Master's Thesis

Master's Supervision

Graduate Supervision Guidelines

Graduate supervision serves an important role in training promising scholars. Positive, respectful, professional, and productive working relationships are paramount to the success of graduate students and their advisors/supervisors. These guidelines are designed to support an environment in which such a professional working relationship can flourish.

Students and supervisors are strongly encouraged to review and discuss the “Discussion Topics to Inform Productive Supervisory Relationships Guidelines for Advisors/Supervisors and Graduate Students” document, as a way of clarifying mutual expectations and setting the foundation for a productive supervisory relationship

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Guidelines for Supervisors

The supervisor’s principal task consists of helping students realize their scholarly potential. This can only be accomplished in a relationship that offers insights born of experience, and furnishes the requisite challenges, stimulation, guidance and genuine support. The student has a right to expect expertise, accessibility and support from the supervisor. The supervisor must offer substantive and procedural assistance with the design, planning and conduct of feasible research projects, introduction to the network of scholars in the area of specialization, and support for the presentation and publication of research results. At the same time, the supervisor must ensure that the scholarly standards of the university and the discipline are met in the student’s work.

It is the responsibility of the supervisor to:

  1. Be reasonably accessible to the student for consultation and discussion of the student’s academic progress and research problems. The frequency of such meetings will vary according to the discipline involved and the stage and nature of the student’s work, but should normally occur at once a month, and never less than once each term.
  2. Give timely response to submitted written work, with constructive and concrete suggestions for improvements. This normally means within 3 weeks or as agreed upon between supervisor and student.
  3. Make satisfactory arrangements in advance with the approval of the Graduate Program Director for the supervision of the student when on leave or sabbatical, or on extended absence from the university.
  4. Convene an annual meeting of the supervisory committee, normally in the spring, to evaluate the student’s Report on Progress, and submit a copy of the completed Report to the Graduate Program Director after the meeting. Apart from highlighting the student’s academic progress thus far, the Progress Report should also clearly identify the challenges, if any, facing the student, including considerations for students with disability.
  5. In conjunction with the Graduate Program Office, ensure the student is aware of University, Faculty and program requirements and standards to which the thesis/dissertation is expected to conform.
  6. Assist the student with attempts to acquire external funding, including meeting appropriate deadlines, and to engage in scholarly development (e.g., conference presentations and publications).
  7. Offer supervision and advice appropriate to the stage of the student’s work, helping the student to establish and modify a suitable timetable for completion of the various stages of the thesis/dissertation project:
    • at the proposal stage, assist the student with selection of a suitable and manageable topic and approach;
    • at the research stage, assist the student with initial research design and subsequent modification, with alleviating current and anticipated problems, with interpretation and analysis of findings, and with bringing the project to completion;
    • at the writing stage, assist the student with appropriate and timely feedback on individual draft chapters, and with revision to the draft thesis/dissertation as an integrated whole;
    • at the oral defence stage, advise the student on preparation for the examination and assist the student to interpret and comply with any changes recommended by the examining committee.
  8. When the final draft of the thesis or dissertation is complete, ensure that all members of the committee have read the document and are agreed that it is ready to proceed to an oral defence. Suggest possible members of the examining committee to the Graduate Program Director (i.e., outside examiner, external examiner). Ensure that a master’s thesis is sent to the examining committee at least 15 business days prior to the date of the examination, and a doctoral dissertation at least 20 business days prior to the date of the examination.
  9. Appropriately acknowledge in published material the contributions of the student, including consideration of joint authorship of publications. Where the student’s research comprises a component of the supervisor’s research program, and joint publication is envisaged, it must be recognized that the responsibility for utilization of data and for publications is held jointly by the supervisor and student. Endeavour to clarify at the outset of the supervisory relationship expectations regarding the responsibility and publication credit for work initiated, designed and researched by the student, but supported financially or otherwise by the supervisor.
  10. Conform to basic principles of academic integrity and professionalism in the development of a mature and objective relationship with the student. It must be recognized that there is a power imbalance in the supervisory relationship and that any form of harassment or exploitation of students is unacceptable.
  11. Conform to the graduate program and Faculty processes in the event of a supervisory relationship which is unsatisfactory for any reason or in situations where there is a change of supervisors for any reason.
  12. Even though “each student has final responsibility for her or his academic honesty” (Senate Policy on Academic Honesty), it is incumbent on the supervisor to ensure, to the extent that it is practicable in the circumstances, the academic integrity of primary research data, and the consistency with academic integrity and practice of interpretations relating to such data.

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Guidelines for Students

By entering into a graduate program, the student has made a commitment to devoting the time and energy necessary to engage in research and writing a thesis/dissertation which constitutes a substantial and original contribution to knowledge in a field. The supervisor has a right to expect from the student ability, initiative and receptivity to feedback.

It is the responsibility of the student to:

  1. Become informed about and conform to University, Faculty and graduate program requirements and procedures for completion of the graduate degree, with regard to such matters as degree milestones, research ethics, registration and graduation requirements, thesis/dissertation style and quality standards, year-end evaluations, etc.
  2. Advise their supervisor if they are a student with disability and discuss recommended academic accommodations and possible impact, if any, on the program.
  3. Develop, in conjunction with the supervisor and supervisory committee, an intended timetable for completion of all stages of the thesis/dissertation, and work to realize that timetable, meeting appropriate deadlines.
  4. Meet regularly with the supervisor to review progress. The frequency of such meetings will vary according to the discipline involved and the stage and nature of the student’s work, but should normally occur once a month, and not less than once each term. Interact with other members of the supervisory committee as appropriate.
  5. Keep the supervisor and graduate program office informed of where the student may be contacted, and respond appropriately to all communications received.
  6. Prepare a Report on Progress for an annual meeting with the supervisory committee.
  7. Give serious consideration to and respond to the advice and feedback received from the supervisor and the supervisory committee.
  8. Recognize that the supervisor and other members of the supervisory committee may have other teaching, research and service obligations which may preclude immediate responses.
  9. Recognize that where the student’s research comprises a component of the supervisor’s research program, and joint publication is envisaged, the responsibility for utilization of data and for publications is held jointly by the supervisor and student. In such cases, the thesis/dissertation, or draft papers, together with a copy of the raw data, shall be made available to the supervisor prior to submission for publication.
  10. Conform to the graduate program and Faculty processes in the event of a supervisory relationship which is unsatisfactory for any reason or in situations where there is a change of supervisors for any reason.
  11. Conform to basic principles of academic integrity and professionalism in the development of a mature and objective relationship with the supervisor, the supervisory committee, and other scholars. The entire graduate program, including research and writing of the thesis/dissertation, shall be conducted under the strictest rules of ethics and academic honesty. As stated in the Senate Policy on Academic Honesty, “A lack of familiarity with the Senate Policy and Guidelines on Academic Honesty on the part of a student does not constitute a defence against their application.” With that in mind, it is incumbent on each student to ensure the academic integrity of his or her primary research, and of the interpretations relating to such research.

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Role of the Graduate Program Office in Graduate Supervision

The role of the Graduate Program Office (GPO) in supporting graduate student supervision is a very important one. The GPO is responsible for setting program expectations, ensuring that graduate students have a clear sense of understanding of how to successfully fulfill their degree requirements in a timely manner, and assist in resolving difficulties.

Programs differ greatly across Faculties and disciplines and therefore operate in different ways. The GPO role in supervision may include:

  • assisting students in confirming a supervisor;
  • reviewing the student’s progress from time to time and reminding students of important deadlines;
  • reviewing and approving supervisory committee composition;
  • reviewing and filing annual progress reports, with input from both supervisors and students;
  • reviewing, approving and scheduling oral defences;
  • assisting and supporting students with personal difficulties impacting their progress; and
  • participating in the resolution of any supervisor-student conflicts.

Master’s Thesis Supervisory Committees

Composition of Committee

Master’s thesis supervisory committees consist of a minimum of two faculty members appointed to the Faculty of Graduate Studies, at least one of whom must be from the program in which the student is enrolled, and who serves as the principal supervisor.

In exceptional circumstances, and with the prior approval of the Dean, one additional member may be appointed who is not a member of the Faculty of Graduate Studies. Such recommendations are to be accompanied by a brief rationale and an up-to-date curriculum vitae, which should be attached to the Supervisor & Supervisory Committee Approval Form (.pdf).

Approval Timelines

The membership of each master’s thesis supervisory committee, including the Chair, must be recommended by the appropriate Graduate Program Director for approval and appointment by the Dean of Graduate Studies no later than the second term of study (or equivalent for part-time students) or, for students in the Graduate Program in Environmental Studies, by the end of the third term of study.

Approval Process

Recommendation for membership of a master’s thesis supervisory committee is formally initiated by the graduate program director via submission of a Supervisor & Supervisory Committee Approval Form (.pdf). The Supervisor & Supervisory Committee Approval Form is to be used when recommending the establishment of a supervisory committee, to add members to an incomplete committee, and to make changes to an existing committee. Final approval of supervisory committee membership recommendations rests with the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Supervisor’s Roles and Responsibilities

A thesis supervisor (Chair of the supervisory committee) shall:

  • be reasonably accessible to the student, normally meeting once a month and never less than once each term; and,
  • ensure that a copy of the student’s thesis is sent to each member of the student’s thesis examining committee as far as possible in advance of the date of the student’s oral examination, but no later than 15 business days prior to the date set.

Supervisory Committee Roles and Responsibilities

A thesis supervisory committee shall:

  • review a student’s research proposal and recommend its approval to the appropriate Graduate Program Director and the Dean not less than three months prior to the date set for the oral examination;
  • review the student’s progress from time to time, normally every six (6) months and never less than once each year. Reports to the Graduate Program Director of unsatisfactory progress may require a student to withdraw from a program of studies or withdraw from the graduate program in which the student is enrolled;
  • meet annually with the student, normally in the spring, to evaluate the Report on Progress submitted by the student and submit a completed copy of the Report on Progress to the Graduate Program Director after the meeting; and,
  • read the thesis in a timely fashion and make a recommendation to the Graduate Program Director regarding the oral defence.

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Annual Progress Reports

It is clearly established that completion rates are enhanced and average completion/withdrawal times reduced if supervisory committees meet regularly (at least annually) with each student, usually in the spring, and carefully evaluate the student’s activities and progress, keeping in mind any delays attributable to disability related circumstances.

Master’s Programs

A thesis supervisory committee shall meet annually with the student, normally in the spring, to carefully evaluate the Report on Progress submitted by the student and submit a completed copy of the Report on Progress to the Graduate Program Director after the meeting. In accordance with program requirements and procedures, students in non-thesis program options may be required to submit a progress report to the Graduate Program Director. Reports to the Graduate Program Director of unsatisfactory progress may require a student to withdraw from a program of studies, or withdraw from the graduate program in which the student is enrolled.

Conflict Resolution

The intent of the policy is to provide guidance regarding York University’s policies, procedures and resources available to graduate students to resolve potential conflicts and problems that may arise during their program. A clear set of expectations agreed between the supervisor and student at the outset of the supervisory relationship, that is reviewed regularly, is recommended to avoid many instances of conflict. However, at times, there are situations that require further action.

Conflicts should be resolved as close to the source as possible. Students and Supervisors are encouraged to address any issues promptly and informally. The supervisor should document the discussions and keep a record of any agreements made. In the event of a conflict that resists immediate resolution, the student and/or the supervisor may approach the Graduate Program Director (GPD) for advice. The GPD is responsible for arranging informal consultation and mediation. The GPD, or the parties involved, may request advice and/or mediation assistance from the Dean’s office within their home Faculty. Students may seek support from the York University Graduate Student’s Association (YUGSA). In cases where the supervisor and the GPD are the same person, a student can seek support from the Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS).

If conflicts continue to persist, any party may seek the advice of the Faculty of Graduate Studies. When FGS becomes aware of a supervisory breakdown, an Associate Dean of FGS reaches out to the student and invites her/him to a meeting to discuss the issue. Students may enlist YUGSA to represent them at any meeting with program and/or FGS representatives.

If informal resolution is unsuccessful or inappropriate, and the GPD determines that the supervisor-student relationship is beyond repair, the GPD will attempt in good faith to work with the student to find alternative supervision within the unit, and will keep FGS apprised of these efforts. In cases where the GPD is the student’s supervisor, another member of the program executive will assume this responsibility.

If the student refuses to accept the supervision provided, or if no supervision can be secured after diligent efforts are made, then the student is not fulfilling the academic requirement of having a supervisor and, on academic grounds, will be withdrawn.

Patterns of unsatisfactory supervision may result in a review of a supervisor’s appointment to the graduate program as per the graduate program’s appointment criteria.

Conflicts related to graduate supervision may connect to, or be informed by, many university policies and procedures. Depending on the nature of the concern, other university and provincial regulations may apply. Parties to a conflict are encouraged to identify and follow the appropriate university and external policies and seek out support from university offices as those policies are applied. These policies include, but are not limited to:

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Relevant Senate Policies

FGS Policies

Other York Resources

Province of Ontario

It is essential in resolving conflict that all parties have the support they require. York University Offices that may provide support include, but are not limited to:

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Discussion Topics to Inform Productive Supervisory Relationships

Guidelines for Advisors/Supervisors and Graduate Students

Students and supervisors are strongly encouraged to review and discuss the guidelines as a way of clarifying mutual expectations and setting the foundation for a productive supervisory relationship. Please note that Discussion Topics are optional and customizable at the program and supervisory committee levels.

General Requirements

Types of Theses & Dissertations

Master’s Theses

Master’s theses submitted by students in partial fulfillment of degree requirements must embody the results of original research and must be successfully defended at oral examinations. Master’s theses shall be on a topic approved by the student’s supervisor and supervisory committee, and shall include submission and approval of a thesis proposal, including appropriate ethics review and approval, in accordance with Faculty and program requirements and procedures.

Master’s theses should demonstrate that the student is familiar with and has an acceptable understanding of the literature in the subject of the thesis; that appropriate research methods have been used; and that appropriate levels of critical analysis have been applied. The research embodied in the thesis should make some original contribution to knowledge in the field.

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Originality of a Thesis/Dissertation

By submitting a thesis or dissertation, a student is making the representation that it is entirely his or her own work and that it has been done while he or she was a graduate student at York University.

If such is not the case, then the student must indicate in a signed, written statement what part of the thesis or dissertation is solely his or her own or co-authored. If co-authored, the candidate must provide an account of its provenance. The supervisor must produce her or his own corroborative written statement.

If a thesis or dissertation is the result of collaborative work, then the nature of the collaboration and the extent of the candidate’s contribution must be described in a written statement signed by the candidate and approved in writing by the candidate’s supervisor. Where there has been collaboration with others in the collection or preparation of data, materials, or documentation included in the thesis or dissertation, then appropriate acknowledgment must be made in the thesis or dissertation.

If a thesis or dissertation – or any part thereof – has been published prior to submission of the thesis/dissertation, then the candidate must disclose this fact in a signed written statement, and the supervisor must approve in writing the inclusion of such work in the thesis or dissertation. In cases where one or more chapters of the thesis or dissertation have been previously published in a journal or book to which the author has assigned copyright, permission to include the chapter(s) in the thesis or dissertation must be obtained from the copyright holder(s). Please see the section on Copyright for more details.

A thesis or dissertation containing previously published material of which the candidate is the author and/or co-author should also contain a review of the literature that adequately explains the relationship to the literature of the work undertaken. In addition, it should contain a rationale for the study. These elements may form part of the body of the work – normally an introduction or opening chapter – that leads coherently into the publications. Furthermore, there should be a concluding chapter or section that discusses the body of the thesis or dissertation, including all previously published parts.

A false representation or failure to make a disclosure as outlined above is an academic offence and renders the thesis or dissertation ineligible for consideration of the relevant degree.

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Manuscript-based Theses & Dissertations

The general form and style of a thesis/dissertation may differ from program to program, but a thesis/dissertation should be a coherent work. This means that if a thesis/dissertation contains separate manuscripts, there needs also to be introductory and concluding chapters that explain how these separate manuscripts fit together into a unified body of research. If previously published materials are included, then it should be made clear what exactly is the student’s own work and what is the contribution of other researchers, as outlined above under Originality of a Thesis/Dissertation.

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Complex Electronic and Multimodal Theses & Dissertations

All theses and dissertations must contain a written component. Theses and dissertations may, however, include other components in addition to the written component.

A complex electronic thesis/dissertation is a work with a high reliance on slides, film or videos, electronically interactive word/image-based text on CD-ROM or the internet. For complex electronic theses/dissertations, part of the work can be produced in traditional written form, but key elements of the work depend on direct experience with or interaction with a text whose physical form may be changed as a consequence of the interaction. Students producing a multimedia thesis/dissertation should consult with the Theses Canada Portal on the Library and Archives Canada website for advice on formats supportable for preservation. However, a student may work in or submit work in an unsupported format as part of the oral exam as long as the work is readily accessible by the exam committee and the student submits a written component.

A multimodal thesis/dissertation is a work in which the key component is a performance or piece of art. For multimodal theses/dissertations, part of the work can be produced in traditional written form, but key elements of the work depend on direct experience by the exam committee with, for example, displayed artworks or theatrical productions.

For both electronic and multimodal theses/dissertations, students may wish to include supplementary files as part of their final submission (see Final Thesis/Dissertation Submission).

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Language of Theses & Dissertations

A thesis or dissertation should be written in English, but approval may be given to a written request from a student for a thesis or dissertation to be written in French or in the language of any Aboriginal/First Nations people in North America, subject to confirmation from the director of the graduate program concerned that relevant supervision and sufficient support for the completion of such written work can be provided.

For theses/dissertation written in English, either American or British spelling is acceptable provided that it is used consistently throughout.

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Style Guides

Students preparing their thesis/dissertation should follow a single style guide appropriate to their discipline. The York University Libraries provides links to various style guides for various disciplines.

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Thesis and Dissertation Proposals

Proposal Guidelines

In accordance with program requirements and procedures, all students should prepare a thesis/dissertation proposal, normally in consultation with their supervisor. Each program should have written guidelines and should communicate them to candidates, as and when appropriate.

At a minimum, the proposal should contain a brief statement in non-technical language on the purpose of the thesis/dissertation research, its relationship to existing work in the area, and the contribution which the researcher hopes to make to the advancement of knowledge in the field. In addition, the proposal includes a title, the name of the supervisor and the supervisory committee. The title should indicate as clearly as possible the area of research, but it is understood that this title may change. The recommended maximum length of a proposal is 3,500 words, but individual programs may require proposals of a greater length.

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Approval Process

Following approval of the proposal by the supervisory committee, students must submit one or more copies of the proposal to the graduate program director. After confirming that the relevant Faculty and internal program requirements have been satisfied, the program director is responsible for submitting the proposals to the Office of the Dean, Graduate Studies using the Form TD1: Thesis/Dissertation Research Submission (.pdf).

As indicated on Form TD1: Thesis/Dissertation Research Submission, submission of the proposal to the Office of the Dean, Graduate Studies, includes submission of the relevant research ethics forms and documentation. For more information, please refer to the Research Ethics section of this Handbook.

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Approval Timelines

For a master’s thesis, the supervisory committee must review the student’s research proposal and recommend its approval not less than three months prior to the date set for the oral examination.

Please note that the deadlines outlined above are the Faculty’s minimum requirements, and individual graduate programs may have more specific requirements and timelines with respect to the development, review and approval of thesis/dissertation proposals. Students should consult their program for more details. Further, the Faculty deadlines outlined above may not provide the time necessary for ethics approval, if required. More information regarding research ethics is provided below.

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Research Ethics

York University is committed to the highest standards of integrity in research. All projects involving the use of human subjects, animals, and biohazardous materials are subject to review by the appropriate University committee. York has formulated policies and procedures for the conduct of research involving all three of these areas.

As indicated on Form TD1: Thesis/Dissertation Research Submission (.pdf), submission of the thesis/dissertation proposal to the Office of the Dean, Graduate Studies for approval must include the relevant research ethics forms and documentation.

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Research Involving Human Participants

All research involving human participants is governed by the Senate Policy for the Ethics Review Process for Research Involving Human Participants. The Senate Policy stipulates that all University-based research involving human participants, whether funded or non-funded, faculty or student, scholarly, commercial or consultative, is subject to an ethics review process. The Senate Policy for the Ethics Review Process for Research Involving Human Participants and corresponding review procedures adhere to the published guidelines of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, known as the Tri-Council Policy Statement (TCPS).

Please note that in accordance with the TCPS and Senate policy, graduate students undertaking research with human participants may not begin that research until their proposal has received approval from the appropriate body. Further, prior to conducting research involving human participants, graduate students are required to complete the complete the TCPS tutorial.

Details regarding the ethics review procedures for thesis/dissertation research involving human participants is available on the Faculty of Graduate Studies research ethics webpage.

Students conducting research with human participants may be required to submit the Form TD2: Human Participants Research Protocol (.pdf). Additional forms may be required.

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Research Involving Animals, Biohazardous Materials and Other Research Situations

Further details regarding the University policies and ethics review procedures for thesis/dissertation research involving animals and biohazardous materials is available on the Office of Research Ethics webpage.

Ethics guidelines for other research situations are also available on the Office of Research Ethics webpage, including:

  • Invasive Procedures
  • Health and Safety Checklist
  • Surveys and Research in an Online Environment
  • Research Conducted by External Researchers
  • Research Conducted in Hospital Clinical Settings
  • Research in Educational Settings
  • Research Involving Minor Age Participants
  • Research with People who are Homeless

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Copyright

Ownership of Theses/Dissertations

Students hold copyright to their theses and dissertations, regardless of the method of submission. Consequently, a student is free to publish his or her thesis/dissertation following a successful oral examination. Please note that if a thesis/dissertation includes any work which is copyrighted to another party, permission may be required to publish the thesis/dissertation.

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Distribution Licenses and Confirmation of Originality

After a successful oral examination the Library and Archives Canada Thesis Non-Exclusive License (.pdf) must be submitted to the Office of the Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies. The student must also accept the terms of the York University Copyright License as part of the electronic submission of their thesis/dissertation using the Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) application.

By signing these licenses, a student is confirming that his or her thesis/dissertation is his or her original work, that his or her thesis/dissertation does not infringe any rights of others, and that he or she has the right to make the grant conferred by those copyright licenses. In addition, the student is granting a Licence to York University to make copies including electronically formatted copies, and/or distribute worldwide all or part of the thesis/dissertation, subject to the conditions outlined.

If applicable, the student should submit copies of any required copyright permissions prior to the final thesis/dissertation submission to the Office of the Dean, Graduate Studies. The student should also retain copies of all copyright permission requests and approvals.

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When to Secure Copyright Permission

The following sections provide guidance and suggestions with respect to when and how to secure copyright permission. It is, however, the responsibility of the student to confirm that if there is copyrighted material in his or her thesis/dissertation, it either complies with the “fair dealing” provisions of the Canadian Copyright Act or documented permission has been obtained to use the copyrighted material. The Office of the Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies cannot offer legal advice as to whether or not copyright permission is required.

Limit of Copyright Protection: Copyright protection applies to original, literary, musical, dramatic or artistic works in a variety of forms, including written materials, computer software, and web-based formats regardless of whether the work in question is published or not and whether someone has made it available to the public or not. This protection expires 50 years after the death of the originator, regardless of who holds copyright at that time.

Public Domain: A work that is freely available to the public is not necessarily in the public domain. For a work to be in the public domain, the originator must have specifically waived copyright to the work, or copyright must have legally expired. Work that is in the public domain can be used by anyone without copyright being violated.

Fair Dealing: A student is allowed to use copyrighted material in his or her thesis/dissertation provided it falls under the Canadian Copyright Act's definition of "fair dealing". Information on York University’s Fair Dealing Guidelines can be reviewed at York University - Copyright.

While it is required academic practice to cite sources, proper citation does not remove the obligation to obtain documented permission to use copyrighted permission that is not covered under the “fair dealing” provisions of the Canadian Copyright Act. If a thesis/dissertation includes any of the following elements, the student should seek copyright permission. (Please note that this is not an exhaustive list. If you require additional information on York’s Copyright Policy or Fair Dealing Guidelines contact the Copyright Office at copy@yorku.ca).

  • Material or parts of material written by the thesis/dissertation author which have been previously published in a journal and to which the author has assigned copyright
  • Material co-authored with another author(s) who share copyright
  • Tables, figures, and all forms of images including photos, maps, graphs, drawings, logos etc. that have been obtained from a copyrighted source, including websites, newspapers, journals, books, brochures, professors' lecture notes, etc.
  • Scripts and recordings of any performance

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How to Secure Copyright Permission

In cases where a student is not certain that his or her use of copyrighted material is covered under the "fair dealing" provisions of the Canadian Copyright Act, documented permission from the copyright holder(s) must be obtained in order to include the material in the thesis/dissertation. Since securing copyright permission may take some time, it is strongly recommended that students being this process sooner rather than later. Please note that the copyright holder must be aware of and agree to the terms of the York University Copyright License and Library and Archives Canada Thesis Non-Exclusive License.

If seeking permission from a journal, a good first step is to check the journal’s website, which may provide information with respect to copyright, including advance permission to journal authors who have signed over copyright, how to request permission, and uses that are specifically prohibited. There are also a number of websites that may be helpful in determining the copyright policies of particular journals/publishers, including Sherpa Romeo and EPrints. Some journals and publishers provide (on their website or on request) a policy statement granting copyright permission to the author of a thesis/dissertation who signed over copyright to the journal/publisher. In such cases, retain a copy of that policy statement as evidence of documented permission.

Alternatively, a student should contact the copyright holder. Sample text for a copyright permission request is included below. Although email proof of permission is acceptable, please note that an original, signed letter on the copyright holder’s letterhead is the best protection against accusations of copyright violation.

Students should provide copies of any required copyright permissions prior to submission of their final thesis/dissertation to the Graduate Milestones and Progression Coordinator in the Office of the Dean, Graduate Studies. Students should also retain copies of all copyright permission requests and approvals.

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Sample Text – Copyright Permission Request

[Date]

[Name]

[Address]

Re: Request for Permission to Use Copyrighted Material in a Thesis/Dissertation

Dear:

I am a York University student preparing my thesis/dissertation for submission as part of the requirements of my master’s/doctoral degree in [program]. The title of my [thesis/dissertation] is: […]

The reason I am writing is to ask permission to include the following material in my thesis/dissertation: [Provide standard reference information for the material, including figure/table number, if any, and page numbers. If appropriate, you can also briefly describe the manner/context in which the material will be used in thesis/dissertation.] The material will be fully cited in my thesis/dissertation.

In the interest of facilitating research by others, my thesis/dissertation will be available on the internet for reference, study and/or copy. The electronic version of my thesis/dissertation will be accessible through the York University Libraries website and catalogue, and also through various web search engines. I will be granting Library and Archives Canada a non-exclusive license to reproduce, loan, distribute, or sell single copies of my thesis by any means and in any form or format. These rights will in no way restrict republication of the material in any other form by you or by others authorized by you.

Could you please confirm in writing or by email that these arrangements meet with your approval. If you do not solely control the copyright in the material, please let me know as soon as possible. I would also appreciate any information you can provide about others to whom I should write to request permission.

If you would like to confirm permission in writing, you can do so by signing and completing the information below and returning this signed and completed letter in the enclosed self-addressed stamped envelope by [date].

If you would like to confirm permission by email, my email address is […].

Sincerely,[Your Name and Signature]

I, the undersigned, hereby represent and warrant that I have authority to grant the permission requested and do grant the permission.

Signature:
Name:

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Citations of Sources

Students must include full citations for any copyrighted material used in their thesis/dissertation regardless of source, including photos, pictures, charts, graphs and tables.

Each citation must include the copyright symbol, name of the copyright holder (who may or may not be the author), and, if applicable, a statement that the use of the material or adaptation (in the case of adapted graphics) is by permission of the copyright holder.

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Unable to Secure Copyright Permission

In cases where use of copyrighted material is not covered under the "fair dealing" provisions of the Canadian Copyright Act and a student is unable to secure permission from the copyright holder (or there is a charge for obtaining permission), the material in question must be removed from the thesis/dissertation. In its place, the student should indicate that the material has been removed because of copyright restrictions.

Depending upon the nature of the material, the student may want to include additional information. In the case of a figure or image that has been removed, a description of the missing material and a full citation of source material and where it can be found (including, if possible, a link to an online source) would be helpful to those reading the thesis/dissertation. In the case of a chapter that was previously published in a journal, an abstract of the chapter content and link to the journal website where the article can be found could be provided.

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Intellectual Property

The Faculty of Graduate Studies recognizes the mission of the university to seek, preserve, and disseminate knowledge and to conduct research in a fair, open, and morally responsible manner.

In such regard, the Faculty of Graduate Studies believes that intellectual property rights are divided among several interests, and that the rights and obligations of various claimants should be specified, fairly regulated, and that disputes arising may be mediated. All parties (students and faculty) are expected to behave in an ethically appropriate manner beyond their immediate graduate student/supervisory relationship, to encompass intellectual property rights, dissemination of research data, and in making decisions on authorship and publication of joint research.

Because of the varied cultural aspects and practices that differ among the graduate programs, each program is responsible for enacting and enforcing this policy of appropriate ethical practices on intellectual property rights, in compliance with the Faculty Policy on Intellectual Property for Graduate Programs. Programs which choose not to enact their own specific policy are bound by the Faculty Policy on Intellectual Property for Graduate Programs 

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Organization and Technical Requirements

Standard Components and Pagination

Although the form, style, sections, etc. of main body (text) of the thesis/dissertation may differ from program to program, all theses/dissertations must include the following components in the following order.

Front Matter

The front matter of the thesis/dissertation must be numbered with lower case Roman numerals. The page number should be not be included on the title page, although the title page is considered page i. Numbering must be included starting with the abstract, as page ii, and continue until the end of the front matter, as follows:

Title Page No number appears
Abstract Numbered as: ii
Dedication (optional) Numbered as: iii
Acknowledgments (optional) Numbered as: iv
Table of Contents Numbered as: v
List of Tables, if appropriate Numbered as: vi
List of Figures, if appropriate Numbered as: vii
List of Illustrations, if appropriate Numbered as: ix

Text (Main Body)

The main body of the thesis/dissertation, starting with the introduction or chapter one, must be numbered with Arabic numerals, beginning with the number 1. Each chapter of the main body must begin on a separate page. Footnotes and/or endnotes are considered part of the main body of the thesis/dissertation.

Back Matter

The back matter of the thesis/dissertation includes references (or the bibliography), as well as any appendices, glossaries, indexes, where and as applicable. The back matter must be numbered with Arabic numerals, which should follow from the last page of the main body of the thesis/dissertation.

Each appendix must be assigned an alphabetical letter and title, (e.g., Appendix A: Title). Appendices are ordered in the same sequence as they are referred to in the body of the text; that is, the appendix first mentioned in the text is assigned the letter A, the second is B, etc. Materials in the appendices that are copied from other sources must meet the same requirements as the body of the paper, for example, copies or scans from books, maps, etc., must be clear and legible, and must maintain the same margins.

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Technical Requirements

Title Page Format

A sample title page is provided below. The title page should include the following information:

  • Thesis/Dissertation Title: The title should provide a concise and meaningful description of the thesis/dissertation. It is recommended that the title include key words to make the thesis/dissertation more easily searchable. It is also recommended that formulas, Greek letters, symbols and abbreviations be avoided in the title, and that they be written out as words instead.
  • Student Name: The name on the title page must be the one under which the student is registered at York University.
  • All title pages must include the following statement: A Dissertation* submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy* [*For a master’s thesis, replace “Dissertation” with “Thesis”, and indicate the master’s degree designation (e.g. Master of Arts, Master of Science, Master of Fine Arts) in place of “Doctor of Philosophy”]
  • Program and Institution: Name of Program [e.g. English, Biology, Music], York University, Toronto, Ontario
  • Date: The month and year that the Chair of the Examining Committee confirmed successful defense of the thesis/dissertation
  • Copyright: The universal copyright symbol ©, followed by the student name (which must be the name under which the student is registered at York University) and year that the Chair of the Examining Committee confirmed successful defense of the thesis/dissertation.

The information on the title page may be centered, as long as all margins are at least 1 inch (25 mm). The font of the title page need not be the same as that used in the sample title page provided below.

Abstract Guidelines

Each thesis or dissertation must contain an abstract. The abstract is expected to give a succinct account of the thesis/dissertation so that a reader can decide whether to read the complete work.

For master’s theses, the abstract cannot exceed 150 words, while, for doctoral dissertations, the abstract cannot exceed 350 words. An abstract contains a statement of the problem, the procedure or methods used, the results and the conclusions.

The abstract should be inserted immediately following the Title Page, and should be numbered "ii".

Acknowledgements Page

An acknowledgements page may be included.

Table of Contents

The Table of Contents, List of Tables and List of Figures, where applicable, should follow the abstract (or acknowledgements, if any). Curriculum vitae, list of student-authored publications, or conference presentations do not form part of the contents of the thesis/dissertation. A truncated version of the Table of Contents should not precede each chapter.

Page Size

The document must be formatted using letter sized pages (8.5 x 11 inches).

Font

The same font type (e.g. Arial or Times New Roman) should be used throughout the thesis/dissertation, particularly the main body.

The font size of the main body of the thesis/dissertation must be a minimum of 10 points, with smaller font sizes permitted for endnotes/footnotes, graphs, formulae, appendices, etc. A font size larger than 12 points is not recommended for the main body of the thesis/dissertation.

Line Spacing

The line spacing must be at least one-and-a-half (1.5) spaces or double-spaced. Single spacing may be used for long quotations and foot/endnotes.

Margins

All margins must beat least 1 inch (25mm). Margins may be wider but not narrower than the stated requirements. For example, the first page of every chapter may have a top margin of 2.5 inches.

Running Headers

Running headers to put title, name, chapter, etc., on each page are not acceptable.

Page Number Location

All page numbers should be in a consistent location, that is either centre bottom, centre top, right top corner, or right bottom corner. They must fall at the 1 inch (25 mm) margin. There should be no blank pages or large blank spaces within the thesis or dissertation.

Diagrams and Tables

Each diagram and table should be numbered. Page numbers should appear in the same position on the page as they appear elsewhere in the body of the text. Tables may be horizontal or vertical as long as the required margins are used. Diagrams must be generated by graphic software.

Photographs and Images

All images included in the thesis or dissertation should be of high quality and sufficient resolution.

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Sample Title Page

Sample Table of Contents

Sample List of Tables

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Oral Examination

Master’s Thesis Exam Committees

Composition of Committee

A thesis examining committee shall consist of at least three voting members, including the Chair, as follows:

  1. two graduate faculty members chosen from the program and/or supervisory committee, at least one of whom must be from the supervisory committee;
  2. one graduate faculty member at arm’s length from the thesis, and normally from outside the program.

The Chair of the examining committee shall be chosen from among the voting members. Members of the student’s thesis supervisory committee may be members of the examining committee, but the principal supervisor may not serve as the Chair of the examining committee.

These are minimum requirements with respect to the composition of and quorum for thesis examining committees. Individual graduate programs may include one additional voting member on examining committees, in accordance with program requirements and procedures.

In exceptional circumstances, the Dean may approve a program director’s recommendation that a York University faculty member who is not a member of the graduate faculty serve as a member (but not the Chair) of an examining committee. Such recommendations are to be accompanied by a brief rationale and an up-to-date curriculum vitae, which may be attached to the Recommendation for Oral Examination Form (.pdf).

In addition to the voting members, the thesis examining committee may include the following ex-officio members (non-voting, unless present as one of the voting members named above): Vice-President Academic & Provost, Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies or his/her representative, Graduate Program Director.

Approval Timelines

The membership of each master’s thesis exam committee, including designation of the Chair, must be recommended by the appropriate graduate program director for approval and appointment by the Dean of Graduate Studies as soon as possible and no later than 15 business days before the date set for the oral examination.

Copies of the master’s thesis approved by the supervisory committee must be provided to the members of the examining committee no less than 15 business days before the date of the oral examination.

Approval Process

Prior to the establishment of a master’s thesis exam committee, the student’s supervisory committee must read the thesis and agree that the version read is ready to proceed to oral examination.

Following agreement by the supervisory committee that the thesis is ready to proceed to oral examination, recommendation for membership of a master’s thesis exam committee (as well as the date and location of the oral exam) is formally initiated by the graduate program director via submission of a Recommendation for Oral Examination Form (.pdf) to the Graduate Milestones and Progression Coordinator in the Office of the Dean, Graduate Studies.

Final approval of master’s thesis exam committee membership recommendations rests with the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

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Scheduling of Master’s Thesis Oral Exams

Approval of Date, Time and Location of Oral Examinations

In consultation with the student and the members of the exam committee, the graduate program director will recommend the date, time and location of an oral exam via submission of a Recommendation for Oral Examination Form (.pdf).

Oral examinations for master’s theses shall be held normally no less than 15 business days from the date on which copies of the completed thesis approved by the supervisory committee are sent to each member of the examining committee.

The student must be registered as active for the term in which the oral exam is scheduled to take place.

Number and Nature of Thesis Copies Required for an Oral Exam

Number of Copies

The number of copies of a thesis required for an oral exam depends upon the number of members on the exam committee. A thesis exam committee consists of at least three voting members, including the Chair. However, it is often the case that more than three copies of the thesis are required for an oral exam. The thesis supervisor or program director will inform the student how many copies of the thesis are required for the exam.

Nature of Copies

The student is responsible for ensuring that all members of the exam committee have an e-copy of the thesis, unless prior approval has been received for the submission of a paper copy. (If paper copies are submitted for the oral exam, the pagination and formatting of each page of the paper copies and the e-copies must match.)

For a complex electronic thesis, the student is responsible for ensuring that all members of the exam committee have an e-copy of the written component of the thesis, unless prior approval has been received for the submission of a paper copy. (If paper copies are submitted for the oral exam, the pagination and formatting of each page of the paper copies and the e-copies must match.) For the remaining component of the work, it is the student’s responsibility to ensure that the work produced for the thesis can be examined by the examining committee. Students producing a multimedia thesis should consult with the Theses Canada Portal on the Library and Archives Canada website for advice on formats supportable for preservation. However, a student may work in/submit work in an unsupported format as part of the oral exam as long as the work is readily accessible by the exam committee and the student submits a written component.

For a multimodal thesis, the student is responsible for ensuring that all members of the exam committee have an e-copy of the written component of the thesis, unless prior approval has been received for the submission of a paper copy. (If paper copies are submitted for the oral exam, the pagination and formatting of each page of the paper copies and the e-copies must match.) For the remaining component of the work, it is the student’s responsibility to make arrangements for the exam committee to view/engage in the non-written component.

Note: If an examining committee member requests a paper copy of the written component(s) of the thesis, it is the graduate program's responsibility to make arrangements once an e-copy has been provided by the student.

Final Confirmation Prior to Oral Examination

Before an oral examination can be convened, a majority of the exam committee members must agree that the thesis is examinable. The graduate program director shall poll the members of the exam committee five business days before the scheduled date for the oral. If the student does not receive a majority vote, the members of the examining committee who do not agree that the thesis is examinable are required to give their reasons in writing to the student, the supervisor, and the Dean within five business days after the poll. In such cases, the oral shall be postponed for a period not to exceed 12 months. However, the student has the right to insist that the oral proceed as planned.

Participation in Oral Exam Through Alternative Means

Members of the examining committee are normally expected to attend the oral examination in person, except where decanal permission for the use alternative technologies such as video- or teleconferencing has been granted. The rationale for this examination mode must be made by the program to the Dean. Normally, no more than one member of an examining committee should be linked to the examination process through alternative means. Only in exceptional circumstances would the supervisor, an internal York member, or the student be the off-site participant.

Rescheduling an Oral Exam

With the consent of the voting members of the examination committee, the program director and the student, the Dean may approve a recommendation that an oral examination be rescheduled due to exceptional circumstances.

Use of Audio-Visual Equipment at Oral Exams

The use of audio-visual (AV) equipment at oral exams is governed by the following principles:

  • AV equipment may be used for oral exam presentations but the Faculty of Graduate Studies is not responsible for ordering supplies or equipment (e.g., overhead projectors).
  • Audio-taping or videotaping of oral exams is not permitted.

Public Attendance at Oral Exams

The oral exam is a public academic event. Faculty members, graduate students and others may attend oral exams at the discretion of the Chair of the exam committee. They may, at the discretion of the Chair, participate in the questioning. Only members of the exam committee may be present for the evaluation and for the vote at the conclusion of an oral exam.[ Top ] 

Master’s Thesis Oral Exam Evaluation Guidelines and Reporting of Results

Evaluation Guidelines

  1. Master’s theses submitted by students in partial fulfillment of degree requirements must be successfully defended at oral examinations. The oral examination will centre on the thesis.
  2. The thesis oral examination requirement is met if one of the following two situations exists:
    1. the committee accepts the thesis with no revisions; or,
    2. the committee accepts the thesis with specified revisions.
  3. Specified revisions could range from typographical errors or changes of a minor editorial nature, to specified insertions or deletions which do not radically modify the development/argument of the thesis. The committee must specify such changes with precision. It is the responsibility of the supervisor to ensure that all such changes are made and the Chair will confirm that this is the case. Specified revisions must be completed within six months of the date of the oral examination.
  4. In cases where there is one vote for major revision, specified revisions are expected.
  5. A thesis is referred for major revision if any of the following conditions exist:
    1. the committee agrees that the thesis requires substantive changes in order to be acceptable; or,
    2. there are a minimum of two votes for major revision; or,
    3. there is one vote for failure.
  6. In cases of major revision, one of the following procedures, agreed upon by the committee before the examination is adjourned, must be used to finalize the oral results:
    1. the committee will reconvene within twelve months to continue the oral examination; or,
    2. the revised thesis will be circulated within twelve months to all members, who will inform the Chair whether they feel the stipulated requirements have been met.
  7. Detailed reasons for referring pending major revisions must be supplied in writing by the Chair to the Dean, the program director and the student within 10 business days.
  8. After an adjournment and when the major revisions have been completed, the thesis is failed if there are two or more votes for failure. A thesis cannot be referred for major revisions more than once and no further adjournment is permitted. In the event of failure, detailed reasons must be supplied in writing by the Chair to the Dean, program director and student within 10 business days.
  9. A thesis is failed if there are a minimum of two votes for failure. In the event of failure, detailed reasons must be supplied in writing by the Chair to the Dean, program director and student within 10 business days.

Reporting of Results

The results of the oral exam, as determined by the exam committee in accordance with the evaluation guidelines described above, are reported to the Office of the Dean, Graduate Studies, via the Oral Examination Report Form (.pdf). The form should be signed by the Chair of the exam committee and should include, where appropriate, details regarding any required revisions under “comments”.

In accordance with the evaluation guidelines described above, the Oral Examination Report Form requires that the committee reach one of the following four decisions:

  1. Accepted with No Revision
  2. Accepted Pending Specified Revisions
    The nature of the revisions should be agreed to by the exam committee and reported in detail on Oral Examination Report Form under “comments”. Specified revisions must be completed within six months of the date of the oral exam. It is the responsibility of the supervisor to ensure that all of the specified revisions are made and the Chair will confirm that this is the case. Approval of specified revisions should be reported to the Office of the Dean, Graduate Studies, via the Revisions Approved Memorandum (.pdf) or via email to the Graduate Milestones and Progression Coordinator .
  3. Referred Pending Major Revisions
    In cases involving a referred pending major revisions decisions, one of the following procedures, agreed upon by the committee before the examination is adjourned, must be used to finalize the oral results: a) the committee will reconvene within twelve months to continue the oral examination, or b) the revised thesis will be circulated within twelve months to all members, who will inform the Chair whether they feel the stipulated requirements have been met.
    Please note that a clear consensus must be reached by the committee as to the extent and nature of the revisions required. Detailed reasons for referring pending major revision must be supplied in writing by the Chair of the exam committee to the Dean, the program director and the candidate concerned within 10 business days.
    Approval of major revisions should be reported to the Office of the Dean, Graduate Studies, via the Revisions Approved Memorandum (.pdf) or via email to the Graduate Milestones and Progression Coordinator .
  4. Failed
    In the event of failure, detailed reasons must be supplied in writing by the Chair of the exam committee to the Dean, program director and candidate within 10 business days.

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Exam Committee Roles and Responsibilities

Graduate Program Director Roles and Responsibilities

Before an oral examination can be convened, a majority of the exam committee members must agree that the dissertation is examinable. The graduate program director shall poll the members of the exam committee five business days before the scheduled date for the oral. If the student does not receive a majority vote, the members of the examining committee who do not agree that the thesis is examinable are required to give their reasons in writing to the student, the supervisor, and the Dean within five business days after the poll. In such cases, the oral shall be postponed for a period not to exceed 12 months. However, the student has the right to insist that the oral proceed as planned.

Exam Committee Chair Roles and Responsibilities

For master’s theses, the Chair of the exam committee shall be chosen from among the voting members. Members of the student’s thesis supervisory committee may be members of the exam committee, but the principal supervisor may not serve as the Chair of the exam committee.

The Chair of the exam committee normally participates fully in the questioning of the candidate, the discussion and the vote.

In general, the role of the Chair of the exam committee is to ensure:

  • that the process of oral exam is fair and orderly,
  • that the student is truly being examined and challenged, and
  • that high standards of scholarship are met.

Prior to the formal start of the oral exam, the Chair should:

  • verify that all members of the exam committee are present. (If any member is not in attendance, the examination shall be postponed. Only under rare, exceptional and compelling circumstances can an oral examination proceed in the absence of the external examiner. Please see Role of the External Examiner below for more details.)
  • verify that the members of the exam committee are agreed that the thesis/dissertation is “examinable”. (If the thesis/dissertation is found to be unexaminable at this time, the oral exam may be postponed for a period not to exceed 12 months. However, the student has the right to insist that the oral proceed as planned.)
  • discuss with the members of the Committee the expected length of the examination, and the order in which the exam committee will question the student.

At the outset of and during the oral exam, the Chair should:

  • clarify to both the exam committee and the student the procedures to be followed,
  • determine the point at which further questioning will not produce additional useful information for the consideration of the exam committee, and
  • monitor the procedures throughout the oral exam.

After the candidate and any observers have left the room, the Chair should:

  • assess the committee’s opinion from the discussion, including whether the exam committee considers the work sufficiently outstanding to merit nomination for the Faculty of Graduate Studies Thesis/Dissertation Prize.
  • If there is no consensus, the Chair should call for a vote to determine the outcome of the oral exam. The outcome of the vote shall be governed by the master’s thesis oral exam evaluation guidelines.
  • In cases of accepted pending specified revisions, the Chair should ensure the nature of the on the Oral Examination Report Form under “comments”. A clear consensus must be reached by the committee as to the extent of the revisions required.
  • In cases of major revision, the Chair should confirm which of the following two procedures, agreed upon by the committee before the exam is adjourned, will be used to finalize the oral results:
    • the committee will reconvene within twelve months to continue the oral examination; or,
    • the revised dissertation will be circulated within twelve months to all members, who will inform the Chair whether they feel the stipulated requirements have been met.

After the exam committee has reached a decision, the Chair should:

  • recall the candidate to convey the decision, including a description of any required revisions, as appropriate, and
  • inform the program director if the thesis/dissertation has been nominated for the Faculty of Graduate Studies Thesis/Dissertation Prize, where applicable.

If the thesis/dissertation was accepted with no revisions, the Chair should:

  • ensure that a properly completed and signed Oral Examination Report Form, is returned to the Graduate Milestones and Progression Coordinator in the Office of the Dean, Graduate Studies.

If the thesis/dissertation was accepted pending specified revisions, the Chair should:

  • ensure that a properly completed (including a clear description of the required revisions) and signed Oral Examination Report Form is returned to the Graduate Milestones and Progression Coordinator in the Office of the Dean, Graduate Studies. It is the responsibility of the supervisor to ensure that all of the specified revisions are made and the Chair will confirm that this is the case. Specified revisions must be completed within six months of the date of the oral exam.
  • Approval of specified revisions should be reported to the Office of the Dean, Graduate Studies, via the Revisions Approved Memorandum Revisions Approved Memorandum (.pdf) or via email to the Graduate Milestones and Progression Coordinator .

In cases of referred pending major revisions, the Chair should:

  • ensure that a properly completed (including a clear description of the required revisions) is returned to the Graduate Milestones and Progression Coordinator in the Office of the Dean, Graduate Studies, and
  • provide detailed reasons for the exam committee’s decision in writing to the Dean, program director and student within 10 business days of the oral exam.

When major revisions have been completed satisfactorily as decided by the exam committee, the Chair should:

In cases of failure, the Chair should:

  • ensure that a properly completed and signed Oral Examination Report Form is returned to the Graduate Milestones and Progression Coordinator in the Office of the Dean, Graduate Studies, and
  • provide detailed reasons for the exam committee’s decision in writing to the Dean, program director and student within 10 business days of the oral exam.

Exam Committee Members Roles and Responsibilities

The exam committee members have the responsibility of ensuring that high standards of scholarship are met.

The “at arm’s length from the thesis/dissertation” committee member has a particular responsibility of ensuring that these high standards of scholarship are met from a perspective broader than that of the student’s own program. Such exam committee members who are appointed to the student’s program should be especially mindful of this responsibility.

External Examiner Roles and Responsibilities

Note: The following description of external examiner roles and responsibilities applies to those master’s programs that require an external or outside examiner on their exam committee.

External examiners are expected to be established academics, normally members of a graduate Faculty at another university. The assessment of the dissertation provided by the external examiner should be treated as the yardstick by which to measure the quality of the candidate’s work relative to standards at other universities. The external examiner is a voting member of the Committee and must have been at arm’s length from the dissertation. The external examiner does not have a formal power of veto, but the exam committee must have substantial reasons for not accepting an external examiner’s recommendation, especially if the recommendation is negative. The external examiner’s written comments will be provided to the other members of the exam committee prior to the oral exam and, where the exam committee deems advisable and the external examiner agrees, may be made available to the student at the end of the oral exam.

Only under rare, exceptional and compelling circumstances can an oral examination proceed in the absence of the external examiner, and only with the express permission of the Dean. In such circumstances, the following conditions must be met:

  • the external’s absence must be unplanned and unavoidable (i.e. it must have been the initial intent that the external would be present);
  • a written assessment of the dissertation must be received before the scheduled examination, including certification that the dissertation is examinable, and identification of any areas that need revision, or questioning and clarification at the oral exam. However, if the external examiner feels that the result of the examination depends upon the oral exam, then the external examiner shall be present or the oral exam will be postponed until the external examiner can be present or an alternative external examiner is appointed.

Ex-officio Committees Member Roles & Responsibilities

In addition to the voting members, the Vice-President Academic & Provost and Graduate Program Director may along with the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies or his/her representative, participate as ex-officio members (non-voting, unless present as one of the voting members) on master’s thesis exam committees.

As the oral examination is the culmination of a graduate student’s study and advances the mission of York University as a whole, the inclusion of these positions as ex-officio members of the thesis and dissertation exam committees recognizes and emphasizes the importance of the oral exam. Due to the nature of the workload of the incumbents in these positions, they are not expected to attend every oral exam. When they do attend in their capacity as ex-officio members, they are encouraged to be active participants, but they do not vote.

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Oral Exam Procedural Guidelines

  • For those master’s programs that require an external or outside examiner, the written comments provided by the external examiner will be made available to the committee prior to the oral exam.
  • At the oral exam, the student may be given the opportunity to present an oral summary of his or her work. If this procedure is followed, the Chair of the exam committee will inform the student and indicate the time available.
  • Normally, the first round of questions will refer to general aspects of the work. Subsequent questions will deal with more detailed matters. For all doctoral dissertation oral exams and for those master’s programs that require an external or outside examiner, the external examiner will normally begin each round of questioning and will be followed by the other members of the committee in an order agreed upon before the exam.
  • The Chair of the exam committee will ensure that each member of the exam committee has an equal opportunity to pose questions. After the formal rounds of questioning, general discussion and order of further questioning will be at the Chair’s discretion.
  • The question period should normally run its natural course, with members of the exam committee indicating when they are satisfied. The Chair of the exam committee will, however use his/her discretion as to the appropriate closing point. For a master’s thesis, a general guideline for the length of the oral exam is approximately 10 to 20 minutes for presentation (if applicable) and 1.5 hours for questioning. For a doctoral dissertation, a general guideline for the length of the oral exam is 20 to 40 minutes for presentation (if applicable) and 2 hours for questioning.
  • After the candidate and any observers have left the room, the exam committee will discuss the work and the oral defense of that work, the discussion beginning with the external examiner’s remarks.
  • The Chair of the exam committee will then assess the committee’s opinion from the discussion.
  • If there is no consensus, the Chair of the exam committee will call for a vote to determine the outcome of the oral exam. The outcome of the vote shall be governed by the master’s thesis oral exam evaluation guidelines and doctoral dissertation oral exam evaluation guidelines.
  • In cases of accepted pending specified revisions, the nature of the revisions will be agreed to by the exam committee and reported in detail by the Chair in the “comments” section of the Oral Examination Report Form.
  • In cases of major revision, the Chair of the exam committee will confirm which of the following two procedures, agreed upon by the committee before the exam is adjourned, will be used to finalize the oral results: a) the committee will reconvene within twelve months to continue the oral examination; or, b) the revised dissertation will be circulated within twelve months to all members, who will inform the Chair whether they feel the stipulated requirements have been met.
  • After the exam committee has reached a decision, the candidate will be recalled and informed by the Chair of the outcome of the examination. Should revisions be required, their exact nature will be transmitted to the student by the Chair.
  • The written comments of the external examiner will, with his or her permission, be provided to the student and program director.
  • The Oral Examination Report Form will properly completed (including, where appropriate, a clear description of required revisions) and signed by the Chair and returned to the Graduate Milestones and Progression Coordinator in the Office of the Dean, Graduate Studies.
    • In cases of accepted pending specified revisions, it is the responsibility of the supervisor to ensure that all of the specified revisions are made and the Chair will confirm that this is the case. Specified revisions must be completed within six months of the date of the oral examination. Approval of specified revisions should be reported to the Office of the Dean, Graduate Studies, via the Revisions Approved Memorandum (.pdf) or via email to the Graduate Milestones and Progression Coordinator .
    • In cases of referred pending major revisions or failure, the Chair will provide detailed reasons for the exam committee’s decision in writing to the Dean, program director and student within 10 business days of the oral exam. When major revisions have been completed satisfactorily as decided by the exam committee, the Chair should report approval of the major revisions to the Office of the Dean, Graduate Studies, via the Revisions Approved Memorandum (.pdf) or via email to the Graduate Milestones and Progression Coordinator .

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Final Submission

Graduation & Convocation

Following a successful oral exam (including confirmed approval of any specified revisions or major revisions), submission by the student of the final approved thesis/dissertation is a requirement for graduation and convocation.

The thesis or dissertation is submitted electronically using York University’s Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) platform. The Graduate Milestones and Progression Coordinator in the Office of the Dean, Graduate Studies, will check that the thesis/dissertation meets the Faculty’s organizational and technical requirements, and has the right to refuse any unacceptable document until it is submitted in acceptable form.

Once the submission is approved and all requirements for graduation are met, the thesis/ dissertation will be transferred to YorkSpace, York University's institutional repository of research outputs, where it will be accessible to Library and Archives Canada as well as major search engines and other repositories.

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Fees & Submission Deadlines

The degree completion date is NOT based on the date of the oral examination; it is based on the date of submission to the Office of the Dean, Graduate Studies of the acceptable final approved copy. Students are responsible for active registration and all tuition fees until the final copy is submitted to and approved by the Office of the Dean, Graduate Studies.

Submission deadlines with respect to convocation can be found under Important Dates.

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Submission Procedures and Required Forms/Documents

An ETD record will be created for each student by the Graduate Milestones and Progression Coordinator in the Office of the Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies once all of the following have been received:

  • Oral Examination Report (passed)
  • Revisions Approved Memorandum, if applicable
  • Library and Archives Canada Theses Non-Exclusive License form, signed and dated
  • Copies of copyright permissions (if applicable)

Once an ETD record is opened, the student will receive an email with instructions on how to log in and complete their submission. Students should ensure that they have followed the organization and technical requirements for theses/dissertations prior to making a submission to the Office of the Dean, Graduate Studies through the ETD platform. If, after reading the Organization & Technical Requirements section of this handbook, students have any questions concerning formatting and preparation, they should direct these questions to the Graduate Milestones and Progression Coordinator. Instructions for the use of the ETD platform are available at Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD).

By signing the Library and Archives Canada (LAC) Theses Non-Exclusive License form, the student authorizes LAC to reproduce, publish, archive, preserve, conserve, communicate to the public, loan, distribute and sell the thesis/dissertation for commercial or non-commercial purposes. Further information about the Non-Exclusive License and the Library & Archives Canada thesis program is available on the Library and Archives Canada website.

The student must also accept the terms of the York University Copyright License as part of the electronic submission of their thesis/dissertation using the Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) application.

If required, students should provide copies of any needed copyright permissions prior to the final thesis/dissertation submission. Students should also retain copies of all copyright permission requests and approvals.

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Supplementary Files

Supplementary files refer to items that are part of the approved, examined thesis/dissertation that cannot be included in the PDF thesis/dissertation, such as multi-media, sound, video or hypertext.

All supplementary files will be made available only to the York University Libraries and not to Library and Archives Canada as Library and Archives Canada does not archive these materials at this time.

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Binding

Students who wish to have personal copies of the thesis/dissertation bound must make their own arrangements.

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Delay of Publication/Restricted Access

As a publicly funded institution, York University has an obligation to ensure that research produced by its graduate students is available for the benefit of the public, particularly by making successfully defended theses and dissertations available through York University Libraries and Library and Archives Canada. With that in mind, there is normally no restriction on the publication of and access to successfully defended theses and dissertations. However, in some exceptional instances it may be detrimental to the author or sponsor of the thesis/dissertation research to have the thesis/dissertation publicly available immediately following a successful defense. Valid reasons to delay publication/restrict access to a successfully defended thesis/dissertation may include:

  • approved intellectual property contract between a research sponsor and the University that specifies a period of confidentiality;
  • that public distribution of the thesis/dissertation would invalidate a patent application;
  • that public distribution of the thesis/dissertation would invalidate a publication contract; and,
  • that public distribution of the thesis/dissertation would pose a risk to the personal safety of the author.

Prior to submission of the final version of their thesis/dissertation to the Graduate Milestones and Progression Coordinator, students may request to delay (or to extend a previously approved delay) publication of/restrict access to their thesis/dissertation for a maximum of three years. Requests for embargo must be made to the Office of the Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies, through required forms, prior to the submission of the final version of the thesis/dissertation. Requests will only be considered with the recommendation of the student’s supervisor and graduate program director. If approved, the body of the thesis/dissertation will be withheld from York University Libraries and Library and Archives Canada for the approved period. At the end of the approved period, the body of the thesis/dissertation will be released to York University Libraries and Library and Archives Canada via YorkSpace.

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How to Submit

Submitting your thesis/dissertation using York University's Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETD) application is a quick and easy process.

The instructions below outline the step by step process of using the application. Please refer to the Thesis, Dissertation and Submission Guidelines on the Faculty of Graduate Studies website for details on the policies and process leading up to the point of final submission, including formatting and other requirements. To view the York University ETD collection, visit the Faculty of Graduate Studies section on YorkSpace.

Table of Contents

  1. Getting Started
    1. Technical Requirements
    2. Technical Assistance
    3. Preliminary Steps
    4. Navigating
    5. Stopping During the Submission Process
    6. Getting Help
  2. Step by Step Instructions
    1. Beginning Your Submission
    2. Updating Details
    3. Uploading Files
    4. Reviewing Details
    5. Submitting for Review
  3. What Happens Next?
  4. Resources

Getting Started

Technical Requirements

You can access the ETD application from any computer with an internet connection. Recommended browsers include Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari or Opera.

Technical Assistance

Instructions for converting your thesis to a PDF file are available on the YorkSpace Resources Site.

Preliminary Steps: Setting up the ETD record

An ETD record will be set up for you by a staff member in the Office of the Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS). FGS will need to receive the following before you will be able to access your record:

  • Oral Examination Report (normally provided by the Dean’s representative on your Examining Committee as soon as possible following your defense);
  • Revisions Approved Memorandum, if applicable (if your thesis/dissertation was approved with specified revisions). A blank form is usually provided to you by FGS prior to your defense. You will need to ensure it is completed and returned to FGS;
  • Library and Archives Canada Theses Non–Exclusive License form (.pdf), signed and dated;
  • Copies of copyright permissions, if applicable.

Once all of the above items have been received, you will receive an email from a Graduate Milestones and Progression Coordinator  letting you know that your ETD record has been created and inviting you to log in using your Passport York ID. Click on the link provided in the email to take you to etd.library.yorku.ca.

Navigating

You’ll notice that there is a navigation bar across the top of the screen. You can click on any of the “tabs” to move back and forth through the process.

electronic thesis and dissertation navigation bar

At the bottom right of each screen there are also arrows you can click on to move on to the next step (or move back).

electronic thesis and dissertation navigation arrows

You will not lose data by moving back and forth.

Stopping During the Submission Process

You can stop and save your work at any point in the process, and resume your submission simply by logging back in. To save your work, click on the navigation arrow at the bottom right of your screen. The information you have entered will be stored until you log back in.

As long as the status of your ETD record is “Open”, you can continue to make edits, updates and changes. Only once you have clicked on “I accept and send for review” on the “Submit for Review” tab will your record be closed.

If for some reason you need to request that your submission be re-opened (for example if you notice a mistake or forgot to add something), please email a Graduate Milestones and Progression Coordinator .

Getting Help

If you’d like more information or instructions for any of the fields you are being asked to fill out, just click on the question mark icon next to the field.

electronic thesis and dissertation getting help

If you still have questions, you may wish to contact:

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Step by Step Instructions

Beginning Your Submission

On the first screen you will find welcome text, along with the title of your thesis/dissertation and some other information from your student record (such as your degree name and program).

To begin entering your details, click on the title of your thesis/dissertation. Alternatively, you can click on the “Update Details” button on the bottom right, or on the “Update Details” tab in the navigation bar.

electronic thesis and dissertation beginning your submission

Updating Details

On the second screen, “Update Details”, you’ll notice that there are some fields already filled in, and others that you will need to complete.

electronic thesis and dissertation updating details

The fields that are already filled in are automatically pulled from your Student Information System (SIS) and Graduate Event Module (GEM) records. You cannot edit these fields yourself, so if you notice an error, please contact a Graduate Milestones and Progression Coordinator at a Graduate Milestones and Progression Coordinator .

In the second section, you’ll find the following fields for you to complete:

Language:

Click on the arrow to see the drop down menu. You will be able to select English, French, or Other (a thesis or dissertation normally should be written in English, but approval may be given to write in French or the language of any Aboriginal/First Nations people in North America).

electronic thesis and dissertation choosing a language

Abstract:

Copy and paste your abstract into this field (the abstract must be provided in English regardless of the language of your thesis or dissertation). Please note the maximum number of words allowed (Master’s thesis 150 words; doctoral dissertation 350 words).

Subjects:

Click on the arrow to see the drop down menu. You must select at least one subject that best describes the overall subject of your thesis or dissertation. You have the option of selecting up to two additional secondary subjects from the other drop down menu boxes.

electronic thesis and dissertation choosing a subject

Keywords:

Enter as many terms or search phrases as you like. Please use a comma to separate each keyword or string of keywords. Tip: the more terms you provide, the more likely it is that users will find your work in their searches.

electronic thesis and dissertation choosing keywords

When you are finished updating your details, click “Save Details” on the bottom right to move to the next screen, or to save and return later to make further updates.

electronic thesis and dissertation save details

 

Uploading Files

File Format and Naming Convention

Before uploading your files, you will need to save your thesis or dissertation as a PDF file (.pdf), which must be compatible with Adobe Acrobat version 5.0 or higher

This PDF document should contain the full body of your thesis/dissertation, including:

  • title page;
  • abstract;
  • dedication (optional);
  • acknowledgements (optional);
  • table of contents;
  • list of tables, figures and illustrations (if applicable);
  • all chapters and written body of the thesis/dissertation;
  • references or bibliography;
  • all appendices.

You may upload only ONE PDF file.

Your document must be saved using the following naming convention:

Lastname_Firstname_MiddleInitial_yearofcopyright_PhDORMasters

Replace “Lastname” with your last name and “Firstname” with your first name. So, for example, if Jane Smith completed her PhD in 2014, she would save her documents as

Smith_Jane_E_2014_PhD.pdf

The “year of copyright” refers to the date that appears on the title page of your thesis/dissertation (this is the year you successfully defended).

To upload your file, simply click on the “upload primary file” button.

electronic thesis and dissertation upload primary file

A box will open giving you the option to choose a file from your computer or a disk, USB key or other source.

electronic thesis and dissertation upload browse for file

Once you have chosen the file, click on “upload.”

Supplementary Files

In addition to the PDF of your thesis or dissertation, you may have supplementary files to add. Supplementary files refer to items that are part of the approved, examined thesis/dissertation that cannot be included in the PDF, such as multi–media, sound, video or hypertext

A list of acceptable file formats includes:

  • Documents: Portable Document Format (.pdf), Text (.txt), Hypertext Markup Language (.html, .htm), Open Document Format (.odt, .odp, .ods);
  • Images: Portable Network Graphics format (.png), Tagged Image File format (.tif), JPEG (.jpg);
  • Data: Comma–separated values (.csv) or other delimited text, Extensible Markup Language (.xml);
  • Video: 8–10 bit uncompressed AVI (.avi);
  • Audio: Free Lossless Audio Codec or WAVE (.flac or .wav).

If you wish to upload a type of file that you do not see on this list, please email Digital Initiatives @ York .

Keep in mind that a supplementary file is NOT an appendix. Regular appendices can be included in the PDF document of your thesis/dissertation.

To upload your file, simply click on the "upload supplementary files“ button.

electronic thesis and dissertation upload supplementary files

A box will open giving you the option to choose a file from your computer or a disk, USB key or other source. You may upload as many files as necessary, but no single file can exceed 500 MB. If you have a file that exceeds this size, please contact a Graduate Milestones and Progression Coordinator .

electronic thesis and dissertation browse for supplementary file

Once you have chosen the file, click on “upload.” To upload more than one file, simply click on the “upload supplementary files” button as many times as necessary.

When you have finished uploading all files, click “Review Details” on the bottom right to move to the next screen, or to save and return later to make further updates.

Reviewing Details

This is an opportunity for you to do a final confirmation that all of the details are accurate and your record is complete. Please make sure that all uploaded files are attached (they will be listed at the bottom of this screen).

As always, you can use the navigation bar at the top or arrows in the bottom right corner to go back and update any information.

When you are certain that all the information is correct and complete, click on “Submit for Review” at bottom right.

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Submitting for Review

The final step in submitting your thesis or dissertation is agreeing to the York University Copyright License.

By clicking on “I Accept and Send for Review,” you are confirming that your thesis/dissertation is your original work, that your thesis/dissertation does not infringe on any rights of others and that you have the right to make the grant conferred by this copyright license. In addition, you are granting a license to York University to make copies, including electronically formatted copies, and/or distribute worldwide all or part of your thesis or dissertation, subject to the conditions outlined.

You retain copyright to your thesis/dissertation and may make it available on a personal website and pursue other sources of publication as well.

If you have questions or concerns about this license, please contact your supervisor or a Graduate Milestones and Progression Coordinator in the Faculty of Graduate Studies. You can then log back in to agree to the terms and make your submission once any queries you have are resolved.

Please carefully read this information and click on “I Accept and Send for Review” to send your thesis/dissertation to the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Congratulations! You have completed your submission.

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What Happens Next?

Once you send your thesis/dissertation for review, the status of your ETD record will change from “Open” to “Under Review” and you will not be able to make further changes. You will receive a confirmation email letting you know it is being reviewed.

If for some reason you realize you have made an error or forgotten to add something, you can email a Graduate Milestones and Progression Coordinator  to request that your record be re–opened. Please remember to include your student ID number in all correspondence

After your submission has been reviewed by a Graduate Milestones and Progression Coordinator in FGS, you will receive an email notifying you of one of two outcomes:

  1. Your submission has been approved and will be deposited in YorkSpace upon conferral of your degree; or,
  2. Your submission has formatting or other errors and has been returned to you for modification.

If your submission is returned to you for modification, your ETD record will be reopened to enable you to make the required changes and resubmit. The required changes will be outlined in the email you receive from the Graduate Milestones and Progression Coordinator. If you are asked to make changes to your PDF thesis/dissertation document, simply replace the previously uploaded file with the updated one. Make sure you click on “I Accept and Send for Review” on the “Submit for Review” tab to resubmit your thesis/dissertation to FGS.

Status

At any time you can log in to your ETD record to check on the status of your submission. Simply click on the “Check Status” tab in the navigation bar.

Deposit in YorkSpace

YorkSpace is York University’s Open Access Institutional Repository (IR). It is a platform that enables York community members to post, organize and preserve their research online in an institutional context. It showcases the scholarship of the York University community through the use of a special standards–based software platform that collects usage statistics and promotes visibility on the web.

Once your submission is approved by the Graduate Milestones and Progression Coordinator and all required forms received and fees paid, your thesis/dissertation will be deposited in YorkSpace at the time of conferral of your degree, according to the publication date listed on your ETD record (normally either November 1 or July 1).

Once the thesis/dissertation is deposited in YorkSpace, it will be available for harvesting by Library and Archives Canada (LAC) Theses Portal, other Open Archives Initiative (OAI) metadata harvesters, and major search engines such as Google Scholar. You retain copyright to your thesis/dissertation and may make it available on a personal website and pursue other sources of publication as well.

Delay of Publication/Restricted Access

As per York University’s Thesis, Dissertation and Supervision Guidelines, normally there is no restriction on the publication of and access to theses and dissertations. Accordingly, theses and dissertations are released after each convocation (November 1 and July 1).

In exceptional circumstances, students may request to restrict access to their thesis/dissertation for a maximum of three years. Please refer to the Thesis, Dissertation and Supervision Guidelines for more information.

If you have an approved delay on the publication of your thesis/dissertation, the appropriate date should appear on your ETD record. It is your responsibility to ensure that this date is correct before you submit for review

Request to Delay Publication.

Getting Bound Copies

Students who wish to have personal copies of their thesis/dissertation bound must make their own arrangements. Some options include:

Please note that you may be required to make minor formatting adjustments to your document to prepare it for binding. For example, many binders will require that the top and left margins are at least 1.5 inches.

Reimbursement of Production Costs

Graduate students who are members of CUPE 3903 (Unit 1) may submit reimbursement requests for thesis, dissertation or MRP production costs to the Office of the Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies, using the Reimbursement of Thesis/Dissertation Production Costs Form (.pdf).

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Resources

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