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Dissertation Manual

PhD students can reference the content and drop-downs below for understanding their dissertation requirement and the thesis defense process. A downloadable PDF version of this guidance is available here.

Updated interim guidance regarding the conduct of the final oral examination of the dissertation

The final oral examination for the Doctor of Philosophy de­gree can continue to be held virtually.

Noting that there are still significant public health concerns around the spread and incidence of COVID-19, virtual open portions of the defense are still preferred.

However, given that the final oral examination is an academic exercise, if desired, the final oral examination may be conducted in person under current instructional guidelines and in adherence to COVID protocols associated with the location of the room. It is desirable that both an in person and zoom option be made available for the oral examination to allow for audience of the open portion and committee members to participate virtually if so desired.

Copyright

Including previously published materials in your thesis.

Are you planning to include previously published materials in your thesis? If you do, you need to check the copyright status of those materials and, if necessary, request permission form the copyright owner to re-use them, even if you are the author.

Copyright is a legal protection provided to creators of original works of authorship registered in a tangible medium. It gives copyright owners the exclusive right to copy, distribute, perform, adapt or display their works. Many academic authors transfer their copyright to publishers when they publish a book or an article, which means they might need the publishers’ permission to re-use those materials.

Before requesting permission, check your copyright transfer contract with the publisher to see if they already gave you some rights back, such as the right to re-use the materials in your own publications. If not, check the publisher’s website to find information about “Rights and Permissions”. Most academic publishers have agreements with the Copyright Clearance Center to process those type of requests; it is common to see a link saying “Get permissions” somewhere on the book/article/journal or publisher website. Re-use of materials that you authored on your own thesis is usually free of charge.

If there is no easy link to request permissions on the publisher’s website, you may have to contact them directly. Here is an example of the type of information you should include in your permissions request. Remember to keep all the documentation for your records since you might have to share those permissions when submitting your thesis to UR Research and ProQuest.

Still unsure or need more information? Check the following presentation slides or set up an appointment with the Scholarly Communications Librarian, Moriana Garcia mgarcia@library.rochester.edu

Formatting requirements

The dissertation must be written in English, except where the subject matter demands otherwise, and an exception has been approved by the school’s dean for graduate studies.

  • The narrative of the thesis should be formatted for 8.5 x 11-inch paper in portrait format (text running across the shorter dimension of the page).
  • All margins must be at least 1.25” (one and one-quarter inches), including those on tables, figures, and appendices. Tables or figures may be printed in landscape layout (content running across the longer dimension of the page) if necessary. See page number section for numbering on those pages.
  • Font size must be at least as large as 10-point Arial or 12-point Times New Roman.
  • Fonts in figures and tables may be smaller than 11-point, but all must remain legible when reduced to 50% size.
  • The front matter (abstract, biographical sketch, dedication, contributors and funding sources, table of contents, etc.) and body of the text must be double-spaced.
  • After the title page, each page in the thesis, including pages with tables, figures, references and appendices, must include a page number.
  • Page numbers must be placed in the top margin of each page, preferably in the top right.
  • If you are including any landscape-oriented pages, number all your pages in the upper right corner rather than centered at the top of the page, because at least half the time, the numbers will be in the correct position to appear in the upper outside corner when the thesis is printed double-sided.
  • For information on how to make these changes, please reference this link.

Required sections, guidelines, and suggestions

Your dissertation should follow the order of the drop-downs below. Click into each drop-down to understand requirements and best practices.

  • Required? Yes
  • The title of the thesis is typed in upper-and lower-case letters. This is to ensure that the words (such as proper names) within the title are capitalized correctly when listed elsewhere.
  • Do not include degrees or credentials of your advisor(s) and do not list other members of your committee. Committee members are listed in the Contributors and Funding Sources page. Include the word ‘Professor’ in front of the name of each advisor on the title page.
  • The name of your department and school appear on the title page. If you are in an interdisciplinary program, list the program name rather than a department, followed by the school(s).
  • Provide the year (but not the month or day) of your expected degree conferral. The degree conferral may, or may not, be the same year as the defense. Please refer to the PhD calendar for completion dates required for each of the five conferral dates through the year.
  • Required? No
  • This is a single statement on itsown page following the title page indicating an individual or group whom you wish to honor by the production of this work. If you include a dedication, it will be numbered as page ii. Acknowledgments are different; see details below.
  • Required? Yes
  • The table of contents needs to include entries for all of the front matter except for the title page and table of contents page. Also include, as part of the front matter, entries for your List of Tables, List of Figures, etc. (if applicable). Following those entries, indicate the title and page numbers of the main divisions or chapters and the major subdivisions or subheading levels. The numbering and wording used in the Table of Contents must match the numbering and wording of the titles and headings in the front matter and text. See above for correct page numbering.
  • You need not include every level of subheading, but if you include any listings from a certain level, you must include all from that level. Levels can be indicated in the table of contents by indenting, numbering or both.
  • The bibliography and any appendices must be listed with their starting page numbers.
  • Required? Yes
  • In one to three paragraphs, provide some basic facts about your scholarly life and career, without including personal data such as birth date. The information listed in this section should be limited to professional experience that is related to the field of the dissertation. These include the colleges and universities attended, the major fields of study at each, and the degrees and academic honors awarded. If you have relevant professional experience such as employment in your career field, you may describe it briefly. Follow this with a description of your work at the University of Rochester, including dates of residence, graduate programs pursued, name(s) of advisor(s), and all university appointments (e.g. fellowships, scholarships, research and teaching assistantships or traineeships). Do not include a complete scientific curriculum vitae or professional resume. Do not include future plans or employment.
  • Follow this narrative with a reference list of all works published or in review for publication during your time at the University, including content or results from the dissertation that have been published in full or in part. This listing may include publications mentioned on the Contributors and Funding Sources page. See that section below on including previously published articles as chapters in the dissertation.
  • Required? No
  • Acknowledgments are a statement of appreciation from you to others such as mentors, advisors, colleagues, friends and family, for their support during your doctoral study. Recognition of colleagues’ or mentors’ direct contributions to this work and of awards or funding sources that provided support for the work will appear in a subsequent section on Contributors and Funding Sources.
  • This section does not have to have the same professional information as the biographical sketch.
  • Required? Yes
  • The abstract should present a brief summary of the thesis indicating the purpose, the procedures or methods used, the results or product that was produced, and the conclusions you reached. The abstract should be written very carefully and proofread by your advisor because it will be distributed worldwide by ProQuest®/UMI in the electronic database “Dissertation Abstracts International.” In print indexes, the abstract will be truncated at 350 words, so you may wish to use this as a length limit. Electronic listings will include the full abstract regardless of length.
  • Required? Yes
  • In this section, name all members of the dissertation committee. Then, any collaboration with others in carrying out your dissertation research or in publications reflecting that research must be clearly described, and your independent contributions must be made clear. The sources of financial support for your research must be listed. If you completed all the work independently without outside funding support, indicate this here as well.
  • You may include as chapters or sections in the dissertation your own work that has been previously published elsewhere, as long as that publisher’s copyright permits, and as long as your contribution to multi-authored work is made clear in this section. The dissertation will not be approved if any content is subject to governmental or other restrictions that limit freedom of publication.
  • Required? Not always (see below for more detail)
  • A disclaimer is required in any document or other information product containing Scientific and Technical Information (STI) that resulted from research and development or related activities funded byDOE or performed at LLNL or another DOE facility.
  • The disclaimer should be worded as the following:
    • This document was prepared as an account of work sponsored by an agency of the United States government. Neither the United States government nor Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC, nor any of their employees makes any warranty, expressed or implied, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information,apparatus, product, or process disclosed, or represents that its use would not infringe privately owned rights. Reference herein to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the United States government or Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC. The views and opinions of authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States government or Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC, and shall not be used for advertising or product endorsement purposes.
  • Required? When applicable
  • List of tables:
    • If tables are included, all tables, whether on separate pages or included in pages of text, must be numbered and listed. Tables must be numbered uniquely and consecutively from beginning to end of the thesis. Table titles listed must be identical to the titles used within the body of the work.
  • List of figures, list of schemes, and list of symbols:
    • If photographs, maps, diagrams, graphs or drawings are included, a list with numbers, titles, and thesis page numbers must be included. If more than one category of illustration is used, provide an individual List of Figures, an individual list of Schemes and an individual List of Symbols, etc., each starting on a new page.
    • As for tables, figures must be numbered uniquely and consecutively from beginning to end of the thesis, and figure titles listed must be identical to those used within the body of the work. A List of Symbols or List of Abbreviations may be included after the List of Tables and/or List of Figures. Provide, in alphabetical order, the abbreviations and the words they represent. Page numbers are not required.
  • Required? Yes
  • Books, articles and other materials used in the dissertation should be listed according to the accepted bibliographic practice in the field of your thesis. A single bibliography at the end of the dissertation is preferred. If you list references or a bibliography at the end of each chapter, the first page of each should be listed in the Table of Contents. Bibliographies may be single-spaced.
  • Ethical scholarship requires that you show clearly the sources of the facts and concepts represented in your dissertation, whether published books and articles, unpublished historical documents or theses or personal communication with other workers in the field. The format of this documentation varies by field. Consult with your department and advisor for standard reference procedures in your discipline and apply them consistently. Plagiarism, even if unintentional, can result in forfeit of your degree.

Preparing for your defense

At least six months before you plan to defend your dissertation, you should contact the graduate coordinator of your program for details regarding the submissions defense. During the months leading up to the anticipated defense, your graduate coordinator will walk you through the process and explain any department specific nuances.

You also will want to take full advantage of internal reviews of the dissertation before uploading the thesis for defense registration, in order to minimize the number of errors in the registration version.

Pay careful attention to the five PhD degree cycle deadlines. In each degree cycle, there is a deadline for the last day to complete your degree requirements, consisting of uploading the final abstract and dissertation to ProQuest®, submitting a UR Research authorization form, and completing two required surveys. There are no exceptions to the deadlines.If a deadline is missed, your name cannot be approved by the Council on Graduate Education and presented to the Board of Trustees until the following degree date.

In some instances, when in-person attendance is not possible for a defense, a remote meeting program such as Zoom or Skype may be used to enable a committee member to participate in the defense remotely. An email request must be made to the University Dean of Graduate Studies that includes the names and email addresses of the student, committee members and defense chair with a reason for the request. Convenience is not an acceptable reason. If approved, a document outlining the conditions for the approval will be emailed to everyone.

Before the defense is scheduled, your graduate coordinator will need:

  • PDF of the Thesis
  • Names of all committee members
  • Faculty person that has been contacted and confirmed to be the Chairperson
  • Definitive date and time that all committee members have agree upon
  • Name as you would like it to appear on the Diploma
  • Your personal e-mail address that will be active for up to 3 months after graduation date.
  • A complete address to use for commencement and diploma mailings- that will be active for up to 3 months after graduation date.
  • Your ORCID

Assessing learning outcomes

After the oral defense, each faculty member of each final oral defense committee completes an evaluation of the rigor of the defense process and of the candidate’s degree of achievement of the University’s PhD Learning Outcomes. Because the PhD degree is granted by the University rather than by the individual schools, end-of-program PhD learning outcomes that apply to all disciplines are identified and assessed at the University level.

As part of these learning outcomes, the University PhD graduate must have demonstrated the ability to:

  1. Select and defend important problem or topic for study
  2. Demonstrate mastery of relevant knowledge in the field
  3. Apply rigorous methods of the discipline
  4. Produce a valuable product and accurately appraise its importance
  5. Communicate effectively in academic writing
  6. Effectively defend the work when questioned.

After the defense

The committee chair will certify the outcome and submit that information the University Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs office.

The student must make all corrections to the dissertation. This includes any identified by the committee, as well as corrections the graduate program staff asked for. A document prefaced with the letters UGE has been saved to the record in the PhD defense registration site.

Once corrections are made and approved as instructed above, the student will create an account and upload the final corrected copy to ProQuest/UMI. The student retains the copyright for the dissertation and it remains the student’s intellectual property.

  • The student will go to this website and create an account. Be sure all information is entered accurately.
  • Complete the ProQuest publishing agreement form.
  • The final uploaded copy in ProQuest is inspected by University Graduate Education staff to be sure all corrections were captured.
  • Complete the UR research authorization form indicating choices for access. Click here for the UR Research Form (Online).
  • One may limit access to the dissertation for a certain period of time. If that time expires, an email to UnivGradEducation@UR.Rochester.edu to extend the embargo will be required.
  • Complete the University of Rochester PhD Experience Survey and the National Survey of earned Doctorates. The University Graduate Education office will automatically be notified once these surveys are complete.
  • The ratings and related comments from both students and faculty are analyzed by University Graduate Education at least annually, in aggregated and de-identified form. Results are reported to the University Council on Graduate Studies and leaders of graduate programs to inform program improvements.

Please view your school academic calendars to understand the specific registration dates and requirements for graduation. Links to academic calendars are available on this page.

Once a student completes all these steps, they will receive a confirmation email from Proquest and a confirmation email from the University.

After your graduation date

The Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs office will be in contact to confirm correct name spelling on the diploma and to collect a valid mailing address that will be good for 6-8 weeks. If a student has a U.S. address, the diploma will be mailed directly from the company via USPS. If the student supplies an international address, we will receive the diploma and mail it back out with tracking information to the student.

Each of these processes is taking longer than expected because of the current COVID-19 mailing conditions.

In general, you will receive your electronic diploma about a week after you graduate and it will take another 6-8 weeks to receive the paper copy. Diplomas are mailed to the graduate in tubes.

The University bookstore has options for diploma covers.

Get additional information on Diploma and Transcript Orders.

Still have questions?

We encourage you to reach out to the graduate coordinator of your program for information specific to your needs. We’ve also compiled this additional dissertation resources guide with external resources that can help you understand copyright details, embargo processes, and more.

However, if you have general questions or feedback on this dissertation guide, you can submit them via the form below.

  • Optional: Please provide if you’d like a follow-up based on your submission
  • Optional: Please provide if you’d like a follow-up based on your submission

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