8.4 Thesis Requirements


8.4.1 Regulations and Outline of Responsibilities

8.4.2 Policy on Public Access to Thesis Results

8.4.3 Restricting Access to the Publication of a Thesis

8.4.1 Regulations and Outline of Responsibilities

All students in a thesis degree program must present and defend a thesis embodying the results of their research. The topic of the master's and doctoral thesis must have been approved by the student’s supervisor and supervisory committee respectively.

Departments may set specific requirements for student theses, including requirements pertaining to traditional format theses, paper-based theses (e.g. theses consisting of published, accepted or submitted papers), and mixed format theses (combining the traditional format and the paper-based format). Clarity is recommended in setting departmental requirements to avoid disputes later.

For students in a master’s degree program, the thesis, at a minimum, should reveal that the student is able to work in a scholarly manner and is acquainted with the principal works published on the subject of the thesis. As far as possible, it should be an original contribution.

A doctoral thesis, at a minimum, must embody the results of original investigations and analyses and be of such quality as to merit publication, meeting the standards of reputable scholarly publications. It must constitute a substantial contribution to the knowledge in the student's field of study.

The thesis should normally be written in English. In some departments, students may be permitted to write their thesis in a language other than English, provided that language has been approved for use by the supervisory committee, the department, and the Dean of the department’s Faculty. Theses written in a language other than English must have two abstracts, one in the language of the thesis, and the other in English.

Students are responsible for following the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research (FGSR) Minimum Thesis Formatting Requirements found at https://uofa.ualberta.ca/graduate-studies/current-students/academic-requirements/thesis-requirement-and-preparation#Step 1: Format Thesis. It is the responsibility of both the student and the supervisor(s) to be aware of any specific requirements of the student's department with respect to the student’s thesis.

(FGSR Council, November 25, 2015)


8.4.2 Policy on Public Access to Thesis Results

A thesis will be made freely available to the public as soon as possible after a student’s convocation. It is the responsibility of the supervisor and the supervisory committee to inform the student of the University’s policy on public access to thesis results and to explore with the student the possible ramifications of his or her research, at the outset of the thesis project. In principle, graduate students should not undertake, nor supervisors involve students, in research for a thesis when the thesis project is part of a contract which prohibits public access to a thesis.

8.4.3 Restricting Access to the Publication of a Thesis

It is University policy that a thesis be made freely available to the public as soon as possible after a student's convocation. A general policy of “open access” is also embraced by Tri-Council and other funding agencies. However, it is recognized that circumstances may arise that justify restricting access to a thesis for a specified period of time initially up to a maximum of one year (also known as an embargo period). The student’s department has been delegated the authority to receive and approve a request for restricting access to a thesis for up to two years.

The likely circumstances for restricting access to a thesis include:

• Contractual, where a contract with a company, funding agency or sponsor requires that the research conducted for the thesis must remain confidential for a specified period of time;

• Patent Pending, where a patent application has been lodged by the student, or by another on the student’s behalf, relating to a discovery or novel method in a thesis;

• Publication Pending, where a student has a contract with a publisher indicating that the publisher regards the electronic availability of a thesis as a prior publication and will reject any work based on a publicly available thesis, or for a student who has not yet obtained a publishing contract, where a student can show that the practice of the likely publishers in his or her discipline is to consider the electronic availability of a thesis as a prior publication; and

• Ethical Confidentiality, where a thesis requires an embargo period in order for additional steps to be taken to remove information from the thesis where electronic access to the thesis in a university repository without amendment could endanger the physical or mental health or the safety of people.

• Losing originality of research dissemination.

Students wanting to restrict public access to their theses for a temporary period of time must submit a written request with supporting documentation to their department. If approved by the department, the form request must be submitted to the FGSR for processing at the time of submission of the thesis to FGSR.

At the end of an approved embargo period, the thesis will become accessible. An accessible thesis can be located by a Google search or other internet search engine. It is a student’s responsibility to contact the Dean of FGSR if there are any extenuating circumstances that warrant an extension to the original embargo period.

University policy requires compliance with copyright law.