The doctoral candidate must present a dissertation showing the planning, conduct, and results of original research and/or scholarly creativity. The purpose of the dissertation is to encourage and ensure the development of broad intellectual capabilities and to demonstrate an intensive focus on a problem or research area. The dissertation itself should be an evident product of the candidate’s growth and attainment of the ability to identify significant problems; organize, analyze, and communicate scholarly results; and bring to bear on an area of scholarly or scientific interest a variety of research skills and scholarly or creative processes. The dissertation must show some original accomplishment, but it should also demonstrate without doubt the candidate’s potential to make future contributions to knowledge and understanding.
The dissertation is to be a coherent scholarly work, not a collage of separate, distinct pieces. Its unity of theme and treatment may still accommodate several subtopics by demonstrating their relationships and interactions. If previously published material by other authors is included in the dissertation, it must be quoted and documented. Final acceptance of the dissertation is subject to the approval of the dissertation committee. It should be noted that prior publication does not guarantee acceptance of the dissertation by the dissertation committee. The dissertation—or one or more substantial portions of it, often rewritten—is expected to be publishable and, indeed, to be published (see Submission and Publication section below).
Both the dissertation research and the dissertation itself are to be completed under the guidance and direction of the committee appointed as described in the Doctoral Student Oral Exam Committee Composition policy located here. Instructions about the proper form of the dissertation may be obtained from the KU Graduate Studies website here, or from the graduate division of each school/college. Candidates and faculty members are reminded that the dissertation is to be a coherent, logically organized scholarly document. Because the demands and practices of different disciplines are varied, the format is somewhat flexibly described, and moderate departures from the norm are allowed when justified by the nature of the work or the circumstances of presentation. Any substantial divergences must be approved in advance as prescribed by the instructions, and candidates and faculty members are urged to seek early approval to avoid last-minute disappointments over unacceptable format or reproduction.
Submission and Publication:
When the candidate has passed the final oral examination and the members of the dissertation committee have signed the dissertation, a title page and acceptance page with original signatures are to be delivered to the Graduate Affairs office of the school/college in which the student’s program resides so that completion of degree requirements may be officially certified. As a requirement of graduation, the candidate must arrange publication of the dissertation and payment of all applicable fees, through the electronic submission process found here.
Dissertations will be made available through UMI/Proquest and KU ScholarWorks, unless there is an embargo in place or special circumstances pertain as outlined in the KU Embargo policy.
The student must be the author of the dissertation, and every publication deriving from it must indicate that authorship. Practices vary among disciplines —and even among scholars in a given field— as to whether the mentor’s name may appear as a co-author, and whether as senior or junior co-author, on subsequent publication of the dissertation (usually revised), or on articles prepared from it. It is expected that clear understandings in individual cases will be established during the apprenticeship period, when ethical practices in publication are addressed within the professional development training of the program.
It is the student’s responsibility to edit and prepare a final manuscript that meets the style requirements of both the Office of Graduate Education and his or her graduate program. The Style and Policy Manual for Theses and Dissertations provides general guidelines on the physical format of the manuscript.
Office of Graduate Education Requirements
The margin settings and the title page of the thesis or dissertation MUST conform to requirements of the Office of Graduate Education. Students who submit pages that do not meet these specific requirements or that contain spelling errors will be asked to reformat the pages.
The Office of Graduate Education requires standardized margins on every page of the manuscript. All margins must be 1 inch from the edge of the page. The entire content on the page, including page numbers, must fall WITHIN the margins specified. The page number must be located at the bottom center of the page.
Please pay special attention to the following features on the title page:
- Use of Kahako- and Okina — Include a Kahako- over the first “a” in “Mānoa” and an okina before the last “i” in “Hawai‘i.” The okina is NOT an apostrophe. To insert the “okina,” use the command “Insert > Symbols” or “Insert > Special Characters” in your word processing program.
- Official Degree Name — Indicate your degree and graduate program (e.g., Master of Science in Zoology). Use only the official degree name from the list of Board of Regents approved degree titles. No other titles will be accepted for a dissertation or thesis title page. Certain graduate programs offer specializations in which students receive their degree. In general, specializations are not included on the title page. Below is a list of specializations that may be included, with permission of the graduate program:
Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology
Chinese, Japanese or Korean
To include the specialization, follow the examples below:
Botany (Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology)
Zoology (Marine Biology)
East Asian Languages and Literatures (Chinese)
Biomedical Sciences (Tropical Medicine)
- Date of Graduation — Indicate the month and year of graduation (December, May, or August). Do not separate the month and year of graduation with a comma. Do not use the date you completed or submitted the thesis/dissertation.
- Names of Committee Members — List the names of the committee members. Customarily, the name of the university representative is given last.
- Use of Titles — Do not include titles such as Dr. or PhD for committee members or for yourself. However, the chair should be designated by the word “chairperson.”
Graduate Program Requirements
For the rest of the manuscript, it is at the discretion of the graduate programs to require or suggest their own professionally acceptable style. Students are advised to consult with their committee chair regarding an acceptable style and familiarize themselves thoroughly with it, before they begin to prepare their manuscript. In general, the style should conform to the major professional or scientific journals in the student’s discipline. For certain disciplines, suitable style manuals are readily available and may be used. Graduate programs in disciplines where no style manual exists may wish to develop their own.