Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Edris Stuebner: Submitting Your Dissertation Q + A

Thanks to Bennett for the ultimate organized procrastinator supplies

During our last meeting, we invited Edris Stuebner, Assistant Registrar, to come and talk about the nitty gritty details of submitting your dissertation for final approval.

You may think that this is a step that is in a galaxy far, far away from where you are right now, but having this information at the beginning of the process can be really useful and help you to avoid last minute craziness at the end.

Without further ado....

Edris can be your beacon of hope to help you to the finish line!

Notes from Edris

How long does it take students to go through the whole Ph.D. process at CGU

4 years is about the quickest I've seen a student go through the entire Ph.D. process....the longest has been 20 years.

What types of things do you do at CGU?

I order the diplomas, check to make sure you've got all your units and reached all your milestones, take the dissertation, and put your name in the convocation program.

I have an open door policy and I'm happy to talk to anyone.

Do you read all those dissertations that come in?

No. I check margins, pagination. I even had a case where a student spelled his own name wrong. Simple things can be missed, so that's why my eyes are there before it gets too far.

How many copies do we need? What are they for?

You make 1 original, with original signatures, and 1 copy.

I sent a copy to the library, then release one to Ann Arbor. It takes 7 months to process that copy into ProQuest.

Some day, this whole process will be electronic. But for now, you need these copies. Ann Arbor will go through it all again and check it. The most common problem they find is a missing page. So please, check pagination.

I will count your pages.

I send the original back to the library, then send it out for binding, then they put one copy in archives. If someone steals a copy off the shelves, they'll make a copy from the original.

That's the reason for the 2 copies.

What's the deal with the margins? What size should they be?

The binding is 1 and 1/2 inches on the left. I get 1 and 1/4 from students lots of times. I don't know why. They'll swear that their computer program was set to 1 and 1/2, but when you measure it with a ruler, it comes out to 1 and 1/4.

This is especially important for appendices.

Tables - remember, you don't want your table chewed up in the margin. You can reduce it to make it fit or have a foldout.

Can I use color?

Absolutely. It looks beautiful. Color graphs, color photographs.

What font should I use? What font size?

Type: At least 10 point, 12 is better. Times New Roman is best.

What about justifying the text?

Justified left, not necessarily the right.

What about running headers?

Running headers are okay.

How should I do the page numbers?

50% of all dissertations that I take in have the pagination wrong, usually in the first part. Look at page 3 of the handout.

Small Roman numbers look like this: i, ii, iii, iv, v, vi, vii. They go on the Acknowledgements (optional), Preface (optional), Table of Contents, and Table of Figures (optional).

Arabic numbers look like this: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. They begin on the Introduction (optional) or Chapter One (if there isn't an Introduction).

Usually if I see this kind of error (goofing up the pagination), I will accept the dissertation temporarily. I don't want someone not to graduate because of page numbers. But I'll send them home to fix it.

Where you start putting numbers on the pages --> the Acknowledgements page
at the bottom, center bottom

Personally, I would like to see all pagination centered at the bottom. Why? If you make it into a book, its easier. But as long as whatever you use is consistent, I'll accept it. Ultimately, go by whatever your committee tells you.

Once, it took a gentleman 5 hours to figure out his pagination.

There are two ways to do copyright in terms of pagination - either on the title page or its own page (count it, but don't put a number on it)

Remember to double space everything. The abstract, Acknowledgements, etc.

Chapter One / page 1 ------> Arabic page 1

Don't take off from the preliminary pages. I see this happen about once a year.

Is there a way to format the margins and pagination from the very beginning so I don't have to fix all this stuff the week before my defense?

It's good to know that for some students, there is a discrepancy between what their software says is the margin size and what it actually prints out. It's always better to trust a real ruler and the page in front of you rather than assume the software is doing what it says it is.

Remember, there's the preliminary pages versus the text. Make two different files! Don't have a different document for each chapter, but make one document that has the Small Roman pagination, and one document where the Arabic pagination begins.

Margins should be: 1 and 1/2 on the left, 1 inch on the other three sides each.

I don't measure the right, but the left is extremely important for binding purposes.

Why is this all so complicated?!

You know, when you're at the end of the process, you're tired, you start reading into things, seeing things that aren't there.. Sometimes, it's a lot more simple than you think.

Title page - you count it, but you don't put a page number on it.

What's the format for the title page?

There's a sample title page on page 6 of the handout.

Title - The title of your dissertation does not have to be in all caps, but you should follow the usual guidelines for capitalization of words in titles.

Your Name - Watch out for this. I've received title pages that have "Your Name" instead of the student's actual name on them.

Name of Field - For example, you may be in Women's Studies and Religion, but you write down just "Religion." The degree is Doctor of Philosophy in Religion. You might think, "my degree is Urban Studies and Blah Blah Blah." Nope. It's Education. It's the school you're in. And it should be capitalized.

Just a note, if you are doing a degree in Music, the title pages are different. Music students turn in a project.

What's the deal with the abstract? How long should it be?

Abstract - You might be confused because on page 8, it says the abstract should be no more than 350 words, and later on it says 775 words. Why? I get a thousand phone calls about this!

It changed about a year and a half ago. I called and asked. 350 words...is that everything? Just text? Does it include your name? It includes everything. The title, your name, etc. It even includes the words "Abstract of the Dissertation."

The 350 word abstract goes in the Abstract Indexes. Then they take 20 pages, microfilm them, and publish them for the world.

I recommend doing the 350 words abstract and forgetting about it. If you do the 775 word abstract, they're going to truncate it anyway. When if you're working up to a great thought and -blip!-.

The abstract that you turn in at the proposal stage just goes into the CGU file. It does not get published.

On page 5 of the ProQuest handout, it has an optional copyright registration form. Do I need to copyright my dissertation?

I get this question a lot. You have to make the decision for yourself. I don't know what you'll do with your work after you leave here. If you have further questions, call UMI (the company that provides the service) and ask.

It's really copyrighted already, the date, defense. But if you have to go to court, you need a copyright. It's there for litigation reasons. It costs $65 to get the copyright. Once you have it, you can move the copyright to a publisher.

How many students opt for the copyright at CGU?

It's about 50 / 50.

What if you want your own copy of your dissertation?

The only school at CGU that allows this is Psychology. The other programs and schools do not. So if you want a bound copy, you're on your own.

Go to a book binder (there's one in Pico) to have it done. We do not have this service on campus. If we did, it would be through the library and they don't have the staff for it.

Wait...who is ProQuest again?

ProQuest - the people you send your dissertation to - It's good business for you. But you have to fill the forms out. You can opt out...but why would you?

You absolutely need this thing filled out for the dissertation to go to Ann Arbor. If I don't get it, it doesn't go on record with ProQuest.

I know when you see this packet of information, your immediate reaction is: "More reading! Legal stuff! Oh my gosh, what now?!" I sympathize.

Dissertation Submission Form
If you're going to do copyright, page 5.
Money order or cashier's check ONLY!

Wait - can't we pay by credit card or check?

$65, no credit cards, no personal checks.
Why is this? Because the whole process can take 7-8 months to clear.

Where can I get my own bound copies of my dissertation?

Bound copies of your dissertation - you can order them on the ProQuest form. It will be the size of a book. But it takes a long time. What if you want a copy of your dissertation to give as a gift to your advisor, your chair? You don't want to wait 6 months for the copy. And usually your school wants a copy too.

There are several book binders in the area, including Kater-Crafts in Pico Rivera. Any of the dissertation copies you see in the library are from there.

Go right to the source and call them. They're really nice people.

One of my committee members lives out of state. How am I going to get her signature?

As of now, I will take a fax if I have to for the Dissertation proposal signatures, but not for the dissertation. You need original signatures on the form for the dissertation.

If you have a committee member off-campus, send the form to that person first - send it overnight express. Then once it comes back to you, take it to the members of your committee that are on campus.

If you absolutely have to (for example, in the case of a committee member passing away after the form has been signed), you can have original signatures on different pages.

If I'm graduating, when do I have to start worrying about my student loans?

If you are planning on a summer degree, you should know that if you have loans, you will not be considered a student over the summer. If you're planning on a summer degree and it's July first, and you start wondering, "Why am I not getting an in-school deferment?" It's because you have to be enrolled to receive a deferment. As of May 16, your loans are going to kick in. During the summer, you're not a student, even if you're going for a September degree!

Thank you, Edris, for coming and talking to the Dissertation Workshop!

Please note, all of the handouts from today's talk are available online.

Intent to Receive a Degree form

Information Concerning the Preparation and Submission of Doctoral Dissertations (10 page packet)

Timelines / Deadlines for May 2009 degrees

ProQuest: Publishing Your Doctoral Dissertation with UMI Dissertation Publishing (14 page packet)

Lorie also noted that the AIS (Association for Information Systems) website has a page of information for doctoral students that is really helpful.


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    1. Wonderful illustrated information. I thank you about that. No doubt it will be very useful for my future projects. Would like to see some other posts on the same subject!


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