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 your draft 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?
There are no deadlines for defenses. You may defend at any time that your advisor and committee agree you are ready to defend and they are available to conduct the defense.
There are deadlines, however, to submit a final dissertation, thesis, or report and complete any formatting changes if you wish to graduate in a given semester. Current deadlines are available online.
I need to graduate this semester. What is the last day I can defend?
The Graduate School has no deadline for your defense. You may defend at any time your advisor and committee agree that you are ready to defend and they are available to meet.
After your defense, your committee will require technical and formatting changes before they will approve your final dissertation, thesis, or report. Every student and committee is different, so the Graduate School cannot predict how much time will be necessary after your defense to make the required corrections. Approximately 40% of students require 1-14 days after their defense to make the required corrections and submit their documents to the Graduate School, but the time ranges from 1 day to 3 years.
The majority of students submit their final documents at the end of the semester. Therefore, the Graduate School recommends defending at least four weeks before the deadline to submit your final document in the semester you wish to complete your degree requirements. These deadlines can be found online. This will allow two weeks for you to complete changes required by your committee, and
For example, a sample timeline for Summer 2013:
- The deadline to submit a final dissertation, thesis or report is August 12, 2013.
- Schedule your defense on or before July 15, 2013. This is not a requirement. It is only a recommendation.
- Submit your final dissertation, thesis, or report on or before July 29, 2013. This is not a requirement. It is only a recommendation.
- You will receive a review of your work on or before August 12, 2013. You will have until August 16, 2013 to make any formatting changes and will be able to complete your degree in summer without any additional fees.
Please allow two weeks for the Graduate School to review each submission of a final dissertation, thesis, or report. The majority of students require at least two submissions before their document can be accepted by the Graduate School.
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 draft of your dissertation, thesis, or report to Canvas.
See the online instructions: Dissertations and theses | reports
- A draft of your dissertation, thesis or report to your committee. The format of the draft (PDF or hard copy) is at their discretion.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Right-click or option-click the hyperlink
- Save the form on your hard drive.
- Open the file directly from Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader.
- Reconfiguring your browser to open PDF files using a compatible plug-in. Firefox users may reconfigure their browsers using the instructions below:
- Select Tools...Options from the menu bar
- Select the "Applications" tab in the pop up window
- Search for and select "Portable Document Format (PDF)" in the Content Type list
- Select "Use Adobe Acrobat (in Firefox)" as the Action
- 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. Dr. Gratz has prepared some excellent examples of paraphrasing.
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. ProQuest provides a help page about creating PDFs that you may also find useful.
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. On the Degree completion form, select "yes" for the question "Do you have any pages that are larger than 8.5 x 11 inches?" and provide the information requested.
If the map is larger than 11 x 17, the bindery can construct a pocket for you. You may either print the map yourself with the number of copies equaling the number of bound volumes you order, or the bindery can print the map for you. There are additional charges for this and the Graduate School can help determine those for you. Answer "Yes" to the question "Do you want a media pocket?" on the Degree Completion form, and provide the information requested.
I'd like to include a CD in my thesis. How do I do that?
On the Degree completion form, answer "Yes" to the question, "Do you want a media pocket?" and complete the prompts that appear. When you submit your final documents to the Graduate School, provide enough copies of the CD to place one in each bound volume you order. There is an additional charge for this, but it is a good option if there is an extensive amount of data to archive with the thesis or dissertation.
I'd like to use material created by others in my thesis or dissertation. How do I do that?
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 once a month. If no bound copies are requested, it will be available online shortly after that.
If professional binding is requested, electronic copies will not be available until after the bound copies are received and cataloged.
Why should I publish with ProQuest/UMI?
ProQuest/UMI has been publishing scholarly work for nearly 70 years. Its primary purpose is to archive graduate research and provide greater accessibility to it. Even if you make your thesis or dissertation available at the J. R. Van Pelt Library, patrons would need to search the catalog at Michigan Tech to find it. Every work published with ProQuest/UMI is accessible through the ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database, so this 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/UMI is required for PhD candidates and optional for Master's candidates.
I'm writing a report. How do guidelines for theses and dissertations affect me?
I'm having difficultly formatting my document. Can you help me?
The Graduate School has prepared several presentations on tips and tricks for document creation using Microsoft Office. All of our presentations are listed on or Professional Resources 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 Dr. Charlesworth.
Students who would like to use LaTeX may find the materials prepared by a former graduate student at Michigan Tech to be helpful.
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:
- S. Gowtham's website—includes LaTeX template and instructions
- Web-based utility to generate LaTeX expressions in graphical format
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.
Should I double space or single space my document?
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 is maintaining a list of approved editors for theses and dissertations. Contact Dr. Charlesworth 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.
- Message board post on "The PhD Forums"
A person listed on my signature page is out of town and can't sign the page. What can I do?
Each person listed on the signature page must provide their approval of the document with an original signature. Your advisor, for example, cannot sign for someone else listed on the page.
The Graduate School requires that the advisor, co-advisor (if applicable), and chair or dean of the student's program sign this page. For doctoral students enrolled in non-departmental programs, the chair or dean of the administrative home of the student will sign the page. If the missing person is a committee member, all of the committee members can be removed from the page.
If the missing person is one of the required signatures, or you wish to have all of your committee members sign this page, you must:
- Have each person listed on the signature page e-mail their approval of your thesis, report, or dissertation to the Graduate School (Debra Charlesworth for theses and dissertations or Nancy Byers Sprague for reports). This must be completed before the deadline to graduate in a given semester.
- Deliver the signature page with the original signatures to the Graduate School at a later date. Your binding order will be held until this page is delivered to the Graduate School.
When mailing the page, we recommend mailing it flat in a stiff envelope reinforced with cardboard, as this original page will be bound in the Library's archival copy of the document.
Faxes, photocopies, scans of this page, or scans of the signature are not acceptable.
How can I order additional bound copies of my dissertation, thesis, or report?
When you complete your degree, you will order bound copies of your dissertation, thesis, or report when you submit the final document and the Degree completion form.
After graduation, students may submit their PDF file to an on-demand printing service such as HF Thesis on Demand. Student who submitted their thesis or dissertation to ProQuest/UMI may also use their printing service.
I'm not on campus. How can I access campus computing?
You may need to revise your dissertation, thesis, or report while off campus. Enrolled graduate students may access campus computers while off campus. Here are the steps involved:
- Contact IT to request Remote Desktop privileges to an office computer (906-487-1111, email@example.com).
- Establish a VPN connection either through the F5 application installed on your home computer or by going to vpn.mtu.edu and clicking "get an mtu address."
- Once you are connected to the VPN you can then open up the Remote Desktop Connection application on your home computer. Enter your computer name and click connect.
- When prompted for your username and password, enter the following:
password: the password you use to login to your office computer.
You maintain access to campus computing while enrolled, and for two weeks after the end of a semester.
Remote desktop access will allow you to use office productivity software such as Microsoft Word, LaTeX, or Adobe Acrobat. If you have a personal computer, installing a trial version of Adobe Acrobat may also be a solution to allow you to make final edits on a document to complete your degree requirements.