Some General Advice on Submitting a Thesis or Dissertation for Examination
University regulations regarding the submission of a postgraduate thesis or dissertation both before and after the formal examination vary. Some guidelines for students are short and rather vague, whereas others are long and detailed; in either case, they must be consulted with care and usually followed to the letter. If there is little or no guidance available, it is wise to discuss the matter with your primary mentor or supervisor and to do so long before you plan to submit your work for examination so that there will be enough time for any and all procedures and technicalities that may require attention. The following notes cannot replace the regulations and guidelines of your university, department or supervisory committee, which must always be prioritised, but they may help you focus on concerns common to many theses and dissertations and encourage you to ask the right questions when you are uncertain how to proceed.
The format in which your thesis or dissertation should be submitted for examination and again after a successful examination is paramount. You may have been using one method for sharing your chapter drafts with your supervisor and other committee members, but the format required for formal submission prior to the examination may differ and so may the format required for the final submission of the thesis or dissertation after the examination is over and any final revisions are complete. For instance, you may have been sharing writing with your supervisor in Word, but will need to submit the thesis or dissertation as a pdf file for examination and add to that a printed version when you submit the final document. If a printed version is necessary, even the kind of paper the thesis or dissertation should be printed on may be specified, in which case the paper will usually be available for purchase via your department or university bookstore, but it is best to plan ahead and be sure you have access to everything you will need.
How to Achieve Academic Success
In most cases, your department or university will circulate your thesis or dissertation to the members of your examining committee, including any external examiners (those, that is, from outside your educational institution). However, there are cases in which postgraduate students have to manage these things themselves, including publishing the thesis or dissertation – often through their university press – before or after the examination. It is therefore imperative that you know exactly what your responsibilities are with regard to ensuring that your examiners receive your thesis or dissertation and do so early enough that they have sufficient time to read it carefully.
Time is always a concern, and the administrative forces of educational institutions are not always as flexible as students might want them to be. Early attention to deadlines and the amount of time necessary procedures and documents are likely to require is necessary. Incorporating deadlines and administrative processes into a working timetable for your thesis or dissertation will not only impress supervisors with your diligence and realistic approach, but also help you meet the necessary deadlines associated with submitting your thesis or dissertation so that it can be examined and your degree awarded in a timely fashion. You may also need to help with arrangements for the formal examination. Usually your department is responsible for this, but you may want to discuss scheduling with your supervisor in advance to arrange a time when you, your committee members and your external examiner will all be available – a time, ideally, that will allow the examination to take place as soon as possible after you have finished revising and submitting the thesis, especially if essential deadlines are looming.
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