Notes on Submitting a Dissertation/Thesis

Dissertation/Thesis Document Submission Checklist


Let’s start with a basic checklist which denotes a generic checklist for completing and submitting your dissertation or thesis. It may seem obvious, but  ensure you locate the official guidelines published by your Department. Most Colleges will publish this information on line or in secure student accounts. If that doesn’t work, try contacting your Registrar.

  1. Font: I suggest Times New Roman 12pt is the favourite script of most Colleges. Of course, many other fonts are acceptable (and look quite  nice!), but if there is a restriction, Times New Roman 12pt is almost always accepted.  The more common the font, the more likely it will be accepted.
  2. Set up your margins. This is really important. The size of margin required varies. Typically, it will be one inch on all four sides, except for theses and dissertations which may be bound for a library, and will require a larger left margin (typically 1.5 inches). If you set your margins to the correct width early in the writing process, it may save you major stress later (especially if you’re using tables that might be affected by the width).
  3. Double space. Most papers in the Humanities (MLA and Turabian style manuals) and social sciences (APA style manual) require this. This includes lengthy quotations that are set off from the rest of the text by indentation (double spacing required by APA, MLA; Turabian manual says quotations “may be single spaced”). Tables of contents, footnotes, and reference lists often have different linespacing requirements. Have a look at our referencing section elsewhere on this site.
  4. Number your pages. Pagination rules vary from institution to institution. And, of course, don’t forget Roman Numerals pre thesis proper and then Arabic numbering.
  5. Page headers are often required.
  6. Title Page. Most style manuals have examples of proper title pages. But this is usually highly Insituution specific.
  7. Front matter: this may include a signature page, a copyright notice, a dedication, and acknowledgments.
  8. Table of contents.
  9. Abstract. Keep it short and as simple as possible. Check your style manual for details. UMI Dissertation Publishing –the service that handles many or most dissertations in the U.S.–requires a 350-word limit on doctoral dissertation abstracts and a 150-word limit on master’s theses. A good abstract is worth the effort. It’s what people read first.
  10. The body of the text. Ahm….Not too much to say about this one! It should be obvious as it’s your work.
  11. Figures and images. Often it is most simple to include figures and images at the end of the text. If you are using images that are copyrighted, you will probably need to get permission for their use in your dissertation or thesis. Many studets forget this and it can well become problematic at a later date should you wish to publish. And, this includes the much-used Google images so favoured by students.
  12. List of references. Don’t leave this for last! Your references in the text have to be consistent with the references on the reference list. Although most references will be completed easily, don’t leave it to the last minute desperately trying to figure out how best to cite one of your references. Most style manuals have extensive lists of examples to help put references in the proper form. And, for God’s sake, don’t make up your references should you have incomplete ones!
  13. Paper. This varies significantly between Institutions. Some require dissertations and theses to be printed on special paper (usually low-acid or acid-free). It’s best to simply ask for direction on this one.

Dr. Niall McElwee is the author/co-author of several academic books including ‘Children At Risk’, ‘Irish Society’, ‘At Risk Children and Youth: Resiliency Explored’, ‘Effective Interventions with Families’, ‘Applied Social Care’, ‘Risk and Resilience’, ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town’ and two creative books, ‘Humanitas’ and ‘Oisin’s Journey Home’ in addition to many peer-reviewed papers for various academic journals around the world. He was founding editor of the Irish Journal of Applied Social Studies for ten years. Dr. McElwee established the Dissertation Doctor’s Clinic in 2007.

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