Students should check on deadlines for defence, submission of theses, and the application to graduate well in advance - consult the Academic Calendar or contact the graduate administrative support staff of the academic unit.
Before you submit
It is the responsibility of the student to make all revisions and corrections of the thesis required by the Examining Committee. The research supervisor is expected to advise the student in making these changes and to verify that they have been made.
If members of the Examining Committee have withheld their signature on certification pages at the time of the oral defence, it is the responsibility of the research supervisor to ensure that they see the changes and indicate on behalf of the Examining Committee that he or she deems the changes to be complete and appropriate.
Candidates for Master’s and Ph.D. degrees, who have successfully completed their thesis oral examination and made all the revisions and corrections required by the Examining Committee, must submit the final approved version to the ETD site. Master’s project-based students may upload the complete and approved project paper, although this is not a degree requirement.
Copyright and Subsequent Use of the Thesis
The author of a thesis claims copyright on the title page by using the appropriate notation. As a condition for the award of the degree the author is required to give permission to the University Library to make the thesis available for inspection and to permit copying of the thesis in any manner, in whole or in part, for scholarly purposes only. It is understood that any copying or publication of the thesis in any manner in whole or in part for financial gain requires the permission of the author.
Students hold copyright to their thesis even when agreements have been reached with other parties regarding ownership of some parts of the research material. Careful attention must be paid to any previous agreements signed regarding ownership of research findings. Consultation with the Office of Research Services and the CGPS is recommended if there are any questions regarding patentable or commercializable material.
Students are reminded that they are required to respect standards of academic honesty and intellectual property in the case of all material used in the thesis. In order to do this, it is usually sufficient to use notes and bibliographical references. When use is made of a substantial part of a source work, it is necessary to obtain prior permission from the author. Definition of a "substantial part of a work" depends on several factors, principally the quantity and quality of the portion taken and the economic impact of the ability of the copyright owner to profit from the exploitation of the work. In some instances, copying even a short excerpt may be sufficient to constitute infringement. A policy statement on the Intellectual Property Rights of Graduate Students is currently in an advanced stage of preparation.
Remember at all times that plagiarism is a serious offence and could jeopardize an entire academic career. Plagiarism is the representation as one's own of any idea or ideas, expressions of an idea, or the work of another author.
The Oral Examination
What to expect
The Chair of the defence will invite the student to make a brief oral presentation, highlighting the major issues dealt with in the thesis, the conclusions which have been reached, and the significance of the findings. This presentation should last 10-15 minutes; it must not be more than 20 minutes and should be much shorter if the student has already given a public seminar on research results attended by the Examining Committee.
With certain restrictions to be determined by the department, the defence may be open to the public. At the conclusion of the examination, any individuals who are not members of the Examining Committee will be asked to leave.
All members of the Examining Committee are expected to ask relevant and probing questions on the methodology/contents of the thesis, and/or on the research field. Candidates should respond to questions directly, in a manner which is informed by the contents of the methodology and contents of the thesis, and as concisely as is appropriate to the question. They should not hesitate to make clarification should they have the impression that the questions asked derive from misconceptions about the research material or the literature.
At the conclusion of the examination, the student will be asked to leave the room in order to allow the Examining Committee to deliberate.
How students are judged
Students are judged on their ability to speak in an informed way about their research and to respond clearly and cogently to questions on the thesis (results and methodology) and on the thesis topic (knowledge of the academic field and related literature). Standards prevailing will be those of the discipline and the College of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.
The student will pass the Oral Examination if a majority of all members of the Examining Committee (including the research supervisor and the person chairing) vote in favour of acceptance.
An abstention is counted as a negative vote. If, however, the favourable majority does not include the External Examiner, the Dean shall refer the case, along with the External Examiner's written report, to the Graduate Academic Affairs Committee for advice and recommendation concerning action to be taken.
It may frequently happen that one or more examiner is named to withhold approval signature until certain revisions, corrections, or modifications are made. It is the responsibility of the student to make these changes. It is the responsibility of the research supervisor to provide advice and support during the revision process and to ensure that the person(s) who have withheld their signature are shown the revised copy of the thesis and asked to give approval on behalf of the Examining Committee.