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Doctoral Dissertation


This policy describes the requirements and submission process for a doctoral dissertation.

Applies to: 

Graduate students on the Lawrence and Edwards campuses

Policy Statement: 

The doctoral candidate must present a dissertation showing the planning, conduct, and results of original research and/or scholarly creativity. The purpose of the dissertation is to encourage and ensure the development of broad intellectual capabilities and to demonstrate an intensive focus on a problem or research area. The dissertation itself should be an evident product of the candidate’s growth and attainment of the ability to identify significant problems; organize, analyze, and communicate scholarly results; and bring to bear on an area of scholarly or scientific interest a variety of research skills and scholarly or creative processes. The dissertation must show some original accomplishment, but it should also demonstrate without doubt the candidate’s potential to make future contributions to knowledge and understanding.

The dissertation is to be a coherent scholarly work, not a collage of separate, distinct pieces. Its unity of theme and treatment may still accommodate several subtopics by demonstrating their relationships and interactions. If previously published material by other authors is included in the dissertation, it must be quoted and documented. Final acceptance of the dissertation is subject to the approval of the dissertation committee. It should be noted that prior publication does not guarantee acceptance of the dissertation by the dissertation committee. The dissertation—or one or more substantial portions of it, often rewritten—is expected to be publishable and, indeed, to be published (see Submission and Publication section below).

Both the dissertation research and the dissertation itself are to be completed under the guidance and direction of the committee appointed as described in the Doctoral Student Oral Exam Committee Composition policy located here. Instructions about the proper form of the dissertation may be obtained from the KU Graduate Studies website here, or from the graduate division of each school/college. Candidates and faculty members are reminded that the dissertation is to be a coherent, logically organized scholarly document. Because the demands and practices of different disciplines are varied, the format is somewhat flexibly described, and moderate departures from the norm are allowed when justified by the nature of the work or the circumstances of presentation. Any substantial divergences must be approved in advance as prescribed by the instructions, and candidates and faculty members are urged to seek early approval to avoid last-minute disappointments over unacceptable format or reproduction.

Submission and Publication:

When the candidate has passed the final oral examination and the members of the dissertation committee have signed the dissertation, a title page and acceptance page with original signatures are to be delivered to the Graduate Affairs office of the school/college in which the student’s program resides so that completion of degree requirements may be officially certified. As a requirement of graduation, the candidate must arrange publication of the dissertation and payment of all applicable fees, through the electronic submission process found here.

Dissertations will be made available through UMI/Proquest and KU ScholarWorks, unless there is an embargo in place or special circumstances pertain as outlined in the KU Embargo policy.

The student must be the author of the dissertation, and every publication deriving from it must indicate that authorship. Practices vary among disciplines —and even among scholars in a given field— as to whether the mentor’s name may appear as a co-author, and whether as senior or junior co-author, on subsequent publication of the dissertation (usually revised), or on articles prepared from it. It is expected that clear understandings in individual cases will be established during the apprenticeship period, when ethical practices in publication are addressed within the professional development training of the program.

Exclusions or Special Circumstances: 

Students from the following programs are allowed to request a permanent embargo of their dissertation:

PhD in English: Literature and Creative Writing track 


Graduate Studies

Approved by: 
Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs
Approved on: 
Friday, July 17, 2009
Effective on: 
Friday, July 17, 2009
Review Cycle: 
Annual (As Needed)
Dissertation, Embargo, Scholarworks, Proquest, Graduation
Change History: 

This policy pre-dates the KU online Policy Library. The dates listed in the approval and effective date fields reflect the date it was moved into the Policy Library.

September 6, 2013: Revisions of this policy approved by Graduate Studies and the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor.

November 25, 2013: Revisions of this policy pending approval by the Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs.

Academic Categories: 
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