Section 11. Theses and Dissertation Preparation and Approval

11.10 Thesis and Dissertation Preparation
11.20 Thesis and Dissertation Approval

11.10 Thesis and Dissertation Preparation

11.11. Master’s theses and doctoral dissertations to be submitted in partial fulfillment of the graduate degree requirements shall be prepared in accordance with the instructions described in 11.12-11.16.

11.12. Students must comply with the requirements listed in the current Graduate School web document titled ‘Thesis/Dissertation: From Proposal to Defense’ that can be found at https://web.uri.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/843/ThesisDissertationProcess.pdf. In all cases, students must secure written approval of their proposals on the appropriate Graduate School form before formally starting work on a thesis or dissertation. Students are also responsible for consulting with the Graduate School regarding University requirements and all deadlines related to the submission, defense, and approval of theses and dissertations (see the Graduate School Deadline Calendar for listing of pertinent deadlines).

11.13. When preparing theses/dissertations, students are expected to consult with the major professor and members of the thesis/dissertation committee. The student’s major professor will be the principal supervisor of the work for the preparation of the thesis/dissertation and will decide, in consultation with the student, which structure will be used. The two structures acceptable for preparation of theses/dissertations are the Manuscript Format and the Standard Format. Regardless of the format used, all theses and dissertations (as well as all course papers, reports, etc.) must be prepared in accordance with the accepted standards of academic integrity, including proper citation and attribution of all material that is not the original product of the writer.

11.14. The Manuscript Format consists of the manuscript formatting guidelines published by the journal to which the research will be submitted for publication. If the thesis/dissertation consists of multiple manuscripts, the format of each manuscript must follow the formatting guidelines for the journal to which the research will be submitted for publication. There are a few universal formatting rules that override guidelines provided by journals. These include features such as pagination and margin size and may be found in the Graduate School web document titled ‘Thesis/Dissertation: From Proposal to Defense’ that can be found at https://web.uri.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/843/ThesisDissertationProcess.pdf.

11.15. The Standard Format consists of one of several formats for which electronic templates have been prepared. Theses templates are available in the Graduate School web document titled ‘Thesis/Dissertation: From Proposal to Defense’ that can be found at https://web.uri.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/843/ThesisDissertationProcess.pdf. Each of these templates contains all of the same universal formatting rules referred to in 11.14.

11.16. Theses and dissertations from group research: In most departments, the research that each graduate student performs in partial fulfillment of the requirements for an advanced degree is based on a project planned for one individual under the supervision of a major professor. This project may be a part of a much larger research effort being performed by several persons under the direction of that professor, but each student’s research and the thesis/dissertation that results from it is an independent effort performed by that student alone. In unusual cases where the research is less easily separated into individual projects, the quality of performance of any single individual is not measured as easily. In such situations, special precautions must be taken to ensure not only that no student receives credit for work performed by others, but that each student’s performance is of the level required for an advanced degree. In group research involving more than one graduate student, each student shall have principal responsibility for a substantial well-defined portion or area of the research project, and shall submit an individual thesis/dissertation proposal and an individual thesis/dissertation in which these responsibilities are clearly defined. In both the thesis/dissertation proposal and in the thesis/dissertation, any work done by another individual shall be clearly identified. A separate thesis/dissertation defense will be conducted for each individual participating in such group research.

11.20 Thesis and Dissertation Approval

11.21. Establishment of a defense committee: An oral examination in defense of a thesis/dissertation is required in all thesis-based master’s degree programs, and in all Ph.D. programs. In addition to the student’s program committee, the defense committee will include members of the graduate faculty outside of their program committee who are competent and willing to be nominated as the additional member(s) of their defense committee. For the master’s degree, one member of the graduate faculty is needed, usually from a department other than that in which the student is enrolled (see 8.42.3). For the Ph.D., one member of the graduate faculty is needed, from a department other than the one in which the student is enrolled (see 8.43.4). In both cases, the outside member will normally be designated as chair of the oral defense committee. The student should inform the additional faculty member that their name is being submitted in nomination to the Dean of the Graduate School who is not restricted in the choice to the name submitted.

11.22. Authorization to schedule a defense
: Once the full defense committee has been chosen, the next step is to secure approval to proceed with the defense. The major professor must first sign the defense request form to signify that the thesis/dissertation is in a form acceptable for defense and that it is, in fact, defendable. The requirement that the document be acceptable and defendable means that it 1) is complete and contains all text, data, tables, charts, maps, photographs, appendices, full references, citations, and/or bibliographies as required by accepted standards of academic integrity, 2) represents a finished scholarly product of the student’s research in the format required for submission, and 3) is free of obvious fatal flaws. When the major professor has thoroughly reviewed the final draft and determined that it is defendable, the student will submit the Request for Oral Examination in Defense of a Thesis/Dissertation form (https://web.uri.edu/graduate-school/forms/). This form will include a proposed date, time, and location of the defense. The form will automatically circulate to the major professor, remaining members of the program committee and the additional member(s) of the defense committee. Their signatures signify that they agree to participate in the defense at the time, date, and location specified on the defense request form. When the Request for Oral Examination in Defense of Thesis/Dissertation form has been fully signed, it will automatically be routed to the Graduate School for final approval.

11.23. Permission to defend a thesis/dissertation: Prior to the deadline published in the Graduate School Deadline Calendar, and at least 20 calendar days before the date on which the defense is proposed to be held. The Request to Schedule an Oral Defense of a Master’s Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation signed by every member of the defense committee must be submitted to the Graduate School. The selection of the type of defense copy requested by each member of the defense committee (i.e., paper, electronic, or a combination of both) is made by the student on the Request to Schedule an Oral Defense of a Master’s Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation form. If paper copies are requested, these copies of the thesis/dissertation submitted for defense may contain a reasonable number of clearly legible corrections.

After a successful defense, final copies of the dissertation must be digitally submitted to the graduate school and they must be accompanied by a signed title page. Type size, margins and typed pagination must all conform to Graduate School standards (see Graduate School web document titled ‘Thesis/Dissertation: From Proposal to Defense’ that can be found at https://web.uri.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/843/ThesisDissertationProcess.pdf).

11.24. Upon receipt of the request for the oral defense, the Dean of the Graduate School will be responsible for reviewing the student’s entire record to ascertain that they have completed all other degree requirements. If the review is satisfactory, the oral examination in defense of the thesis/dissertation will be scheduled and the student will be instructed to proceed as in 11.25 below.

NOTE: Scheduling of oral and written examinations, including qualifying, comprehensive, and defense of theses/dissertations, during the regular summer sessions will be done only at the convenience of the faculty members involved and will be scheduled depending upon the availability of the student’s program committee and additional qualified examiners. Examinations will not be scheduled during periods when the University is in recess. Students must be registered for any semester or summer term in which they take an examination.

11.25. Not fewer than 15 calendar days prior to the date set for their oral defense, students shall distribute defendable electronic or physical copies of their thesis/dissertation to the members of their oral defense committee.  The members of the oral defense committee shall examine the thesis/dissertation for evidence of sound scholarship and shall bring to the oral defense written suggestions for changes or corrections in the manuscript.

11.26. All examinations in defense of a thesis/dissertation shall be open to all faculty and students of this University. In exceptional circumstances, as determined by the majority of the examining committee, any of these examinations may be closed.

11.27. It shall be the responsibility of the chair of the oral examining committee to conduct the examination and to provide for changes and corrections to be made in a successfully defended thesis/dissertation before it is given committee approval. A unanimous vote of approval is required for a student to have passed the defense. The Defense Chair shall submit the Results of an Oral Examination in Defense of a Thesis/Dissertation form (https://web.uri.edu/graduate-school/forms/). All members of the oral examining committee will sign this form certifying the student’s successful defense of the thesis/dissertation. When a student’s performance is unsatisfactory, one re-examination may be recommended and the conditions under which it is to be given will be stated by the committee.

11.28. Approval of the thesis/dissertation itself will be certified by the signatures of the major professor and the remainder of the program committee on the formal signature page of the thesis/dissertation. Handwritten or secure digital signatures are required. These signatures confirm that any changes and corrections to the thesis/dissertation required by the entire defense committee have been made. Only the members of the program committee, not the additional members of the defense committee, sign the formal signature page of the thesis/dissertation. In the event that a student passed the oral examination in defense of the thesis/dissertation but is required to have a member or members of the defense committee in addition to the major advisor certify that the required changes were in fact made, the major professor or defense chair must obtain the signatures of those faculty members on the form titled “Certification that Mandatory Corrections were Made to a Successfully Defended Thesis/Dissertation” can be found on the Graduate School’s forms page: https://web.uri.edu/graduate-school/forms/ for doctoral dissertations. This form serves to verify that the required changes were made and that the revised thesis/dissertation meets the approval of the appropriate faculty members. The completed form is then submitted to the Graduate School.

11.29. Final approval of all theses/dissertations rests with the Dean of the Graduate School.