Dissertation Advisor

I was in the beginning of my sixth year in grad school, which I really hoped would be my last.

I felt my stomach sink as my thesis advisor and I reviewed my latest results.

Once again, my experimental setup had failed to purify the proteins we were interested in.

I had been working on this for a year, but all I had to show for it was a series of failed experiments.

I was sure it was all my fault that I wasn’t seeing results.

After all, I had nothing to complain about.

My thesis supervisor met with me regularly, and he was very patient with me.

I felt like something must have been wrong with me.

If I had a supportive supervisor, and all the resources I needed to do the experiments, then why couldn’t I produce the results that others had published?

My thesis supervisor suggested that I should try a new technique, and we agreed to meet again in a week.

When I walked out of his office, I felt miserable.

He was head of the department, and had a research group of more than 20 people.

I felt guilty that I was sucking up his time when there were so many other researchers he had to support, and ashamed that I had so little to show for my research.

I really started to doubt whether I should even try to finish grad school.

I felt like I was wasting everyone’s time, including mine.

But when I spoke to some of my fellow PhD candidates, almost everyone felt the same way.

It turned out that I wasn’t the only one plagued by guilt and shame.

I realized that there were other students whose research had also led to a dead end at some point while writing their theses.

I realized something else:

If my supervisor asked me to meet with him, it was because he wanted to meet with me.

My project was important enough for him to spend an hour each week on these meetings.

I was the one who was discouraged, not him.

I also realized that he (and the other research scientists on the project), were paid to support me.

These meetings were part of his job, not a “waste” of his time.

I felt relieved—at least a little bit—although I still wished that I had more results to show at our next meeting.

While my project didn’t take off after this realization, something about our meetings changed.

I was able to listen to what he was saying, and not take setbacks to heart. All the frustrating problems were just part of doing research.

Four months later, my persistence started to pay off when one of my experiments finally had promising results.

Of course, perseverance and grit were the major factors in this success.

But I could only move forward once I’d left behind my shame and guilt during my interactions with my supervisor.

Letting go of these emotions helped me to have more productive meetings with him, and to really listen to his feedback instead of worrying.

Are you struggling to stay confident around your thesis advisor?

If you’re feeling guilty or embarrassed during your thesis meetings, it can be hard to stay focused and get the guidance you need from your advisor.

Here are my five top tips for beating the guilt and shame, getting back your confidence, and making the most of your advisor meetings.

5 Steps to Being Confident During Meetings with Your Thesis Advisor No Matter What

Step #1:Focus on what your advisor is saying, even if you’re feeling frustrated.

It’s completely normal to feel discouraged if your thesis research isn’t going according to plan (or sometimes even if it is going according to plan).

You might even hear critiques from your thesis advisor that you don’t agree with.

I felt frustrated, and even discouraged, at various points in grad school.

The trick is not to let those negative emotions define your advisor meetings.

Your advisor is providing feedback because he or she is supposed to help you learn.

Advisor meetings are meant to help you, particularly when you’re struggling.

Rather than dwelling on how meetings make you feel, focus instead on the advice and recommendations you’re receiving.

In order to process my advisor’s feedback, I had to realize that critique, and even criticism, is a necessary part of getting a PhD or master’s.

To make the most of the feedback you get from your advisor, you’ll have to resist the impulse to get defensive or take criticism personally.

When you focus on feedback, you can stop dreading meetings, even during rough patches in your research.

If something’s gone wrong, the meeting is a chance to get your advisor’s perspective on why.

Here’s a tip that really helped me: practice framing your statements in a way that emphasizes what you want to learn, not how you feel.

Instead of saying, “I feel so ashamed that my experiment failed again,” try, “I wonder what ideas you have about why my experiment failed.”

This way, you’re focused on the work, instead of building up a negative picture in your head. With this approach, meetings with your advisor can be more productive, and hopefully less anxiety-inducing.

Step #2: Be proud of what you have done, even if you just show up.

This is one tip I really wish I’d learned sooner during graduate school.

I wasted hours of meeting time feeling guilty and inadequate.

This mindset got me nowhere, and didn’t help me get the best feedback from my supervisor.

Once I learned to see the value in everything I’d done—even the failures—I could move forward with my research.

Before you walk into your next meeting, make a mental index of everything you’ve done since the last meeting.

There’s no accomplishment too small to add to this list.

Don’t fixate on whether or not what you did was “successful.”

Instead, think about what you learned, or about what parts of your work your advisor can help with.

By now you know that getting a PhD, or a master’s, is a long process.

There will be times when you have a lot to share at your advisor meetings.

Other times you will feel like you’ve barely accomplished anything since the previous meeting.

Even if you feel like you have nothing to show for your work, don’t make the mistake of avoiding your thesis advisor.

You don’t have to waste precious meeting time being evasive or apologetic, either.

Be up front about what you’ve done, and proud of yourself for refusing to give up.

Simply getting admitted to grad school and sticking with it are major accomplishments.

Step #3: Ask questions: How did your thesis supervisor solve this problem, or does he or she know someone who did?

If you’re embarrassed or shy around your advisor, you might be too nervous to ask all the questions that are on your mind.

Or maybe you’re too focused on explaining yourself in meetings to remember to ask questions.

Again, your advisor meetings are supposed to help you, so seize the chance to ask your advisor plenty of questions.

This is also a good strategy if you’re intimidated by your advisor, or struggling to figure out how to communicate.

My meetings with my supervisor became more useful the more questions I asked.

Eventually, I started to prepare my questions ahead of time, partly to keep my own focus on my research and not on my feelings.

With questions already prepared, my meetings with my supervisor became much more rewarding.

When something goes haywire with your research, consider it a chance to ask plenty of questions.

Also, do some brainstorming for your next steps.

This can help take the shame and guilt out of the equation. Instead of defending yourself, you’re starting a conversation about what to do next.

Try jotting down a list of questions before you go to your meetings.

Your advisor will appreciate your preparedness, and it will help you to organize your thoughts and keep you thinking positively.

Step #4: Agree on milestones you can meet.

To beat my thesis guilt, I had to finally realize that failures were part of the research process.

In addition, I had to reconsider my definition of success.

My experiments weren’t producing the results I wanted, but they were still a valuable part of my research.

My expectations of myself—and of my thesis—weren’t always realistic.

Luckily, I had a supportive thesis advisor, who helped me set goals that I could realistically reach.

Remember, the most successful theses aren’t always the most ambitious ones.

If you’re consistently falling short of your thesis research goals, it’s time to rethink your approach.

Your milestones should be tasks that fall under your control.

Goals like, “I will see the results I’m looking for by next week” won’t work because there are too many variables.

Instead, work with your thesis advisor to set goals that center your work and your actions.

For example,:“I will try the experiment again with some changes, and record what I observe.”

When you fail to reach a milestone, be open and honest with your thesis advisor about it.

Ask what he or she thinks you could’ve done differently for a more successful outcome.

Finally, you don’t have to leave every meeting with your advisor with a mile-long list of tasks.

Some periods of your thesis work will be more productive than others.

If you’ll only have time for smaller tasks within a certain period, tell your advisor, and use what time you have to commit to attainable goals.

Step #5: Set up an action plan and agree on a follow-up

This last tip might be the most important.

If you’re worried about wasting your advisor’s time, the best thing you can do is show your advisor—and yourself—that you’re doing the work.

Following through the most important step.

My first few meetings with my thesis supervisor left me feeling lost, and unsure what to do next.

Fortunately, my supervisor didn’t give up on my research, even when I wanted to.

When I felt stuck, my thesis advisor and I were able to come up with an action plan for taking my thesis to the next stage.

With persistence, I followed through on our plan and finally started seeing results from my experiments.

If you’re worried about wasting your advisor’s time, try to structure your meetings around concrete steps you can take.

Don’t keep it to yourself if you feel stuck.

Instead, begin a meeting by asking, “Do you have advice about the next step to take with my thesis?”

To set yourself up for success, finish each meeting with an action plan: a list of steps you will take before the next time you meet with your advisor.

Remember the advice from the previous tip: Your action plan should include milestones that are realistic, that you can achieve.

This also gives you a framework for your next meeting.

With a detailed plan, you already have a topic of discussion to lead with, and you don’t have to feel anxious about knowing what to talk about.

The key to an effective action plan is to follow up.

Stick to the plan you’ve agreed on with your thesis advisor, and if you need to make a change, be clear and honest about it from the beginning.

Demonstrate to your thesis advisor that you can set goals for yourself, stick to them, and effectively think on your feet if the plan needs to change.

As long as you’re holding yourself to this standard, you have nothing to feel guilty or ashamed about.

If your confidence is in crisis when it comes to your thesis supervisor, you aren’t the only one.

A good advisor should challenge you to do your best work, and give you guidance on how your research can improve.

Shame or guilt shouldn’t cause you to dread your advisor meetings, or worse, avoid them altogether.

Instead, with these five tips you can take those negative emotions out of your meetings, and concentrate on getting the most out of them.

After all, your meetings with your thesis supervisor are about you.

What is your #1 challenge when it comes to having an effective meeting with your thesis advisor? Leave a comment below and I will reply to you directly. Looking forward to hearing from you:)

The “Finish Your Thesis Program” is Opening Soon!

Click here to get on the waiting list for the program and you will receive a free copy of my book “Finish Your Thesis Faster”

For other uses, see Thesis (disambiguation).

"Dissertation" redirects here. For the novel, see The Dissertation.

A thesis or dissertation[1] is a document submitted in support of candidature for an academic degree or professional qualification presenting the author's research and findings.[2] In some contexts, the word "thesis" or a cognate is used for part of a bachelor's or master's course, while "dissertation" is normally applied to a doctorate, while in other contexts, the reverse is true.[3] The term graduate thesis is sometimes used to refer to both master's theses and doctoral dissertations.[4]

The required complexity or quality of research of a thesis or dissertation can vary by country, university, or program, and the required minimum study period may thus vary significantly in duration.

The word "dissertation" can at times be used to describe a treatise without relation to obtaining an academic degree. The term "thesis" is also used to refer to the general claim of an essay or similar work.

Etymology[edit]

The term "thesis" comes from the Greek θέσις, meaning "something put forth", and refers to an intellectual proposition. "Dissertation" comes from the Latindissertātiō, meaning "path".

Structure and presentation style[edit]

Structure[edit]

A thesis (or dissertation) may be arranged as a thesis by publication or a monograph, with or without appended papers, respectively, though many graduate programs allow candidates to submit a curated collection of published papers. An ordinary monograph has a title page, an abstract, a table of contents, comprising the various chapters (e.g., introduction, literature review, methodology, results, discussion), and a bibliography or (more usually) a references section. They differ in their structure in accordance with the many different areas of study (arts, humanities, social sciences, technology, sciences, etc.) and the differences between them. In a thesis by publication, the chapters constitute an introductory and comprehensive review of the appended published and unpublished article documents.

Dissertations normally report on a research project or study, or an extended analysis of a topic. The structure of a thesis or dissertation explains the purpose, the previous research literature which impinges on the topic of the study, the methods used and the findings of the project. Most world universities use a multiple chapter format : a) an introduction, which introduces the research topic, the methodology, as well as its scope and significance; b) a literature review, reviewing relevant literature and showing how this has informed the research issue; c) a methodology chapter, explaining how the research has been designed and why the research methods/population/data collection and analysis being used have been chosen; d) a findings chapter, outlining the findings of the research itself; e) an analysis and discussion chapter, analysing the findings and discussing them in the context of the literature review (this chapter is often divided into two—analysis and discussion); f) a conclusion.[5][6]

Style[edit]

Degree-awarding institutions often define their own house style that candidates have to follow when preparing a thesis document. In addition to institution-specific house styles, there exist a number of field-specific, national, and international standards and recommendations for the presentation of theses, for instance ISO 7144.[2] Other applicable international standards include ISO 2145 on section numbers, ISO 690 on bibliographic references, and ISO 31 on quantities or units.

Some older house styles specify that front matter (title page, abstract, table of content, etc.) uses a separate page number sequence from the main text, using Roman numerals. The relevant international standard[2] and many newer style guides recognize that this book design practice can cause confusion where electronic document viewers number all pages of a document continuously from the first page, independent of any printed page numbers. They, therefore, avoid the traditional separate number sequence for front matter and require a single sequence of Arabic numerals starting with 1 for the first printed page (the recto of the title page).

Presentation requirements, including pagination, layout, type and color of paper, use of acid-free paper (where a copy of the dissertation will become a permanent part of the library collection), paper size, order of components, and citation style, will be checked page by page by the accepting officer before the thesis is accepted and a receipt is issued.

However, strict standards are not always required. Most Italian universities, for example, have only general requirements on the character size and the page formatting, and leave much freedom for the actual typographic details.[7]

Thesis committee[edit]

A thesis or dissertation committee is a committee that supervises a student's dissertation. In the US, these committees usually consist of a primary supervisor or advisor and two or more committee members, who supervise the progress of the dissertation and may also act as the examining committee, or jury, at the oral examination of the thesis (see below).

At most universities, the committee is chosen by the student in conjunction with his or her primary adviser, usually after completion of the comprehensive examinations or prospectus meeting, and may consist of members of the comps committee. The committee members are doctors in their field (whether a PhD or other designation) and have the task of reading the dissertation, making suggestions for changes and improvements, and sitting in on the defense. Sometimes, at least one member of the committee must be a professor in a department that is different from that of the student.

Regional and degree-specific practices and terminologies[edit]

Argentina[edit]

In the Latin American docta, the academic dissertation can be referred to as different stages inside the academic program that the student is seeking to achieve into a recognized Argentine University, in all the cases the students must develop original contribution in the chosen fields by means of several paper work and essays that comprehend the body of the thesis.[8] Correspondingly to the academic degree, the last phase of an academic thesis is called in Spanish a defensa de grado, defensa magistral or defensa doctoral in cases in which the university candidate is finalizing his or her licentiate, master's, or PhD program. According to a committee resolution, the dissertation can be approved or rejected by an academic committee consisting of the thesis director, the thesis coordinator, and at least one evaluator from another recognized university in which the student is pursuing his or her academic program. All the dissertation referees must already have achieved at least the academic degree that the candidate is trying to reach.[9]

Canada[edit]

At English-speaking Canadian universities, writings presented in fulfillment of undergraduate coursework requirements are normally called papers, term papers or essays. A longer paper or essay presented for completion of a 4-year bachelor's degree is sometimes called a major paper. High-quality research papers presented as the empirical study of a "postgraduate" consecutive bachelor with Honours or Baccalaureatus Cum Honore degree are called thesis (Honours Seminar Thesis). Major papers presented as the final project for a master's degree are normally called thesis; and major papers presenting the student's research towards a doctoral degree are called theses or dissertations.

At Canadian universities under the French influenced system,[10] students may have a choice between presenting a "mémoire"', which is a shorter synthetic work (roughly 75 pages) and a thèse which is one hundred pages or more.[citation needed] A synthetic monograph associated with doctoral work is referred to as a "thèse". See also compilation thesis. Either work can be awarded a "mention d'honneur" (excellence) as a result of the decision by the examination committee, although these are rare.

A typical undergraduate paper or essay might be forty pages. Master's theses are approximately one hundred pages. PhD theses are usually over two hundred pages. This may vary greatly by discipline, program, college, or university. However, normally the required minimum study period is primarily depending on the complexity or quality of research requirements.

Theses Canada acquires and preserves a comprehensive collection of Canadian theses at Library and Archives Canada' (LAC) through partnership with Canadian universities who participate in the program.[11]

Croatia[edit]

At most university faculties in Croatia, a degree is obtained by defending a thesis after having passed all the classes specified in the degree programme. In the Bologna system, the bachelor's thesis, called završni rad (literally "final work" or "concluding work") is defended after 3 years of study and is about 30 pages long. Most students with bachelor's degrees continue onto master's programmes which end with a master's thesis called diplomski rad (literally "diploma work" or "graduate work"). The term dissertation is used for a doctoral degree paper (doktorska disertacija).

Czech Republic[edit]

In the Czech Republic, higher education is completed by passing all classes remaining to the educational compendium for given degree and defending a thesis. For bachelors programme the thesis is called bakalářská práce (bachelors thesis), for master's degrees and also doctor of medicine or dentistry degrees it is the diplomová práce (master's thesis), and for Philosophiae doctor (PhD.) degree it is dissertation dizertační práce. Thesis for so called Higher-Professional School (Vyšší odborná škola, VOŠ) is called absolventská práce.

Finland[edit]

The following types of thesis are used in Finland (names in Finnish/Swedish):

  • Kandidaatintutkielma/kandidatavhandling is the dissertation associated with lower-level academic degrees (bachelor's degree), and at universities of applied science.
  • Pro gradu(-tutkielma)/(avhandling )pro gradu, colloquially referred to simply as 'gradu', is the dissertation for master's degrees, which make up the majority of degrees conferred in Finland, and this is therefore the most common type of thesis submitted in the country. The equivalent for engineering and architecture students is diplomityö/diplomarbete.
  • The highest-level theses are called lisensiaatintutkielma/licentiatavhandling and (tohtorin)väitöskirja/doktorsavhandling, for licentiate and doctoral degrees, respectively.

France[edit]

In France, the academic dissertation or thesis is called a thèse and it is reserved for the final work of doctoral candidates. The minimum page length is generally (and not formally) 100 pages (or about 400,000 characters), but is usually several times longer (except for technical theses and for "exact sciences" such as physics and maths).

To complete a master's degree in research, a student is required to write a mémoire, the French equivalent of a master's thesis in other higher education systems.

The word dissertation in French is reserved for shorter (1,000–2,000 words), more generic academic treatises.

The defense is called a soutenance.

Germany[edit]

In Germany, an academic thesis is called Abschlussarbeit or, more specifically, the basic name of the degree complemented by -arbeit (e.g., Diplomarbeit, Masterarbeit, Doktorarbeit). For bachelor's and master's degrees, the name can alternatively be complemented by -thesis instead (e.g., Bachelorthesis).

Length is often given in page count and depends upon departments, faculties, and fields of study. A bachelor's thesis is often 40–60 pages long, a diploma thesis and a master's thesis usually 60–100. The required submission for a doctorate is called a Dissertation or Doktorarbeit. The submission for a Habilitation, which is an academic qualification, not an academic degree, is called Habilitationsschrift, not Habilitationsarbeit. PhD by publication is becoming increasingly common in many fields of study[citation needed].

A doctoral degree is often earned with multiple levels of a Latin honors remark for the thesis ranging from summa cum laude (best) to rite (duly). A thesis can also be rejected with a Latin remark (non-rite, non-sufficit or worst as sub omni canone). Bachelor's and master's theses receive numerical grades from 1.0 (best) to 5.0 (failed).

India[edit]

In India the thesis defense is called a viva voce (Latin for "by live voice") examination (viva in short). Involved in the viva are two examiners and the candidate. One examiner is an academic from the candidate's own university department (but not one of the candidate's supervisors) and the other is an external examiner from a different university.[12]

In India, PG Qualifications such as MSc Physics accompanies submission of dissertation in Part I and submission of a Project (a working model of an innovation) in Part II. Engineering qualifications such as Diploma, BTech or B.E., MTech or M.Des. also involves submission of dissertation. In all the cases, the dissertation can be extended for summer internship at certain research and development organizations or also as PhD synopsis.

Indonesia[edit]

In Indonesia, the term thesis is used specifically to refer to master's theses. The undergraduate thesis is called skripsi, while the doctoral dissertation is called disertasi. In general, those three terms are usually called as tugas akhir (final assignment), which is mandatory for the completion of a degree. Undergraduate students usually begin to write their final assignment in their third, fourth or fifth enrollment year, depends on the requirements of their respective disciplines and universities. In some universities, students are required to write a proposal skripsi, proposal thesis or thesis proposal before they could write their final assignment. If the thesis proposal is considered to fulfill the qualification by the academic examiners, students then may proceed to write their final assignment.

Italy[edit]

In Italy there are normally three types of thesis. In order of complexity: one for the Laurea (equivalent to the UK Bachelor's Degree), another one for the Laurea Magistrale (equivalent to the UK Master's Degree) and then a thesis to complete the Dottorato di Ricerca (PhD). Thesis requirements vary greatly between degrees and disciplines, ranging from as low as 3–4 ECTS credits to more than 30. Thesis work is mandatory for the completion of a degree.

Malaysia[edit]

Malaysian universities often follow the British model for dissertations and degrees. However, a few universities follow the United States model for theses and dissertations. Some public universities have both British and US style PhD programmes. Branch campuses of British, Australian and Middle East universities in Malaysia use the respective models of the home campuses.

Pakistan[edit]

In Pakistan, at undergraduate level the thesis is usually called final year project, as it is completed in the senior year of the degree, the name project usually implies that the work carried out is less extensive than a thesis and bears lesser credit hours too. The undergraduate level project is presented through an elaborate written report and a presentation to the advisor, a board of faculty members and students. At graduate level however, i.e. in MS, some universities allow students to accomplish a project of 6 credits or a thesis of 9 credits, at least one publication [citation needed] is normally considered enough for the awarding of the degree with project and is considered mandatory for the awarding of a degree with thesis. A written report and a public thesis defense is mandatory, in the presence of a board of senior researchers, consisting of members from an outside organization or a university. A PhD candidate is supposed to accomplish extensive research work to fulfill the dissertation requirements with international publications being a mandatory requirement. The defense of the research work is done publicly.

Philippines[edit]

In the Philippines, an academic thesis is named by the degree, such as bachelor/undergraduate thesis or masteral thesis. However, in Philippine English, the term doctorate is typically replaced with doctoral (as in the case of "doctoral dissertation"), though in official documentation the former is still used. The terms thesis and dissertation are commonly used interchangeably in everyday language yet it generally understood that a thesis refers to bachelor/undergraduate and master academic work while a dissertation is named for doctorate work.

The Philippine system is influenced by American collegiate system, in that it requires a research project to be submitted before being allowed to write a thesis. This is mostly given as a prerequisite writing course to the actual thesis and is accomplished in the term period before; supervision is provided by one professor assigned to a class. This is later to be presented in front of an academic panel, often the entire faculty of an academic department, with their recommendations contributing to the acceptance, revision, or rejection of the initial topic. In addition, the presentation of the research project will help the candidate choose their primary thesis adviser.

An undergraduate thesis is completed in the final year of the degree alongside existing seminar (lecture) or laboratory courses, and is often divided into two presentations: proposal and thesis presentations (though this varies across universities), whereas a master thesis or doctorate dissertation is accomplished in the last term alone and is defended once. In most universities, a thesis is required for the bestowment of a degree to a candidate alongside a number of units earned throughout their academic period of stay, though for practice and skills-based degrees a practicum and a written report can be achieved instead. The examination board often consists of 3 to 5 examiners, often professors in a university (with a Masters or PhD degree) depending on the university's examination rules. Required word length, complexity, and contribution to scholarship varies widely across universities in the country.

Poland[edit]

In Poland, a bachelor's degree usually requires a praca licencjacka (bachelor's thesis) or the similar level degree in engineering requires a praca inżynierska (engineer's thesis/bachelor's thesis), the master's degree requires a praca magisterska (master's thesis). The academic dissertation for a PhD is called a dysertacja or praca doktorska. The submission for the Habilitation is called praca habilitacyjna" or dysertacja habilitacyjna". Thus the term dysertacja is reserved for PhD and Habilitation degrees. All the theses need to be "defended" by the author during a special examination for the given degree. Examinations for PhD and Habilitation degrees are public.

Portugal and Brazil[edit]

In Portugal and Brazil, a dissertation (dissertação) is required for completion of a master or PhD degree. The defense is done in a public presentation in which teachers, students, and the general public can participate. For the PhD a thesis (tese) is presented for defense in a public exam. The exam typically extends over 3 hours. The examination board typically involves 5 to 6 scholars (including the advisor) or other experts with a PhD degree (generally at least half of them must be external to the university where the candidate defends the thesis, but may depend on the University). Each university / faculty defines the length of these documents, but typical numbers of pages are around 60–80 for MSc and 150–250 for PhD.

Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Ukraine[edit]

In Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, and Ukraine an academic dissertation or thesis is called what can be literally translated as a "master's degree work" (thesis), whereas the word dissertation is reserved for doctoral theses (Candidate of Sciences). To complete a master's degree, a student is required to write a thesis and to then defend the work publicly. Length of this manuscript usually is given in page count and depends upon educational institution, its departments, faculties, and fields of study[citation needed]

Slovenia[edit]

At universities in Slovenia, an academic thesis called diploma thesis is a prerequisite for completing undergraduate studies. The thesis used to be 40–60 pages long, but has been reduced to 20–30 pages in new Bologna process programmes. To complete Master's studies, a candidate must write magistrsko delo (Master's thesis) that is longer and more detailed than the undergraduate thesis. The required submission for the doctorate is called doktorska disertacija (doctoral dissertation). In pre Bologna programmes students were able to skip the preparation and presentation of a Master's thesis and continue straightforward towards doctorate.

Slovakia[edit]

In Slovakia, higher education is completed by defending a thesis, which is called bachelors thesis "bakalárska práca" for bachelors programme, master's thesis or "diplomová práca" for master's degrees and also doctor of medicine or dentistry degrees and dissertation "dizertačná práca" for Philosophiae doctor (PhD.) degree.

Sweden[edit]

In Sweden, there are different types of theses. Practices and definitions vary between fields but commonly include the C thesis/Bachelor thesis, which corresponds to 15 HP or 10 weeks of independent studies, D thesis/'/Magister/one year master's thesis, which corresponds to 15 HP or 10 weeks of independent studies and E Thesis/two-year master's thesis, which corresponds to 30 HP or 20 weeks of independent studies. After that there are two types of post graduate degrees, Licentiate dissertation and PhD dissertation. A licentiate degree is approximately "half a PhD" in terms of size and scope of the thesis. Swedish PhD studies should in theory last for four years, including course work and thesis work, but as many PhD students also teach, the PhD often takes longer to complete.

United Kingdom[edit]

Outside the academic community, the terms thesis and dissertation are interchangeable. At universities in the United Kingdom, the term thesis is usually associated with PhD/EngD (doctoral) and research master's degrees, while dissertation is the more common term for a substantial project submitted as part of a taught master's degree or an undergraduate degree (e.g. BA, BSc, BMus, BEd, BEng etc.).

Thesis word lengths may differ by faculty/department and are set by individual universities.

A wide range of supervisory arrangements can be found in the British academy, from single supervisors (more usual for undergraduate and Masters level work) to supervisory teams of up to three supervisors. In teams, there will often be a Director of Studies, usually someone with broader experience (perhaps having passed some threshold of successful supervisions). The Director may be involved with regular supervision along with the other supervisors, or may have more of an oversight role, with the other supervisors taking on the more day-to-day responsibilities of supervision.

United States[edit]

In some U.S. doctoral programs, the "dissertation" can take up the major part of the student's total time spent (along with two or three years of classes), and may take years of full-time work to complete. At most universities, dissertation is the term for the required submission for the doctorate, and thesis refers only to the master's degree requirement.

Thesis is also used to describe a cumulative project for a bachelor's degree, and is more common at selective colleges and universities, or for those seeking admittance to graduate school or to obtain an honors academic designation. These are called "senior projects" or "senior theses;" they are generally done in the senior year near graduation after having completed other courses, the independent study period, and the internship or student teaching period (the completion of most of the requirements before the writing of the paper ensures adequate knowledge and aptitude for the challenge). Unlike a dissertation or master's thesis, they are not as long, they do not require a novel contribution to knowledge, or even a very narrow focus on a set subtopic. Like them, they can be lengthy and require months of work, they require supervision by at least one professor adviser, they must be focused on a certain area of knowledge, and they must use an appreciable amount of scholarly citations. They may or may not be defended before a committee, but usually are not; there is generally no preceding examination before the writing of the paper, except for at very few colleges. Because of the nature of the graduate thesis or dissertation having to be more narrow and more novel, the result of original research, these usually have a smaller proportion of the work that is cited from other sources, though the fact that they are lengthier may mean they still have total citations.

Specific undergraduate courses, especially writing-intensive courses or courses taken by upperclassmen, may also require one or more extensive written assignments referred to variously as theses, essays, or papers. Increasingly, high schools are requiring students to complete a senior project or senior thesis on a chosen topic during the final year as a prerequisite for graduation.[13] The extended essay component of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, offered in a growing number of American high schools, is another example of this trend.

Generally speaking, a dissertation is judged as to whether or not it makes an original and unique contribution to scholarship. Lesser projects (a master's thesis, for example) are judged by whether or not they demonstrate mastery of available scholarship in the presentation of an idea.[dubious– discuss]

The required complexity or quality of research of a thesis may vary significantly among universities or programs.

Thesis examinations[edit]

One of the requirements for certain advanced degrees is often an oral examination (a.k.a. viva voce examination or just viva). This examination normally occurs after the dissertation is finished but before it is submitted to the university, and may comprise a presentation (often public) by the student and questions posed by an examining committee or jury. In North America, an initial oral examination in the field of specialization may take place just before the student settles down to work on the dissertation. An additional oral exam may take place after the dissertation is completed and is known as a thesis or dissertation "defense," which at some universities may be a mere formality and at others may result in the student being required to make significant revisions. In the UK and certain other English-speaking countries, an oral examination is called a viva voce.

Examination results[edit]

The result of the examination may be given immediately following deliberation by the examiners (in which case the candidate may immediately be considered to have received his or her degree), or at a later date, in which case the examiners may prepare a defense report that is forwarded to a Board or Committee of Postgraduate Studies, which then officially recommends the candidate for the degree.

Potential decisions (or "verdicts") include:

  • Accepted/pass with no corrections.
The thesis is accepted as presented. A grade may be awarded, though in many countries PhDs are not graded at all, and in others, only one of the theoretically possible grades (the highest) is ever used in practice.
  • The thesis must be revised.
Revisions (for example, correction of numerous grammatical or spelling errors; clarification of concepts or methodology; an addition of sections) are required. One or more members of the jury or the thesis supervisor will make the decision on the acceptability of revisions and provide written confirmation that they have been satisfactorily completed. If, as is often the case, the needed revisions are relatively modest, the examiners may all sign the thesis with the verbal understanding that the candidate will review the revised thesis with his or her supervisor before submitting the completed version.
  • Extensive revision required.
The thesis must be revised extensively and undergo the evaluation and defense process again from the beginning with the same examiners. Problems may include theoretical or methodological issues. A candidate who is not recommended for the degree after the second defense must normally withdraw from the program.
The thesis is unacceptable and the candidate must withdraw from the program. This verdict is given only when the thesis requires major revisions and when the examination makes it clear that the candidate is incapable of making such revisions.

At most North American institutions the latter two verdicts are extremely rare, for two reasons. First, to obtain the status of doctoral candidates, graduate students typically write a qualifying examination or comprehensive examination, which often includes an oral defense. Students who pass the qualifying examination are deemed capable of completing scholarly work independently and are allowed to proceed with working on a dissertation. Second, since the thesis supervisor (and the other members of the advisory committee) will normally have reviewed the thesis extensively before recommending the student proceed to the defense, such an outcome would be regarded as a major failure not only on the part of the candidate but also by the candidate's supervisor (who should have recognized the substandard quality of the dissertation long before the defense was allowed to take place). It is also fairly rare for a thesis to be accepted without any revisions; the most common outcome of a defense is for the examiners to specify minor revisions (which the candidate typically completes in a few days or weeks).

At universities on the British pattern it is not uncommon for theses at the viva stage to be subject to major revisions in which a substantial rewrite is required, sometimes followed by a new viva. Very rarely, the thesis may be awarded the lesser degree of M.Phil (Master of Philosophy) instead, preventing the candidate from resubmitting the thesis.

Australia[edit]

In Australia, doctoral theses are usually examined by three examiners although some, like the Australian Catholic University and the University of New South Wales, have shifted to using only two examiners; without a live defense except in extremely rare exceptions. In the case of a master's degree by research the thesis is usually examined by only two examiners. Typically one of these examiners will be from within the candidate's own department; the other(s) will usually be from other universities and often from overseas. Following submission of the thesis, copies are sent by mail to examiners and then reports sent back to the institution.

Similar to a master's degree by research thesis, a thesis for the research component of a master's degree by coursework is also usually examined by two examiners, one from the candidate's department and one from another university. For an Honours year, which is a fourth year in addition to the usual three-year bachelor's degree, the thesis is also examined by two examiners, though both are usually from the candidate's own department. Honours and Master's theses sometimes require an oral defense before they are accepted.

Germany[edit]

In Germany, a thesis is usually examined with an oral examination. This applies to almost all Diplom, Magister, master's and doctoral degrees as well as to most bachelor's degrees. However, a process that allows for revisions of the thesis is usually only implemented for doctoral degrees.

There are several different kinds of oral examinations used in practice. The Disputation, also called Verteidigung ("defense"), is usually public (at least to members of the university) and is focused on the topic of the thesis. In contrast, the Rigorosum is not held in public and also encompasses fields in addition to the topic of the thesis. The Rigorosum is only common for doctoral degrees. Another term for an oral examination is Kolloquium, which generally refers to a usually public scientific discussion and is often used synonymously with Verteidigung.

In each case, what exactly is expected differs between universities and between faculties. Some universities also demand a combination of several of these forms.

Malaysia[edit]

Like the British model, the PHD or MPhil student is required to submit their theses or dissertation for examination by two or three examiners. The first examiner is from the university concerned, the second examiner is from another local university and the third examiner is from a suitable foreign university (usually from Commonwealth countries). The choice of examiners must be approved by the university senate. In some public universities, a PhD or MPhil candidate may also have to show a number publications in peer reviewed academic journals as part of the requirement. An oral viva is conducted after the examiners have submitted their reports to the university. The oral viva session is attended by the Oral Viva chairman, a rapporteur with a PhD qualification, the first examiner, the second examiner and sometimes the third examiner.

Branch campuses of British, Australian and Middle East universities in Malaysia use the respective models of the home campuses to examine their PhD or MPhil candidates.

Philippines[edit]

In the Philippines, a thesis is followed by an oral defense. In most universities, this applies to all bachelor, master, and doctorate degrees. However, the oral defense is held in once per semester (usually in the middle or by the end) with a presentation of revisions (so-called "plenary presentation") at the end of each semester. The oral defense is typically not held in public for bachelor and master oral defenses, however a colloquium is held for doctorate degrees.

Portugal[edit]

In Portugal, a thesis is examined with an oral defense, which includes an initial presentation by the candidate followed by an extensive questioning/answering period. Typical duration for the total exam is 1 hour 30 minutes for the MSc and 3 hours for the PhD.

North America[edit]

In North America, the thesis defense or oral defense is the final examination for doctoral candidates, and sometimes for master's candidates.

The examining committee normally consists of the thesis committee, usually a given number of professors mainly from the student's university plus his or her primary supervisor, an external examiner (someone not otherwise connected to the university), and a chair person. Each committee member will have been given a completed copy of the dissertation prior to the defense, and will come prepared to ask questions about the thesis itself and the subject matter. In many schools, master's thesis defenses are restricted to the examinee and the examiners, but doctoral defenses are open to the public.

The typical format will see the candidate giving a short (20–40-minute) presentation of his or her research, followed by one to two hours of questions.

At some U.S. institutions, a longer public lecture (known as a "thesis talk" or "thesis seminar") by the candidate will accompany the defense itself, in which case only the candidate, the examiners, and other members of the faculty may attend the actual defense.

Russia and Ukraine[edit]

A student in Ukraine or Russia has to complete a thesis and then defend it in front of their department. Sometimes the defense meeting is made up of the learning institute's professionals and sometimes the students peers are allowed to view or join in. After the presentation and defense of the thesis, the final conclusion of the department should be that none of them have reservations on the content and quality of the thesis.

A conclusion on the thesis has to be approved by the rector of the educational institute. This conclusion (final grade so to speak) of the thesis can be defended/argued not only at the thesis council, but also in any other thesis council of Russia or Ukraine.

Spain[edit]

The Diploma de estudios avanzados (DEA) can last two years and candidates must complete coursework and demonstrate their ability to research the specific topics they have studied. After completing this part of the PhD, students begin a dissertation on a set topic. The dissertation must reach a minimum length depending on the subject and it is valued more highly if it contains field research. Once candidates have finished their written dissertations, they must present them before a committee. Following this presentation, the examiners will ask questions.

United Kingdom, Ireland and Hong Kong[edit]

In Hong Kong, Ireland and the United Kingdom, the thesis defense is called a viva voce (Latin for "by live voice") examination (viva for short). A typical viva lasts for approximately 3 hours, though there is no formal time limit. Involved in the viva are two examiners and the candidate. Usually, one examiner is an academic from the candidate's own university department (but not one of the candidate's supervisors) and the other is an external examiner from a different university. Increasingly, the examination may involve a third academic, the 'chair'; this person, from the candidate's institution, acts as an impartial observer with oversight of the examination process to ensure that the examination is fair. The 'chair' does not ask academic questions of the candidate.[14]

In the United Kingdom, there are only two or at most three examiners, and in many universities the examination is held in private. The candidate's primary supervisor is not permitted to ask or answer questions during the viva, and their presence is not necessary. However, some universities permit members of the faculty or the university to attend. At the University of Oxford, for instance, any member of the University may attend a DPhil viva (the University's regulations require that details of the examination and its time and place be published formally in advance) provided he or she attends in full academic dress.[15]

Submission[edit]

A submission of the thesis is the last formal requirement for most students after the defense. By the final deadline, the student must submit a complete copy of the thesis to the appropriate body within the accepting institution, along with the appropriate forms, bearing the signatures of the primary supervisor, the examiners, and, in some cases, the head of the student's department. Other required forms may include library authorizations (giving the university library permission to make the thesis available as part of its collection) and copyright permissions (in the event that the student has incorporated copyrighted materials in the thesis). Many large scientific publishing houses (e.g. Taylor & Francis, Elsevier) use copyright agreements that allow the authors to incorporate their published articles into dissertations without separate authorization.

Failure to submit the thesis by the deadline may result in graduation (and granting of the degree) being delayed. At most U.S. institutions, there will also be various fees (for binding, microfilming, copyright registration, and the like), which must be paid before the degree will be granted.

Once all the paperwork is in order, copies of the thesis may be made available in one or more university libraries. Specialist abstracting services exist to publicize the content of these beyond the institutions in which they are produced. Many institutions now insist on submission of digitized as well as printed copies of theses; the digitized versions of successful theses are often made available online.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^Originally, the concepts "dissertation" and "thesis" (plural, "theses") were not interchangeable. When, at ancient universities, the lector had completed his lecture, there would traditionally follow a disputation, during which students could take up certain points and argue them. The position that one took during a disputation was the thesis, while the dissertation was the line of reasoning with which one buttressed it. Olga Weijers: The medieval disputatio. In: Hora est! (On dissertations), p.23-27. Leiden University Library, 2005
  2. ^ abcInternational Standard ISO 7144: Documentation—Presentation of theses and similar documents, International Organization for Standardization, Geneva, 1986.
  3. ^Douwe Breimer, Jos Damen et al.: Hora est! (On dissertations). Leiden University Library, 2005
  4. ^"The Graduate Thesis". 
  5. ^Thomas, Gary (2009) Your Research Project. Thousand Oaks: Sage.
  6. ^Rudestam & Newton (2007) Surviving your dissertation. Thousand Oaks: Sage.
  7. ^"Italian Studies MA Thesis Work Plan". 
  8. ^http://www.gfme.org/global_guide/pdf/13-18%20Argentina.pdf
  9. ^Comisión Nacional de Evaluación y Acreditación Universitaria (in Spanish)Archived 25 August 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^"Carleton University – Canada's Capital University". Carleton.ca. Retrieved 24 November 2010. 
  11. ^"Our Universities – About Theses Canada – Theses Canada Portal". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. 24 October 2008. Retrieved 24 November 2010. 
  12. ^"MSc Engg and PhD in IISc". Ece.iisc.ernet.in. Retrieved 24 November 2010. 
  13. ^Admin. "How to Write Methodology for Dissertation". researchprospect.com. Research Prospect. Retrieved 16 March 2017. 
  14. ^Pearce, Lynne (2005) How to Examine a Thesis, McGraw-Hill International, pp. 79–85
  15. ^"Oxford University Examination Regulations, 2007". Admin.ox.ac.uk. Retrieved 24 November 2010. 

External links[edit]

Look up thesis in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Cover page of a Licentiate dissertation in Sweden

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