presentation, the intended audience is SPSY Program Faculty and interested students in the program. The presentation should take approximately 10 minutes with the following content:
Students should be prepared to answer questions about your proposed research. It should be noted that the purpose of this presentation is not evaluative, but rather to provide students with a) an opportunity to learn what other students are pursuing as research topics; and b) an opportunity to gain input from a variety of perspectives that can be considered in the preparation of the actual proposal.
- Literature review as basis for research questions
- Provide background of literature and gaps in the literature
- What has been studied before?
- What questions have not been answered or what are the gaps in the literature?
- Proposed research questions
- What are your research questions and how do they address the gaps in the literature that you’ve have indicated or how will the answers to these questions contribute to the literature?
- The dissertation proposal must be presented by the student to his or her advisory committee in an open meeting announced two weeks ahead of time with an invitation to attend for other students and faculty. This presentation and announcement should be approved by the Chair/co-Chairs in advance. See policies/procedures for Preliminary Examinations which are held in conjunction with the Proposal meeting. This meeting must occur and the proposal be designated as “passed” by October 1st of the year the student applies for internship (APA/APPIC/other).
- The student, with supervision by the major advisor, must produce an early “polished” draft of the dissertation and present it to the advisory committee at least four weeks prior to the planned dissertation defense. Assistance from individual committee members for this early draft may be solicited. The committee should return the draft with corrections within two weeks and recommend whether the defense should be held.
- The student works with the Chair to complete a polished draft of the final document(s). The student should tentatively schedule his or her defense with the committee at the time of presenting the early draft, i.e., four weeks ahead of time. The Advisory Committee then provides any feedback requiring changes that need to be made prior to the defense and a decision is made whether to hold the defense or reschedule. If the defense is held, the major advisor must announce it with a letter to the Office of Graduate Studies and copies to the committee members at least two weeks ahead of the date of the defense.
- The student makes any changes based on feedback received in advance of the defense. The student must present a final draft of the dissertation to his or her advisory committee and to the department head at least one week prior to the scheduled dissertation defense.
- Any additional changes in the dissertation that may result from the defense will be made by the student and approved by the major advisor before it is turned in to the thesis clerk at the library.
- The Thesis Office website includes the format that is to be followed in preparing the dissertation. Failure to adhere to this format will result in your thesis NOT being approved – they will provide you with a list of edits to be done, and you will need to make those edits, with care that the formatting is not affected elsewhere in the document. They review the documents in the order received. After the third review, if you continue to have edits, your dissertation will go to the bottom of the pile.
- The date of the defense and the date that the thesis clerk clears the final dissertation will determine when you graduate. The Academic Advisor will alert students to the dates (Last Date to Defend to Graduate in ---), but students should be aware that these dates are EARLY in the semester. Similarly, the dissertation must be submitted to the Thesis Clerk by a specific date (usually about 8 weeks prior to graduation) and the final version must clear the Thesis Office by a predetermined date (usually 3 weeks prior to graduation).
Note: In the process of scheduling proposal meeting and defense, the student needs to notify the Academic Advisor in order for the appropriate paperwork to be generated and a room to be reserved. Departmental policy is that students are not expected to provide refreshments for any of these meetings!