The thesis is a major requirement of most graduate degree programs and must be expressed in a satisfactory literary form consistent with the discipline concerned and display a scholarly approach to the subject and a thorough knowledge of it.
The thesis must be defended in an oral thesis examination. Parts of the thesis may be prepared in a form suitable for separate publication, but overall it must comprise a coherent account of a unified research project rather than a collection of loosely connected studies. Publication or acceptance for publication of research results prior to presentation of the thesis in no way supersedes the University's judgment of the work at a thesis examination. A critical review of previous work related to the subject and a concluding summation of the contribution made in the thesis to scholarship in the chosen field must be included in the thesis.
The master's thesis should demonstrate that the candidate is capable of original and independent work; that of a doctoral student must be original and be of such value as to merit publication.
Further guidance on the specific requirements of the department/program with respect to the thesis may be obtained from the student's supervisor. Many departments/programs require their students to submit a thesis proposal for approval before the student begins work on it. A student engaged in research for a thesis must register it as a course, Master's Thesis 899 or Doctoral Thesis 999.
All graduate students working on a thesis must register for each term until they have completed the requirements for their degree program. Please note that requirements are considered complete when one electronic copy of the thesis, in PDF format revised as recommended by the Thesis Examining Committee and finally approved by the supervisor/committee, is submitted to the School of Graduate Studies, via the online "E-thesis" submission process.
Exceptions to submission of an electronic copy of the thesis will be made by the School of Graduate Studies on a case-by-case basis. If it is decided that no electronic copy can be submitted, at least one paper copy revised as recommended by the Thesis Examining Committee and finally approved by the supervisor/committee must be submitted to the School of Graduate Studies in fulfillment of degree requirements.
At the time of submission for completion of degree requirements the student may also submit up to two unbound paper copies of the thesis. The paper copy or copies will be bound by the School of Graduate Studies. The bound copy or copies will be returned to the student and to the thesis supervisor.
The thesis must conform to one of the two formats described in the document, General Forms of Theses, which may be obtained from the website of the School of Graduate Studies, http://www.queensu.ca/sgs.
Membership of all Thesis Examining Committees
Normally, with the exception of the “external” examiner on a doctoral candidate’s thesis examining committee (see below), thesis examining committees shall comprise Queen’s University faculty who are members of the School of Graduate Studies. The online calendar of the School of Graduate Studies contains the most up- to -date listing of faculty members of the School. The appointment of thesis examining committee members who are NOT members of the School must be approved in advance by the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies.
Visitors at the oral thesis examination
At the oral thesis examination, other members of the academic staff may attend but may question the candidate only at the discretion of the Chair. Only the members of the committee may be present during the preliminary and post-examination sessions. Visitors outside of the Examining Committee may attend the thesis examination with the permission of the candidate, the Head/Director of department/program/School and the Chair of the Examining Committee.
Outcome categories of the oral thesis examination
The outcome of the oral thesis examination is based on the acceptability of both the thesis and the defence of the thesis at the oral thesis examination. The purpose of the oral thesis examination is to ascertain that the student is able to adequately present and defend the thesis and its underlying assumptions, methodology, results and conclusions in a manner consistent with the degree being sought.
At the oral thesis examination the examining committee will reach one of the 3 decisions listed below and record it on the “Thesis Examination Results" form. The 3 decisions are Passed, Referred or Failed.
i. Passed A thesis is passed if it is acceptable in its present form or pending minor revisions, and its defence at the oral thesis examination was satisfactory. A thesis may be passed if no substantive changes are required. Changes in the form of corrections of typographical or grammatical errors, minor modifications to the thesis, editorial revisions to improve clarity and revisions to clarify results, findings or conclusions, or the like, may be recommended with a thesis classified as passed. A list of the required revisions must be provided by the Chair to the student and the supervisor and the completion of the revisions must be certified to the School of Graduate Studies by the thesis supervisor or other designated person.
ii. Referred A thesis is referred if it is not acceptable in its present form or pending minor revisions, but could be acceptable pending major revisions. For example, a thesis will be referred if it requires substantive changes such as rewriting a chapter, reinterpretation, reanalysis or recalculation of data or findings, or additional research in order to attain acceptable standards of coherence and integrity in argument and presentation. The committee may decide to reconvene the examining committee and hold another oral thesis examination of the revised thesis.
The examining committee may also use the referred category if it determines that the oral thesis examination itself, either separate from or in conjunction with the written thesis, is unsatisfactory. This means that the student did not adequately present and defend the thesis and its underlying assumptions, methodology, results and conclusions in a manner consistent with the degree being sought.In such cases, a second oral thesis examination must be held, and the committee must then return a decision of either “passed” or “failed".
In all cases of referral, the nature of the revisions and/or additional work, and/or the deficiencies associated with the oral thesis examination, must be specified in writing by the Chair to avoid dispute or ambiguity. When outlining the revisions and/or additional work required, and/or the holding of a second oral thesis examination, the Chair must be as specific as possible. These comments will be passed on to the candidate in a letter from the School of Graduate Studies as revisions and/or improvements that must be met for the thesis to be reconsidered.
Any outlined revisions must be certified by the Chair or delegate as having been completed satisfactorily. Usually, this certification is delegated to at least two members of the Committee. In all cases of referral, the examining committee continues to exist until it has agreed that the thesis outcome is either passed or failed.
NOTES ON THE "REFERRED" CATEGORY
1. If the committee returns two or more votes for referred it may hold another examination after the candidate has carried out further research and/or rewritten the thesis, but normally not more than one year later.
2. Candidates have up to twelve months to complete revisions to their thesis but should be encouraged to do so as soon as possible. In cases where the thesis has to be re-submitted to the examining committee, and/or a second oral thesis examination has to be held, this has to be done no later than twelve months from the date of the first oral examination.
3. A thesis that has been defended by oral thesis examination can be submitted once more only in revised form. A candidate whose thesis and/or defence of the thesis at the second oral examination, does not satisfy the examining committee on the second submission will be failed (see iii. Failed, below. See also Withdrawal on Academic Grounds).
iii Failed: Failure can occur in 2 ways:
1. A thesis is failed if the document is unacceptable to the discipline even with substantive revisions. If the committee returns two or more votes of Failed on the basis of the document, this means that the committee recommends that the student be required to withdraw on academic grounds.
2. Failure may also result from an unacceptable second oral thesis examination, where the student was manifestly unable to adequately present and defend the thesis and its underlying assumptions, methodology, results and conclusions in a manner consistent with the degree being sought. A decision of Failed on the basis of the second oral thesis examination requires agreement by the majority (more than half) of the examining committee.
The student will be notified of the result immediately by the Chair of the committee and the decision confirmed in writing by the School of Graduate Studies.
Completion of degree requirements after the oral thesis examination
The School of Graduate Studies will notify the candidate of the successful completion of the degree requirements only after submission to the School by the candidate, of one electronic copy of the thesis, in PDF format, revised as recommended by the Thesis Examining Committee and finally approved by the supervisor/committee. Submission of the electronic copy is done via the "E-thesis" process. Exceptions to submission of an electronic copy of the thesis will be made by the School of Graduate Studies on a case-by-case basis. If it is decided that no electronic copy can be submitted, at least one paper copy revised as recommended by the Thesis Examining Committee and finally approved by the supervisor/committee must be submitted to the School of Graduate Studies in fulfillment of degree requirements. Tuition fees will be charged up to and including the month of receipt of the final approved copy of the thesis.
Archiving/Binding of Theses
Archival copy of thesis: The electronic copy of the final approved thesis copy submitted to the School will ultimately become the archival copy, to be placed in the archives of Theses Canada, Library and Archives Canada, and Queen’s University archives. All format and pagination requirements must be met before the School of Graduate Studies accept the thesis in fulfillment of degree requirements.
Paper copies of thesis: At the time of submission for completion of degree requirements, the student may also submit up to two unbound paper copies of the thesis. The paper copy or copies will be bound by the School of Graduate Studies. The bound copy or copies will be returned to the student and to the thesis supervisor. Paper copies submitted for binding must be presented in order of pagination in separate envelopes.
Circulation of Theses
Any graduate student registering in a degree program at Queen's University involving research is advised that as a condition of being awarded the degree the recipient will be required to grant a license of partial copyright to the University and to the Library and Archives Canada for any thesis submitted as part of the degree program. As soon as the thesis has been accepted in fulfillment of degree requirements by the School of Graduate Studies, the thesis is also automatically placed in Queen's University digital repository, QSpace (unless a restriction has been requested; see below). QSpace is the Queen's University Research and Learning Repository. Materials deposited in QSpace are instantly and permanently accessible worldwide through the Internet.
1 This makes the thesis available for further research only. Publication for commercial purposes remains the sole right of the author.
2 If the thesis is restricted, this is to be indicated at the time of submission of the thesis to QSpace.
3 The terms and conditions of the university's licence agreements are available online as part of the "E-thesis" submission process. The student's signature is collected online. The university's licence agreement form, and all other required forms, are also available from the website of the School of Graduate Studies. Students who wish to obtain legal advice concerning their subsequent rights are advised to do so prior to signing the agreements. Signing of the licence agreements is normally done after the content of the thesis has been delineated and the importance of copyright and/or patents is fully understood.
Restriction of Thesis
If, at the time of submitting the thesis for completion of degree requirements, the student elects to protect any rights to commercial publication, or to obtain a patent which may arise from the research, or as a result of any contract made with a third party, or for any other reason, the student must indicate that the thesis is to be restricted as part of the submission process on QSpace. This will restrict the archival copy of the thesis from placement in QSpace, Library and Archives Canada, and Proquest, and will restrict copies of the thesis submitted to the School of Graduate Studies from binding, microfilming or deposit in any library.
The duration of the restriction shall be five (5) years, with immediate and automatic release to QSpace, Library and Archives Canada, and Proquest, at the end of the restriction period. Students may release their thesis from restriction earlier than 5 years by informing the School of Graduate Studies that the restriction may be lifted.
NOTES 1 The author’s name, thesis title and thesis abstract (also known as the thesis metadata) shall be available for all restricted theses through the usual online databases throughout the duration of the restriction. Under extraordinary circumstances, a student may contact the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies to request restriction of the metadata information for the duration of the thesis restriction.
2 It is recognized that the student has the right to withhold the thesis by deferring the thesis examination.
Absence of ExaminersIn the event that a faculty member of an Examination Committee cannot attend the Oral Thesis Examination in person owing to illness or other unexpected absence, one of the following alternate arrangements should be made by the department/program Head/Program Director, or the Graduate Coordinator, or other delegated department/program faculty member:
- Determine if another faculty member can serve on the committee and attend the oral thesis examination at the scheduled meeting time (in the case of the Chair, any internal department/program member, or the internal-external).
- Determine if the examiner who cannot attend in person could participate in the oral thesis examination via teleconference or videoconference or other interactive process (e.g. SkypeTM). If so, these arrangements must be made by the Department/ Program.
- If the above two alternative modes of participation are not possible by the examiner, a comprehensive report including questions for the candidate and an indication of which outcome category the examiner would place the thesis in must be provided by that examiner to the Chairperson. The Chairperson will ask another member of the committee to read the report and pose the questions at the oral examination on the missing examiner’s behalf.
For a Master’s oral thesis examination, one of these appropriate steps can almost always be implemented entirely by the department/program. There may be cases where additional constraints may require the approval of the School of Graduate Studies (SGS), such as, if it is proposed that a faculty member who is not also a member of the SGS serve on the committee so that the examination may proceed as scheduled. For a Doctoral oral thesis examination, any changes to the committee structure or timing of the exam must be approved by the SGS.
In the case where none of these alternatives work, or if more than one member of the examination committee is cannot attend due to illness or other unexpected absence or if the student cannot attend due to illness or other unexpected absence, the oral thesis examination must be rescheduled. The examination must be rescheduled without delay and must be held as soon as possible.