Preparing a Dissertation (or Thesis) (or Capstone)

Preparing a Dissertation
(or Thesis)
(or Capstone)
Common Sense Guidelines
Some Rules
Submission steps
• Submit to committee and program director
▫ iThenticate check
▫ Committee reads/reviews
Incorporate any changes corrections
Submit to GSBS
Make any changes
Register copyright
Submit to ETD server
▫ Same for Dissertation/Thesis/Capstone.
Published in academic calendar.
▫ Count on at least a week to get it back.
▫ Word document or PDF is OK for post defense
review, after committee changes incorporated.
▫ I will check out a chapter early if you would like.
Request for Final Oral Exam
Plagiarism Detection
• Software search for duplication.
• Submit word document:
▫ <5MB by email; >5MB by jump drive.
▫ If your document is >5MB, you can strip out:
 Front matter
 References
 Illustrations
• Changing one word is not paraphrasing.
• Quotations are OK!
The Template
It is there to help you
• Revision coming soon.
• It is optional!
• Remember -the version submitted should look
like the template – how you get there is up to
Why register your copyright?
For your protection
Not required
Small fee
What is Required for Final Submission?
Only the ETD
▫ No Bound copy required by GSBS or library.
▫ Even when doing an ETD you may well want
bound copies for your mentor or parents or your
▫ So margins count even in an ETD!
▫ You submit to the ETD server after I approve.
▫ Final submission a PDF
▫ Supplemental files allowed
Reducing PDF File Size
Requires Adobe Acrobat Pro
which can be obtained for free by any
UTMB student or employee by going to
Steps to Reduce File Size
• Open the PDF you would like to reduce using Adobe Acrobat Pro
– Close all Adobe Reader files that you may have open
– On a windows computer this can be done by right clicking on the
PDF and choosing Open With: Adobe Acrobat (Version Number)
• In the Menu go to Document->Reduce File Size…
– On Adobe Acrobat Pro 7.0 Reduce File Size… can be found under
• Pick the highest compatible with: option
– Should by Acrobat 9.0 or later, but if not pick the next highest
• Click Okay
• Choose where you want to save the reduced file
– You can overwrite the existing file
• Click Save
Steps to Reduce File Size, cont.
• Your Done, review the document and make sure everything is still a
high enough quality
– The first time should work with out a problem unless you have
very high quality images that don’t work well with the initial
Note: This process can be repeated as many times as you like, but be
careful because if done to many times it can make the text, tables,
figures, or illustrations unreadable. This sort of equates to if you
reduce the DPI of an image to much it will become grainy or look
Report of Final Oral Exam
But I Came Here to
Ask About the
Dissertation !
Title Page
How should you organize it?
There is a lot of leeway here.
• Common setup: Introduction/Background,
Methods, Data/hypothesis (by aims), Conclusions.
• This may not fit your document.
• This is dependent on your area and topic.
Do I Need a Methods Chapter?
• Use if the methods are roughly the same for each
subsequent section. Do NOT repeat the same
methods sections in multiple chapters. Do NOT self
quote the same descriptions.
 If each chapter uses unique methods, it is usually
better to put a methods section in each chapter.
 If there are lots of common methods, it is usually
better to use a separate methods chapter.
What if I’ve Already
Published Everything?
• Congratulations!
• But …
Read Like A Book
• Your dissertation should, that is.
• You need a coherent presentation, not simply a
collection of articles.
How to do that?
 Even if you have already published all or most of the
information, you will have to do some reformatting.
 Be sure the same style is used in each chapter – there are
frequently different styles for different journals, so:
 Do not just paste them in sequentially.
 Do not repeat the same stuff in every introduction, it may
have been needed in separate articles, but not when it is all
put together.
 Do not use “we” and “our” all the time like you would in a
 Do change the different journal styles to be consistent.
 Do cite the article if published as a footnote to the chapter
title, including permission to reproduce.
• Copyright permission is needed even if it is your
article or figure. If you have done a number of
illustrations yourself and they look really
professional, let me know they are yours when
you send the document – otherwise I will
probably ask where you took them from.
• Check the journal instructions to authors for
their policy.
What about Fair Use?
• If in doubt do a four factors evaluation. Even if
not in doubt, this is a good idea.
Common Problems: Repetition
• Often occurs if you are using your papers as
• Do not repeat introductions.
• Do not repeat methods.
• Never include chapter abstracts.
Common Problems: Page Numbering
• Front matter uses Roman Numerals.
• Numbers don’t start appearing until the
acknowledgements (p iv).
• Chapter one starts on page 1.
• All page numbers: bottom, centered.
• Numbers continue consecutively, through
appendices and references and biosketch
Common Problems: Citations
• In text references: three options. Use the style
that is appropriate to your discipline.
▫ Footnoted: Standard for Medical Humanities, Use
Chicago Humanities Style.
▫ Numbered: either consecutively (normal) or keyed
to alphabetical reference list.
▫ Author - date: e.g., Smith, 2001; Smith & Jones,
2002; Smith et al., 2003.
Common Problems: Citations
▫ If using contextual author – date citations (Jones,
2005) spell out two authors (Smith and Jones,
2004), use (Jones et al., 2005) for three or more,
listing only the first author.
▫ If more than one citation at a time, order them
within the parenthesis alphabetically or
(preferably) chronologically, oldest first. Never
randomly. Use the same system throughout.
▫ Be Consistent!
Common Problems: References
▫ Bibliography – discipline accepted style as
long as full titles, full pagination and authors,
i.e., no super-abbreviated styles like Science or
▫ Authors: list them all if 12 or fewer.
▫ Every source has an author!
▫ Pagination – complete and inclusive required.
So 606-621, never 606-21.
▫ Be consistent!
More on References: Titles
▫ Journal titles – always spell out single word
▫ Abbreviations are OK in multi-word titles
 Do not mix abbreviations and spell outs
 Always use the same abbreviation for the
same word. It can’t be Phys and Physiol in
different journals if the word is Physiology in
 Acronyms are only acceptable if used by the
journal itself. So JAMA is OK, PNAS is not
 Be Consistent!
Even More on References
• References: more is better than less.
▫ If you have references within a table, they must be
in your reference list
▫ If you are numbering references, do not start over
at each chapter
▫ Numbered references can be either alphabetical or
by order of appearance/citation (preferred)
▫ URL content changes, so include the date they
were accessed
▫ Cities should always have the 2-letter state postal
code included
Common Problems: Spacing
▫ Spacing – no huge white space
▫ (like this)
 Continue on with text, even if the table you just
referred to will start on the next page.
▫ Spacing – no hanging titles
 This is an exception to the no white space rule
Common Problems: Figures, Tables
▫ Placement: after first mentioned at the first convenient
▫ Don’t split Tables or Figures over pages, if possible
▫ The legend should be on the same page as the figure
▫ Don’t start fresh numbering with each chapter. There
may only be one Figure 1!
 1.1, 2.1, 3.1 etc. is OK
▫ It is preferable to have them in the text as mentioned,
but permissible to place at the end of a chapter
▫ If placement is difficult, you can center a table of figure
on a page and give it the entire page
▫ Need titles
▫ Margins still count
▫ They must be readable, even if you have to
▫ Should not introduce new references that are
not in your bibliography
▫ Pages are numbered consecutively with the
• Include one
• A formal CV is not needed
The Cardinal Rule
Always think of the reader!

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