Graduate Guide

Advising Thesis and Dissertation Students

Faculty advisers, committee members, and program directors all play key roles in providing the guidance and support that students need to complete a thesis or dissertation successfully.

Thesis and Dissertation Office

The Thesis and Dissertation Office in the College of Graduate Studies advises students about UCF electronic thesis and dissertation requirements, information regarding graduation deadlines and formatting of the manuscript.

Students should become familiar with the thesis and dissertation section of www.graduate.ucf.edu. Once students have a thesis or dissertation committee in the university system, they can log in to the Thesis and Dissertation Services site and ask format and process questions. They will use this same site to request format review of their thesis or dissertation, print their defense approval form, and complete their final submission.

The Thesis and Dissertation Office may be reached at editor@ucf.edu, and the semester deadlines for theses and dissertations are listed in the UCF Academic Calendar.

For a thesis/dissertation student planning to graduate in the semester, the Graduate College requires that the student:

  • Submit the bookmarked ETD PDF file for Format Review by the semester Format Review deadline
  • Submit the Thesis/Dissertation Release Option eForm in myUCF Student Center by the semester Format Review deadline
  • Receive Format Review approval and permission to do Final Submission from the Graduate College editor
  • Announce the defense at least two weeks prior to the defense date
  • Defend successfully by the semester Defense deadline
  • Complete Final Submission of ETD and deliver a signed Thesis/Dissertation Approval Form to the Graduate College editor by the semester Final Submission deadline

Setting the Groundwork: Program Handbook

Having a detailed Program Handbook can help students know what to expect at all stages of their graduate study in your program, including the thesis and dissertation stage. Here are some essential elements:

  • Have your graduate program committee specify guidelines for acceptable and exceptional theses and dissertations and scholarly work in your program handbook.
  • For all official exams, explain the intent of the exam, schedule when the exam will be offered, number of attempts allowed, what constitutes success, how to prepare and defend, how the defense will be evaluated, and attendance procedures.
  • Include a blank annual evaluation form in your program handbook.

Thesis and Dissertation Stages

This guide defines the following six stages of thesis and dissertation work and provides guidance and best practices for each stage.

Stage 1. Initiating Thesis/Dissertation Work
Stage 2. Enrolling in Thesis/Dissertation
Stage 3. Research Phase
Stage 4. Thesis and Dissertation Review
Stage 5. Defense
Stage 6. Thesis and Dissertation Final Submission

In addition, the following resources provide detailed information that will be helpful to you during thesis and dissertation advising:

Samples of Thesis and Dissertation Services student site, Approval Form, and Thesis and Dissertation Release (Dissemination) Option Form

FAQs related to the thesis and dissertation process

Policies Related to Thesis/Dissertation

Dissemination (Release) of Theses and Dissertations

Graduate Faculty and Graduate Faculty Scholars

Human Subjects Research

Patent and Invention Policy

Proprietary and Confidential Information

Review of Theses and Dissertations for Original Work

Viewing Thesis/Dissertation Status and Release Options

Programs:

PeopleSoft GRAD Custom > Graduate Summary > Academic Progress page

PeopleSoft GRAD Custom – thesis/dissertation status fields being added to Intent to Graduate lists

DocView – Document name is T_D RELEASE OPTION

Students:

myUCF Student Center > Graduate Students section > Thesis and Dissertation Status page

Thesis and Dissertation Services website > Homepage

Best Practices for Thesis and Dissertation

  • Be aware of important thesis/dissertation deadlines including format review, defense, and final submission dates in the UCF Academic Calendar.
  • Students are expected to familiarize themselves with the resources located in the Thesis and Dissertation Web course. Students at every stage of the thesis and dissertation process should use this non-credit Web course as their primary source for information on policies, procedures, formatting resources, and more.
  • Faculty are also welcome to access the Web course should they wish to familiarize themselves with its contents.
  • All thesis and dissertations must pass format review by the College of Graduate Studies ETD office in order to receive permission to upload their final document by the final deadline. Students should submit their work for review as early as possible and at least by the format review deadline of the semester that the student plans to graduate. Students will need to continue to submit their document for review until they receive format approval. Students will not be able to complete all ETD requirements without format approval.
  • Have the student file an Intent to Graduate Form at the beginning of the semester they plan to defend their thesis/dissertation. Be sure that the degree audit is clean and the student has met all degree requirements other than the thesis or dissertation requirement. Master’s students must have clean audits in the semester before they graduate since no petitions or exceptions to university policies will be approved in the semester of graduation.
  • Several weeks before the defense, have the student provide the Thesis and Dissertation Approval Form to you. It is important to check it early enough to allow time for any needed corrections. If the committee is incorrect, submit a correction to the Graduate College. If the dissemination (release) option on the form is not acceptable, have the student re-submit the TD Release Option eForm in their myUCF Student Center to correct it. After corrections have the student print an updated Thesis and Dissertation Approval Form for the defense. Do not use an incorrect Approval Form for the defense.
  • Students are responsible for collecting the appropriate committee and college signatures on the Thesis and Dissertation Approval Form. The student or a designated representative must deliver the signed form to the College of Graduate Studies office in Millican Hall, Suite 230 by the final semester deadline. Departmental approval pages will not be accepted. The signature of the Vice President and Dean of the College of Graduate Studies will be collected on behalf of the student once the approval form has been submitted to the College of Graduate Studies office. Extra copies of this form will not be accepted for signature.
  • All theses and dissertations at UCF are electronic. No paper copies are ever required.
  • Barring restrictions, all final ETD submissions are available through the UCF Libraries Electronic Theses and Dissertations page and also through the STARS institutional repository.
  • For university support services for thesis and dissertation students, refer to Thesis and Dissertation.

Stage 1. Initiating Thesis/Dissertation Work

Research and Scholarly Work Process and Policy Feedback and Evaluation
Outline a project that can be realistically completedIdentify potential journals for publication of research, so your student can become familiar with the types of work published and the formatting guidelines

Review proper use of citations

Advise student about good practices in scholarly writing in your discipline

Advise student to review university policies for thesis and dissertation. Have student review the program handbook and the Graduate Student Handbook, with special attention to expectations and requirements

Advise the student to attend ethics/responsible conduct of research workshops

Complete a Program of StudyPlan for the advisory committee to meet at least once per year

Best Practices

Research and Scholarly Work
  • Ensure that students use citations from authoritative sources, follow an acceptable citation style, and have complete citations.
  • Recommend that the student attend a citation management workshop offered by the UCF Libraries and consider using a citation management software. Share how you manage your own research work and what tools you have found helpful.
Process and Policy
  • The doctoral candidacy examination must be completed early enough so the student can be advanced to candidacy before the first day of classes for the semester in which they will begin to enroll in dissertation hours.
  • All transfer work, course substitutions, traveling scholar, and all exceptions to university requirements must be completed by this time.
  • Advise the student to attend ethics/responsible conduct of research workshops. These workshops are free for graduate students and are offered every fall, summer, and spring semester.

Feedback and Evaluation

  • Have the advisory committee regularly evaluate the student on progress and record these evaluations in your student files.
  • Complete the Program of Study such that the student has time to complete all required coursework in a timely fashion.

Stage 2. Enrolling in Thesis/Dissertation

Process and Policy Feedback and Evaluation
Complete candidacy requirements in time for enrolling in dissertation hours (7980) – must be completed prior to the first day of classes. Assess program of study completion.

Review preliminary degree audit

Submit advisory committee form (and Graduate Faculty nominations if necessary)

Have student attend Thesis and Dissertation formatting and beginning/completing the process workshops

Advise student concerning advisory committee composition

Forms

Doctoral Committee/Candidacy Status Form

Thesis Advisory Committee Form

Nomination and Appointment to Graduate Faculty and Graduate Faculty Scholars Form

Best Practices

Process and Policy
  • Please make sure that committee members are all graduate faculty or graduate faculty scholars and satisfy committee requirements. If a person you would like to be on the committee is not a graduate faculty member or graduate faculty scholar, then the person must submit a CV and the program must complete a Nomination and Appointment to Graduate Faculty and Graduate Faculty Scholars Form.
  • Schedule the candidacy exam for your doctoral student. If the candidacy exam is an oral exam of the dissertation prospectus, be sure to provide copies of the prospectus to the advisory committee; advance notice of two weeks is minimally acceptable. Your department or college may have other requirements.
  • Have your program staff run a degree audit for your student and ensure that it is up to date and shows that all coursework requirements are met and that courses that are not completed are registered for. If the audit is not up to date, this can cause delays while the college updates the audit.
  • In order for a master’s student to enroll in thesis hours, the following must be completed:
    • Thesis Advisory Committee Form, with the program of study or up to date degree audit attached, submitted to the Graduate College. This point is the final check for the student before graduation so that the only remaining requirement is successful completion of the thesis.
  • In order for a doctoral student to be granted candidacy status, the following must be completed:
    • Doctoral Committee/Candidacy Status Form, with the program of study or up to date degree audit attached, submitted to the Graduate College

Students may only register for dissertation hours once they have officially been changed to candidacy status. This point is the final check for the student before graduation so that the only remaining requirement is successful completion of the dissertation. Students must have completed this requirement before the first day of classes of the semester in which they wish to enroll in dissertation hours. Students enrolling in dissertation hours for the first time during the summer must have their paperwork submitted prior to the first day of classes for Summer C, regardless of which summer session they will enroll.

Feedback and Evaluation
  • Help your student choose the advisory committee. It is important that together you choose people who will have an interest in the subject, expertise in the subject, who have no conflict of interest either in the student (such as employment off campus) or in the research (paying for the project directly), and who are not related to the student. It is important that the advisory committee members fully intend to attend the advisory committee meetings yearly and at the final defense. The advisory committee members are there to guide the student and the research; they are not solely final readers of the research.

Stage 3. Research Phase

Research and Scholarly Work Process and Policy Feedback and Evaluation
Lay out the basic thesis/dissertation structureSet a schedule for research and thesis/dissertation completion

Work on writing skills and proper use of citations

Have student assist in a review of publications

Review chapters as drafts are available

Discuss intellectual property handling with the student Maintain student progress: Meet regularly and review the completion scheduleAssign appropriate S/U grades

Best Practices

The biggest problem during this period will be to ensure that the student is making timely progress on the thesis/dissertation. Good practice says to meet regularly with your student. Meeting once a week is recommended, although this will vary by subject matter and expectations.

Please refer back to the schedule that you developed with the student about chapter delivery at your regular meetings with the student to ensure that the schedule is being maintained. If not, then either redo the schedule or have a frank discussion with the student about your expectations for progress. If necessary, please document in writing the progress to date at certain points.

Research and Scholarly Work

Lay out the thesis or dissertation with the student, so they can see the chapters that must be written, and provide assignment deadlines for the chapters that are realistic. This will help students with procrastination and motivation issues and keep everyone on track. The deadlines can be flexible as the research warrants.

Process and Policy

  • Have a discussion with your student about intellectual property and the necessity, if it exists, for holding the dissertation pending copyright or patent. Both you and the student need to understand and agree on how the dissertation will be handled, once approved.
  • Review the following policies with the student:
  • Review the choices that UCF allows for ETD dissemination (release) and advise the student on the option that is best for their research. This decision does not have to be made until the beginning of the student’s last semester of thesis or dissertation.

Feedback and Evaluation

  • Please do not continue to give S (Satisfactory) grades on research hours if students are not making adequate degree progress.
  • If a student’s performance becomes unacceptable at any point, please familiarize yourself with the requirements found in the Assistantships section of the Graduate Guide regarding the “Resignation Process” and “Early Termination Before End of Appointment” for assistantship students.

Stage 4. Thesis/Dissertation Review

Research and Scholarly Work Process and Policy
Advise student about good practices in scholarly writing in your discipline. Review the final draft in its entirety with the student Advise student to file Intent to Graduate formReview degree audit

Check committee composition

Advise student to ask formatting questions and request help in the Thesis and Dissertation Services site

Advise student to submit for Format Review approval in the Thesis and Dissertation Services site by the semester deadline

Agree upon the dissemination of the thesis/dissertation and have the student submit the Thesis and Dissertation Release Option Form in the myUCF Student Center

Have student provide the Approval Form to you and check it for accuracy

Submit the draft document to the advisory committee at least two weeks prior to defense and ask for feedback before scheduling the defense

Best Practices

Research and Scholarly Work
  • Review the final draft in its entirety with the student. Please be sure that this is done in a timely manner. If the thesis/dissertation still needs editing, then please do not schedule the defense, even if the student wants to graduate. Please take the time to edit the thesis/dissertation, ensure the citations are accurate, appropriate, and complete, and be sure that the student has done the research envisioned in the research prospectus.
  • Once the final draft is ready, please send a copy to each of the Advisory Committee members and ensure that they have a minimum of two weeks to review it. Please ask Advisory Committee members to tell you if they have major concerns with the research prior to scheduling the defense and give them a date by which you need to know when it is good to proceed with the defense.
  • Your department may have a requirement that the program director be provided a copy of the thesis/dissertation prior to scheduling the defense and if that is the case, please be sure to send the program director a copy.
Process and Policy
  • Have the student file an Intent to Graduate Form at the beginning of the semester they plan to defend their thesis/dissertation. Be sure that the degree audit is clean and the student has met all degree requirements other than the thesis or dissertation requirement. Master’s students must have clean audits in the semester before they graduate since no petitions or exceptions to university policies will be approved in the semester of graduation.
  • For a thesis/dissertation student planning to graduate in the semester, the Graduate College requires that the student:
    • Submit the bookmarked ETD PDF file for Format Review by the semester Format Review deadline
    • Submit the Thesis/Dissertation Release Option eForm in myUCF Student Center by the semester Format Review deadline
    • Receive Format Review approval and permission to do Final Submission from the Graduate College editor
    • Announce the defense at least two weeks prior to the defense date
    • Defend successfully by the semester Defense deadline
    • Complete Final Submission of ETD and deliver a signed Thesis/Dissertation Approval Form to the Graduate College editor by the semester Final Submission deadline
  • Several weeks before the defense, have the student provide the Thesis and Dissertation Approval Form to you. It is important to check it early enough to allow time for any needed corrections. If the committee is incorrect, have your graduate program office submit a correction to the Graduate College. Check the dissemination (release) option on the form; if it is not acceptable, have the student re-submit the TD Release Option eForm in their myUCF Student Center to correct it. After corrections have the student print an updated Thesis and Dissertation Approval Form for the defense. Do not use an incorrect Approval Form for the defense.
  • Refer the student to the Thesis and Dissertation Web course for UCF formatting requirements for thesis and dissertation.
  • The UCF thesis/dissertation formatting requirements override discipline preferences. Questions about formatting should be submitted in the Thesis and Dissertation Services.
Feedback and Evaluation
  • Help your students in learning good practices for scholarly writing in your discipline. Now is the time to ensure that our students have the skills they will need for their professional careers.
  • If students lack the appropriate writing skills, please send them to the UCF Writing Center.

Stage 5. Defense

Research and Scholarly Work Process and Policy Feedback and Evaluation
Prepare the student for what to expect at the defense and conduct at least one practice sessionEncourage the student to attend other defenses in your program Schedule the defense with your graduate program office and the advisory committee

Announce the defense

Review and sign the Thesis and Dissertation Approval Form

Review structure of the exam

Review the Review for Original Work results with the advisory committee at the defense

Best Practices

Process and Policy
  • As mentioned in Stage 4, do not schedule the defense unless the student’s thesis or dissertation is ready for this evaluation.
  • Schedule the defense and issue the invitation widely. It is recommended that a staff person in your unit be charged with entering thesis and dissertation announcements in the Events Calendar of the Graduate College. Individual departments will have rules to follow with regard to how much notice is required for the defense announcement, but two weeks is minimal. No defense should be held without the prior public announcement of the type appropriate to the program. If this condition is not met, the defense should be rescheduled and re-announced.
  • Before the defense, have the student provide the Thesis and Dissertation Approval Form to you and check it for accuracy. Do not use an incorrect Approval Form for the defense. Corrections in the university system must be made and a new Approval Form printed for the student’s defense.
  • Note that the committee chair’s signature on the Approval Form indicates that the Review for Original Work requirement has been met. The student’s work must be submitted through iThenticate.com and the results reviewed and approved by the committee chair and discussed with the advisory committee at the defense.
  • Hold the defense. It is common to hold a general presentation of the research and allow the audience to ask questions, and then to dismiss general members of the audience, and have the advisory committee review the research, ask questions, and finally evaluate the research. Share with the advisory committee the results of the Review for Original Work. Review the Thesis and Dissertation Approval Form in advance of the defense and have it ready to be signed by the committee members at the defense. If minor changes are required, then most committee members will sign at the defense. If major changes are required, then signatures may have to be obtained later. If deadlines are looming, it is important that you know how to contact each of the advisory committee members before the end of the semester to get signatures.
  • All thesis/dissertation defenses should be held when scheduled unless there are truly extraordinary circumstances. If there are extraordinary circumstances and the thesis/dissertation defense cannot be held at the time scheduled, then please cancel the defense, and then reschedule and re-announce it.

Stage 6. Thesis/Dissertation Final Submission

Research and Scholarly Work Process and Policy
Have student make required changes Student must complete Final Submission to the Graduate College by the semester deadline in order to graduate

Best Practices

Process and Policy
  • Students complete the final submission in the Thesis and Dissertation Services site. The only paper document that must be completed and delivered to the Graduate College is the Thesis and Dissertation Approval Form.
  • Once final submission is approved for a student, no changes may be made to the student’s dissemination (release) option for the ETD. Final submission approval indicates that the ETD file is being transferred to the Florida Virtual Campus unless the ETD is being held on the Graduate College server for a Patent Pending (6 months hold).
  • The student must complete format review, defense, and final submission by the university thesis/dissertation deadlines. Otherwise, the student’s graduation will be delayed to the next term.
  • If a student’s graduation is delayed to the next semester, the student will need to file a new Intent to Graduate for the next semester. After that, the student will need to submit a new Thesis and Dissertation Release Option eForm in myUCF and print a new Approval Form. Changing the semester of graduation affects all of these items.
  • A student who meets the format review deadline and defense deadlines but does not meet the final submission deadline has the option to complete the final submission before the end of add/drop for the coming semester to receive a registration waiver from the Graduate College. A registration waiver means the student would not have to pay for additional tuition to graduate in the next semester. This option is not available to international students. Refer the student to the Thesis and Dissertation editor in the Graduate College for more information about a registration waiver.
Review for Original Work

The University requires all students submitting a thesis or dissertation as part of their graduate degree requirements to first submit their electronic documents through iThenticate for advisement purposes and for review of originality. The thesis or dissertation chair is responsible for scheduling this submission to iThenticate and for reviewing the results from iThenticate with the student’s advisory committee. The advisory committee uses the results appropriately to assist the student in the preparation of their thesis or dissertation.

Before the student may be approved for final submission to the university, the thesis or dissertation chair must indicate completion of the Review for Original Work requirement by signing the student’s Thesis and Dissertation Approval Form.

Fostering Academic Integrity

The Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning has posted guidance regarding Academic Integrity for university faculty.

Requesting Access to iThenticate.com

For information about iThenticate at UCF, please see the iThenticate section on the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) website. For iThenticate’s login (set-up) actions and/or system-related questions, thesis and dissertation chairs should contact RCR at rcr-ucf@ucf.edu for guidance.
Request for iThenticate Report

The best practice is for committee chairs to continue to run the iThenticate report themselves and complete the review before scheduling the student’s defense. However, for those who need assistance, the College of Graduate Studies will be available to run the standard Similarity Report for the full text of the document and will send the mhtml file (a portable file that offers limited interactivity) to the chair. The College of Graduate Studies will not review or interpret the report.

To request a report:

  • Send all requests to editor@ucf.edu
  • Requests should come from the chair of the thesis or dissertation committee with the Word or PDF file attached
  • If a program staff or student sends the email, the chair must be copied, to confirm the file is ready for iThenticate review
  • Following the best practice mentioned above, please send requests for iThenticate reports prior to scheduling the defense and no later than two weeks prior to the defense

Faculty are encouraged to run the iThenticate report and take advantage of the site’s features, as there are distinct advantages to faculty running the reports, including the ability to:

  • Select different modes of viewing the data
  • Exclude quotes and the bibliography
  • Exclude small sources (select word count or percentage)
  • Exclude small matches (select word count)


Academic Integrity Student Services and Academic Records