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Scope of a Doctoral Dissertation


A student's doctoral dissertation is a substantial piece of scholarly writing that contains a significant contribution of new knowledge to the field of study. It presents the results and an analysis of the student's original research, and should be significant enough to be published in the refereed literature.

The dissertation must be a coherent document that provides a complete and systematic account of the student's research. It may incorporate work from submitted, accepted or published journal articles, which may or may not have co-authors.

The dissertation should reflect the student's ability to do the following:

  • Critically analyze the relevant literature
  • Use and describe in detail the appropriate methodology for the research undertaken
  • Conduct research and present findings that result in a significant and original contribution to knowledge
  • Verify knowledge claims and sources meticulously
  • Locate the work of the dissertation and its findings within the broader field or discipline
  • Communicate the research and analysis effectively

In most fields, a doctoral dissertation will range from 60,000 to 80,000 words in length, exclusive of footnotes, bibliography, and appendices. As a courtesy to examiners, if the dissertation will be over 100,000 words long the student must notify the College of Graduate Studies when the Appointment of External Examiner for Doctoral Dissertation form is submitted.

See also External Examiner's Report.

Last reviewed shim4/13/2017 2:44:57 PM