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Dissertation Guidelines

Ph.D. candidates at Brown must file their dissertations electronically. Brown's electronic theses and dissertation (ETD) system was developed by the Graduate School and the University Library and launched in 2008. The system is designed to collect and archive final dissertation as a text-based PDF file. Electronic dissertations submitted through the ETD will appear in the Library's discovery service and in the Brown digital repository.

In the spirit of the dissemination of new knowledge that is a hallmark of higher education, dissertations will be subject to web searches and unrestricted downloads unless the student requests to opt out that system and have their dissertation unavailable for download outside of the Brown community. A request to restrict download access to a dissertation has an initial two-year window from the time the degree is conferred. Guidelines associated with restricted dissertation access are:

  • The full text version of the dissertation will be available for download only to members of the Brown community.
  • Web searches including the citation and abstract of restricted dissertations will continue to be available to the general public.
  • After two years the restriction will elapse.
  • Restrictions on full text download may be renewed for two-year periods up to a total of ten years from the date of degree conferral. Requests for additional two-year restrictions should be made to the Graduate School.
  • Any requests to extend the restriction beyond ten years must go to the Graduate Council for approval.
  • In cases where the dissertation is a co-worked piece and there is disagreement between the student and the advisor over whether the dissertation will or will not be available for download outside of the Brown community, the dispute will be brought before the Graduate Council for resolution.

To complete the electronic submission process, doctoral candidates must have successfully defended their dissertation and had it approved by their committee. To use the ETD system, doctoral candidates must possess a valid username and password for accessing Brown’s computer network. If you are unable to create an account in the system, please contact ETD@brown.edu for assistance.

DEADLINES 
The last day that a doctoral dissertation and all of the associated forms and documents related to the completion of a Ph.D. may be submitted to the Graduate School is the first business day in May. See Submission of the Final Copy for important clarifications regarding the final submission process.

Brown has one graduation per year; Commencement exercises and the conferral of all degrees takes place on on the Sunday before Memorial Day. However, if a doctoral student completes all of the requirements for the PhD during semester I, the tuition and fees for semester II will not be charged (even though the degree itself will not be formally conferred until the end of semester II). Students must file before the first day of classes in semester II in order to avoid being charged the tuition and fees for semester II.

THE FINAL EXAMINATION OR DEFENSE 
The final examination or defense must be scheduled by the candidate at the convenience of the readers. At least two weeks prior to the final examination or defense, candidates must provide the department manager with the appropriate dissertation defense information so the dissertation defense information form can be completed and returned to the Graduate School.

NOTE: Requests for waiving the final examination must be endorsed by the dissertation director as well as the director of graduate study or department chair.

AFTER THE DEFENSE
The formal, final approval of all dissertations is handled by the Graduate School's Academic Manager (Barbara Bennett). Candidates must submit final copies of their dissertations electronically.

THE MANUSCRIPT

The Signature Page 
All Ph.D. candidates are required to submit two paper copies of their signature page, both on archival-quality paper, to the Graduate School. Samples are available online. Both signature pages should bear the original signatures (not copies) of the dissertation director and all readers. Signatures should be in either black or blue ink. Please type the names of the director and readers under the lines which are to be signed. (Candidates who want an original signature page signed by the Dean of the Graduate School must include a third signature page.)

Type and spacing 
Standard typefaces set to print at 10-, 11-, or 12-point font are acceptable. All text should be double-spaced, except for block quotations, captions, long headings, and footnotes. All these should be single-spaced with a blank line between items.

Margins 
The following margins should be observed: the margin on the left should be 1.5 inches wide. The top, bottom and right-hand margins should be 1 inch wide.

Page Numbers 
Each page, including blank ones, must have a number. The number should not appear on the title page or the copyright page but, these pages are assigned numbers and are included in the pagination. Preliminary pages are numbered with lower case roman numerals, centered at the foot of the page, three-fourths of an inch from the bottom edge. The title page counts as page i but the number does not appear on the page. The remainder of the dissertation is numbered with Arabic numerals beginning with 1.

Format 
Most dissertations consist of preliminary pages which are numbered using Roman numerals, and the dissertation proper which is numbered using Arabic numerals. The preliminary pages must appear in the following order:

  1. Title Page (do not number)
  2. Copyright Page (do not number)
  3. Signature Page (iii)
  4. Curriculum Vitae* (iv)
  5. Preface and Acknowledgments (v)
  6. Table of Contents (vi)
  7. List of Tables vii List of Illustrations (viii)

Should any element of the preliminary pages be longer than one page, number the pages consecutively. The preliminary pages should appear in this order but not necessarily with the page numbers shown above.

The dissertation proper (including introduction, main body of the text, illustrations, appendices, and bibliography) is numbered using arabic numerals. The numbering begins with "1" and runs consecutively to the end.

Do not place headers on each page. Use them only as appropriate to indicate major sections of the thesis (e.g., INTRODUCTION, CHAPTER 1, BIBLIOGRAPHY). They should be centered and placed two inches from the top of the paper in uppercase type.

* The curriculum vitae is a statement giving a short biography of the candidate, including date and place of birth, institutions attended, degrees and honors, titles of publications, teaching or professional experience, and other pertinent information.

Graphs, Drawings, and Photographs 
Graphs may be put on cross-section pages but the margins specified above should be preserved.

Dating the Dissertation 
Because degrees are conferred only once during the calendar year (at the end of the academic year), the title page and abstract of a dissertation completed at any point during the academic year must be dated the following May. For example, if you complete your dissertation in August of 2010, the date on your submission should be May 2011.

The Abstract
The dissertation must be accompanied by an abstract which will be published in Dissertation Abstracts International. The abstract should, in a concise manner, present the problem of the dissertation, discuss the materials and procedure or methods used, and state the results or conclusions. Mathematical formulas, diagrams, and other illustrative materials should be avoided. The abstract should not be part of the dissertation itself nor should it be included in the table of contents. The abstract should be presented in two unnumbered loose copies. It should be headed as follows:

Abstract of (TITLE OF DISSERTATION), by (AUTHOR'S NAME), Ph.D., Brown University, May (YEAR IN WHICH DEGREE IS TO BE AWARDED).

The abstract should be prepared carefully since it will be published without editing or revision. The abstract should be double-spaced and may not exceed 350 words (maximum 2,450 typewritten characters — including spaces and punctuation — about 70 characters per line with a maximum of 35 lines). If the 350-word limit is exceeded, University Microfilms will simply cut off the abstract at this point.

SUBMISSION OF THE FINAL COPY
When the dissertation is presented to the Graduate School electronically, it must be in final form. Dissertations may require revision after their original presentation if it is determined by the Graduate School that the dissertation does not conform to the standards articulated above. The need for such revisions is not grounds for a deadline extension. If a dissertation is determined to be defective after the deadline, the Graduate School may refuse to confer a student's degree. Doctoral candidates are encouraged to submit their dissertations early, and to send questions not answered by the descriptions above, to ETD@brown.edu.

ALL completing doctoral candidates are required to submit paper copies of the documents listed below. The dissertation will not be accepted and the candidate's degree will not be conferred if an item from this list is missing or incomplete. The online submission system will send notifications when each document has been received and approved by the Graduate School.

  1. A receipt from the Bursar indicating that all outstanding debts, the $50 dissertation fee, and the $150 filing fee (if applicable) have been paid.
  2. Ph.D. Exit Survey, Brown University Graduate School
  3. Survey of Earned Doctorates, National Research Council
  4. Two extra copies of the title page
  5. One loose and unnumbered copy of the abstract

PUBLISHING THE DISSERTATION
It is University policy that all research done at the University under its sponsorship must be freely published without restriction. Since 1954, the Graduate School has required that dissertations be published. In 1985, the Graduate Council reaffirmed that decision and approved the following policy:

"All Ph.D. dissertations and Master's theses will be open documents. The Graduate Council will not recommend the awarding of the Ph.D. or Master's degree until the dissertation or thesis is submitted to the Graduate School and accorded unlimited distribution status."

Exceptions to this requirement will be made only if there is a letter from a publisher stating that the dissertation will be published within one year after the degree is awarded and that requests that circulation of the dissertation be withheld for twelve months after the degree is conferred. Six months will be allowed for the clearing of a patent.

If you have a question about temporarily removing your dissertation from the Library's digital repository, please contact Jean Rainwater (University Library, Integrated Technology Services).

THE DIPLOMA
The Office of the Registrar's Application to Graduate provides the candidate with an opportunity to indicate how the diploma name should appear. Otherwise, the name that will appear on the diploma and in the Commencement program, and under which the Library will catalog the dissertation, is the name under which the candidate is officially registered. Any request for a change of registered name should be addressed to the Office of the Registrar and accompanied by legal proof (marriage certificate or court order).

CERTIFICATE OF COMPLETION
If all academic requirements for the degree and all financial obligations have been met before April 1, the Office of the Registrar will issue a certificate of completion within three weeks of the candidate's request.

If you have any questions regarding the submission of your dissertation or thesis, please contact the Graduate School's Academic Manager, Barbara Bennett, 863-2843, ETD@brown.edu.