Thesis Submission Guidelines: 10 tips to avoid disaster

March 29, 2012

A bit of forward thinking can save you a huge amount of panic when it comes to thesis submission day.

Here's a quick checklist... Most may be obvious, but you only need one to go wrong to have a very bad day.

1. Double (and triple) check your thesis submission deadline

Do you have it in writing from an official source? Don't rely on what anyone tells you!

Do not assume you will be able to get an extension if you miss the deadline. If you think you will need one, apply for it early.

2. Where do you submit it?

Do you know where the office is? Also, what time does it close? You don't want to show up at 4:45 if it closed at 3:30.

3. What paperwork needs to be filled in?

Universities love bureaucracy and paperwork. And thesis deadline day is not the time to have to battle with someone because you don't have the right forms signed by the right people.

Make sure you know well in advance what paperwork needs to be completed and whose signatures you need.

4. What formatting is required?

Best to know this one early... what margin size, line spacing, typeface is required for your thesis? It's good to sort this out right from the start, so that you don't have to reformat in a panic at the end.

5. Does it need to be bound? If so, how?

There are probably very specific requirements for this. Do you know where you can get it done if your thesis needs binding?

6. How many copies?

It's usually at least 2, sometimes more

7. Do you have guaranteed access to a printer?

With enough paper and ink? Do you have a backup printer in case one breaks down or you can't get access to it?

8. Have you checked how your figures look when printed?

If you have complex figures and diagrams (especially in colour) have you checked how they look when printed? Things don't always come out the same on the printed page as on the screen. If you rely on colour images, check them on the printer you intend to use.

(See "How to design figures for a PhD thesis")

9. Check your title page.

There will be spelling mistakes in your thesis, that's inevitable... but check your title page very carefully, and get someone else to look too. It's the first thing the examiners will see, and you don't want to mis-spell your title (or even your own name!)

10. Give yourself time to compile and print

Pulling together multiple chapters from different files? Converting to PDF?

This may seem mundane, but things can go wrong when you try to create a large file (especially in Microsoft Word). Your references may become scrambled, your figures may disappear.

Compiling and printing your thesis is not always trivial. Give yourself a minimum of two days to sort any problems!

See also...

Your Final PhD Year

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