Theses and Dissertations Frequently Asked Questions

Defenses Frequently Asked Questions


How do I schedule a defense?

To schedule your defense:

  • Consult with your advisor to determine if you are ready to defend.
  • Schedule a time to conduct the defense with your advisor and committee.
  • Book a room at the appropriate time, and reserve any necessary technology.
  • Submit the Pre-defense form to the Graduate School at least two weeks before your defense date.
  • Submit the complete defense draft of your dissertation, thesis, or report to the Graduate School and your committee at least two weeks before your defense date.


What is the deadline to defend this semester?

Beginning in fall 2015, students must defend no later than Tuesday of week 12 of the semester in order to be eligible to graduate in that semester.  Defenses can be scheduled after this date, but students will complete their degree in a future semester.  Current deadlines are available online.


What do I need to submit before my defense?

At least two weeks before your defense submit:

  • The Pre-defense form to the Graduate School as a hard copy with signatures.
  • A complete defense draft of your dissertation, thesis, or report needs to be submitted to both:


Why are you requiring a draft of my thesis or dissertation when I schedule my oral defense?

The Graduate School will review your document to ensure that it meets the required submission guidelines, provide a copyright review of your document, and provide helpful suggestions for formatting. Reviewing your document prior to your oral defense will ensure that you have all of the corrections necessary to complete this degree requirement in a timely fashion after your oral defense. If you do not complete the required changes, your final document will not be approved, and there will be delays for your graduation.

Theses and Dissertations Frequently Asked Questions


The forms don't work. What should I do?

All Graduate School forms may be completed in newer versions of Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader (v9 or higher).  If you are experiencing problems try:

  1. Switching to a different browser. Currently, Internet Explorer is recommended.
    • There are known incompatibility issues with Firefox v19, Chrome, Preview (the PDF reader on a macintosh) and Linux machines.
    • Students who click on a form link and receive the message, "Please wait.... If this message is not eventually replaced by the proper contents of your document..." have an incompatible browser or plug-in.
  2. Saving the file to your hard drive and open with the newest version of Acrobat Reader rather than clicking on the link and opening in your browser.
    1. Right-click or option-click the hyperlink
    2. Save the form on your hard drive.
    3. Open the file directly from Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader.
  3. Reconfiguring your browser to open PDF files using a compatible plug-in. Firefox users may reconfigure their browsers using the instructions below:
    1. Select Tools...Options from the menu bar
    2. Select the "Applications" tab in the pop up window
    3. Search for and select "Portable Document Format (PDF)" in the Content Type list
    4. Select "Use Adobe Acrobat (in Firefox)" as the Action
    5. Press "OK"

TDR-Review is provided as a sample for your information and does not allow data entry, since the Graduate School completes and returns this form for you.


What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is when you use somebody else's words or ideas but do not give them credit. When you use any text from a document written by somebody else, you must provide a full citation for the material and write the text in your own words. This is called paraphrasing. Other acceptable methods include placing the copied material in quotations or a block quote.

A block quote is an indented section of text. It is used to indicate that a larger section of text has been copied from another source. Both quotations and block quotes require citations to indicate the source of the material. A block quote is generally appropriate when more than 100 words or eight lines of text have been used from the source material.


What is self-plagiarism?

Technically, you cannot plagiarize yourself. Plagiarism is defined as using the words of somebody else and representing them as your own. It is inappropriate, however, to simply copy and paste the methods section of a journal article and submit it to another journal. These materials have been published by another journal, and the copyright transfer agreement you or your advisor signed with them may prevent you from reusing the words in another paper.


If I have a citation for a statement in my document, is that enough?

No, it is not. A citation merely indicates the source of the material. Without quotations or a block quote, you are telling the reader that you wrote the words. If you did not paraphrase the material you cited, this is plagiarism. See "What is plagiarism?" for more information.


What is paraphrasing and how do I do it correctly?

Paraphrasing involves re-writing a sentence from someone else using your own words and way of expressing yourself. Paraphrasing includes changing the order of presenting information in addition to the words used.

English for Writing Research Papers is available electronically (see External Links) to Michigan Tech students, and Chapter 10 has many good examples of paraphrasing vs plagiarism, including some from Dr. Gratz (MTU professor Emeritus, Biology).


What are embedded fonts and why do I need them?

Embedded fonts are included in the PDF file. This allows everyone to read your document even if they don't have a copy of the font that you used in your document.


How do I embed fonts in my thesis or dissertation?

This depends on what software you are using. It is an option in your PDF converter before you create your PDF file. Once your PDF file is created, there is no way to embed the fonts in your document in Adobe Acrobat prior to version 9. If you are using Adobe Acrobat to convert your document to a PDF file, search the help for "embedding fonts" to find instructions for your version of Acrobat.

The Graduate School has instructions on how to check if your fonts are embedded and how to embed fonts using MS Word. ProQuest provides resources on preparing manuscripts for submission, which includes information on embedding fonts.


How do I check if my fonts are embedded?

For a visual explanation of this process, check out our blog.

Open the pdf of your thesis or dissertation in Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader. Go to File...Properties and select the "Fonts" tab. Next to every listed font, the text (Embedded) or (Embedded Subset) will appear if the font is embedded. For ProQuest/UMI, all fonts except "Times", "Arial/Helvetica" and "Courier" must generally be embedded.


I'd like to put a map in my thesis, or a document that is larger than 8.5 x 11. How do I do that?

If the map is larger than 8.5 x 11, but smaller than 11 x 17, see Section 3.9 in the guide.


I'd like to include supplemental files with my thesis. How do I do that?

Supplemental files may be uploaded with your document submission to ProQuest / Digital Commons.


I'd like to use material created by others in my thesis or dissertation. How do I do that?

Please see our Copyrighted Materials page and section 5.3 of the guide for assistance.


Why isn't my thesis or dissertation available electronically on the library's web page after I've submitted it?

Dissertations, theses, and reports are submitted to the Library after degrees have been awarded. If there is an embargo (see section 6.2 of the guide), that will further delay availability of your electronic document.


Why should I publish with ProQuest/UMI?

ProQuest has been publishing scholarly work for nearly 80 years. Its primary purpose is to archive graduate research and provide greater accessibility to it. Every work published with ProQuest is accessible through the ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database, which is a primary source for scholars to find graduate research. In addition, their archival services provide an off-site source for your work in the event that your work is lost from the J. R. Van Pelt Library. Publication with ProQuest is required for PhD dissertations and Master's theses.


I'm writing a report. How do guidelines for theses and dissertations affect me?

The Guide clearly describes which formatting requirements apply to reports.

To view the Guide in a checklist form, see TDR-Review.


I'm having difficultly formatting my document. Can you help me?

Please see the Formatting and Preparing page for Theses and Dissertations | Reports.

The Graduate School has prepared several presentations on tips and tricks for document creation, which are available on our Online Seminars page. The Graduate School is also writing tips and tricks on our blog in a tutorial "how-to" format. If you have a suggestion for a topic, please e-mail the Graduate School.

The Graduate School Assistance Program (GS-CAP) provides individual tutoring and group workshops.


I want to use LaTeX to format my document. Can you help me?

The Graduate School staff do not have experience using LaTeX. Since LaTeX is an open source program and has a wide community of users, we encourage users to seek assistance through other users. An alumnus of Michigan Tech, S. Gowtham, has created a web site and LaTeX templates that he has made available to the world. His resources can be found here:

See also our online seminars for more information.

The availability of these templates does not indicate Graduate School approval of them. If you do choose to use LaTeX, please understand how the language works. The Graduate School may request changes in the future that are not covered by these templates, or you may want to make your own stylistic choices. Do not use these templates as a substitute for learning the basics of LaTeX yourself. Please refer to the guide for the most up-to-date information on required formatting for dissertations, theses, and reports.


Should I double space or single space my document?

See Section 3.6 of the guide for details on all formatting requirements.


Why won't the Graduate School just give me a template for formatting my document?

A template is available for the title and approval pages.

Your professional career will involve producing proposals, papers, and other reports. The quality of these reports will reflect on your ability as a professional in your field. Learning how to format your thesis or dissertation will help you to format all types of documents in the future. Additionally, there are a number of stylistic choices about the thesis or dissertation that are up to you. The Graduate School does not want to force you to fit your thoughts and words into one style, and there is not a single style that is appropriate for all fields of study at Michigan Tech. If you have not yet published in a journal, take some time to look at the requirements for different journals in your field. You will note that none of them are the same, although most are similar. To publish your work, you will need to adapt to a wide variety of style requirements throughout your career, and this training begins with publishing your thesis or dissertation.


I need help editing my thesis. Can you help me?

The Graduate School's Communication Assistance Program (GS-CAP) offers individual tutoring and group workshops. The Graduate School also maintains a list of approved editors for theses and dissertations. Contact the Graduate School for a current listing. This is a paid service, but if you require extensive grammatical correction, it is well worth the investment.

We also encourage you to seek the guidance of the Multiliteracies Center very early if you anticipate that writing will be difficult for you. The Center can best help you if you begin the writing process with them, although they can provide walk-in assistance at any time. They can review your writing on a weekly basis and provide assistance with writing your thesis, dissertation, job search materials, oral presentation and much more. They are particularly skilled at working with students for whom English is a second language.


I just got a letter from a publisher who wants to publish my thesis or dissertation as a book. What should I do?

Before accepting any publishing offer, students should carefully read the copyright transfer agreement or publishing contract. An agreement like this is required before your work is published in any form, because a publisher cannot reprint your words without your permission. In the Graduate School, for example, students sign the Degree completion form prior to publishing a dissertation, thesis, or report. This agreement grants Michigan Tech a non-exclusive license to archive their work and allows the library to make limited photocopies under certain circumstances. Students retain all other ownership rights, except those that relate to proprietary information. The ownership of proprietary information is covered under the MTU Operating Procedures Manual in Section 11.1.

The Graduate School cannot provide legal advice about contracts, but some general guidance is that students should be focusing on peer reviewed, high quality journal publications at this stage in their career. If parts of the thesis or dissertation have already been published in journals, a book publisher may not be able to reprint the work. If the thesis or dissertation is published as a book, the student may not be able to publish parts of their thesis or dissertation in a journal at a later date.

Specifically, VDM Verlag contacts many students about publishing their thesis or dissertation as a book. From the information the Graduate School can find, VDM Verlag is a legitimate publisher. This e-mail does not appear to be a scam. The book is not peer reviewed, however, so it will not significantly enhance the student's publication record.

A Google search yielded a few sources specifically about VDM Verlag and student's experience publishing. Inclusion of these pages does not endorse any of these opinions. Students are encouraged to investigate the publisher and their publishing options independently.


How can I order bound copies of my dissertation, thesis, or report?

Students who would like to purchase a bound copy of their document may utilize the services offered by:


I'm not on campus. How can I access campus computing?

Enrolled graduate students have access to some software downloads and may access campus computers while off campus through a virtual private network (VPN).

You maintain access to campus computing and software downloads while enrolled, and for two weeks after the end of a semester. There may be periods between semesters where access is restricted. For questions regarding these services, please contact IT User Services (906-487-1111 |

Installing a trial version of Adobe Acrobat may also be a solution to allow you to make final edits on a document or complete to forms to complete your degree requirements.