Guidelines for Paper-Based Thesis
PhD students may, in consultation with their Supervisor(s) and Supervisory Committee, opt for either a traditional-format or a paper-based thesis. Traditional and paper-based theses contrast mainly in terms of the “body” of the thesis—that is, the portion between the introduction and conclusion. A traditional thesis is a monograph consisting of chapters. A paper-based thesis includes an introduction and conclusion chapter, but the documents in-between are independent papers in journal-article format, rather than chapters that are not necessarily independent documents. This option is not open to MA students.
The paper-based thesis includes introductory and conclusory chapters, a certain number of chapters consisting of chapters consisting of papers in journal-article format, and a bibliography summarizing the sources cited throughout the thesis. Three to five papers is the most common, but the actual number of papers included in an individual thesis can vary at the discretion of the Supervisory Committee.
Papers should be independent documents, in journal article format, following the norms for the relevant discipline. Note that length of paper is part of these norms. Papers must be thematically related such that the contribution to knowledge emerges across the papers as a body of work. Connecting text between the papers is optional. It could be included to make the relationship between the papers more apparent, or to elaborate further when the paper length is limited by publication norms. A final bibliography for all sources cited in the thesis must be included, in addition to the references listed at the end of each paper.
The introductory chapter must outline the thesis and clearly state the background to the research, and should contain a clear statement of the research question(s). The introduction will also include a general literature review of the area(s) relevant to the thesis as a whole; where appropriate, review of literature specific only to individual papers may be deferred until the chapters containing those papers. Some overlap or redundancy between the literature review in the introductory chapter and the papers might occur.
The conclusory chapter should state clearly the contribution to knowledge represented by the thesis as a body of research, and should put forward or recap the important conclusions to be drawn from it. The conclusion must, implicitly or explicitly, demonstrate that the papers form a thematically-related body of work which represents an original contribution to the discipline or sub-discipline in which the thesis is written.
Note that FGSR also specifies a common set of formatting requirements to which all theses at the University of Alberta must conform.
2. Publication of papers prior to submission of thesis
Papers may or may not be published at the time of the Doctoral Examination. Publication or acceptance for publication of research results before presentation of the thesis in no way supersedes the evaluation of the publication by the Supervisor, the Supervisory Committee, the External Examiner for the thesis, or the Final Doctoral Examining Committee. Inclusion of published material in the thesis does not guarantee that the thesis will be found acceptable for the degree.
If a paper has been published or is being considered for publication, it is the student's responsibility to obtain copyright permission from the publisher to include the paper in the thesis. University policy requires compliance with copyright law. Should the publisher request an embargo (a maximum of two years is permitted by the University), the student must submit a written request to the department prior to submitting the final version of the thesis to FGSR. Note that it is University policy that a thesis be made freely available as soon as possible after a student's convocation. See the Graduate Program Manual 8.4.3 for further information on restricting access to a thesis.
3. Co-authored papers
Papers may be co-authored or represent collaborative work. However, the student should be the first author of all the papers and hold primary responsibility for the conceptualization of the study, analyses, interpretation, and writing. Variations on the first-author policy may be permitted in exceptional circumstances if the Supervisory Committee allows it; this permission must be given in writing, along with the rationale for the variation, to the Associate Chair of Graduate Studies for inclusion in the student’s file, and may be subject to review at the Departmental level. A description of the role of the student and the other authors in all co-authored work must be given in the Preface, as required by FGSR regulations.