Research Dissertation Format
Theses, research projects and dissertations represent the culmination of research, which significantly contributes to existing scholarship within academic fields. Each of these projects consists of a written interpretation of facts and opinions gained through critical reading and independent research. Because a thesis or dissertation is considered a student's original contribution to his or her professional field, it should be written to present meaningful research and ideas to create credible conclusions.
If you are NOT registered for one of the coursess listed below, you DO NOT need to submit the Thesis/Dissertaion forms and your document to The Graduate School.
- Thesis Research course in your flied with course number 700
- MUSC 763
- PSYC 800
- NURS 800
- Dissertation course in your field with course number 900
- CSD 920
- Thesis/Dissertaion Coninuance Course
Thesis/ Research Project/ Dissertation Committees
All questions concerning the content of the thesis, research project or dissertation and its organization should be resolved with the student's adviser. Students must also provide a list of thesis, research project, or dissertation committee members (via the Committee Approval Form) to The Graduate School to ensure that members have gone through the appropriate Graduate Faculty review process. The Committee Approval Form should be submitted to TGS no later than the second week of the semester in which the student first registers for dissertation or thesis. It is the student’s responsibility to select a graduate faculty member from his/her graduate program to serve as the director of the committee, and with the director’s guidance, select the remaining committee members. The following are guidelines for selecting the committee:
- Each committee must consist of at least three approved members of the JMU graduate faculty. Only full-time graduate faculty in the student’s program may direct or co-direct the committee.
- At least two of the three committee members must routinely participate in the student’s graduate program. The dean of The Graduate School must approve non-graduate faculty members for thesis, research project or dissertation committees.
- Non-graduate faculty members shall make up less than half of the total committee membership and may include persons external to the university.
Format requirements and style guidelines are provided in the Scholarly Document Manual for preparing and submitting a thesis, research project or dissertation to the Graduate School of James Madison University (JMU). These guidelines cannot be superseded by any other style guide unless explicitly required by the graduate or project adviser and approved by the dean of The Graduate School. Most programs specify an acceptable style guide for theses and dissertations and students should consult their program advisers on which style manual or guide to follow. Below are the three forms needed to be turned into The Graduate School and a sample title page you can use.
Committee Approval Form
Sample Approval Page
Embargo Form/ Document Agreement
Sample Title Page
Submission of Thesis, Research Project, or Dissertation
All Theses, Research Projects, and Dissertations are submitted electronically to The Graduate School and the University Libraries, through the JMU Scholarly Commons. In addition, at least one signed copy of the Approval Page and the Embargo Form must be submitted to The Graduate School. Thesis, Research Project, and Dissertation work is not considered complete until properly formatted and approved documents are submitted. Steps for proper submission are found on the JMU Scholarly Commons Submission link below.
JMU Scholarly Commons Submission
Submit your documents to The Graduate School and JMU libraries via the Scholarly Commons.
All doctoral students are required to submit their dissertation/document to ProQuest for publishing in Dissertation Abstracts. Doctoral graduates must complete the Dissertation Publishing Agreement. The publishing agreement and fee, if applicable, are submitted online directly to ProQuest via http://www.etdadmin.com/jmu.
- Following the guidelines for your program, register for the appropriate course(s).
- Choose a graduate faculty member to act as the chair of your committee then form the rest of your committee under the guidance of your chosen committee chair and among approved graduate faculty.
- Submit the Committee Approval form to The Graduate School within two weeks of registering.
- After your research is completed and you are ready to begin writing, refer to the style guide used by your academic unit and The Graduate School formatting requirements (Scholarly Document Manual).
- Prepare a rough draft of your document.
- Consult with your committee for approval of the content of your document.
- OPTIONAL: Attend a formatting workshop scheduled in the semester that you plan to complete your document
- OPTIONAL: submit your document for review of format via email to the appropriate Graduate School staff
- Make any necessary changes in content or format.
- Obtain signatures on approval pages, signed in black ink.
- Submit at least one copy of approval page to The Graduate School, along with the Embargo/Document Agreement (Information on Copyright may be found at http://www.jmu.edu/copyright/etds.shtml).
- Submit your document(s) to the Scholarly Commons electronically.
- For Dissertations, DMA and DNP Documents submit one copy electronically to ProQuest.
Deadlines for filing of thesis or dissertation with The Graduate School and Scholarly Commons:
Fall 2017: November 17
Spring 2018: April 18
Summer 2018: June 29
Copyright/Embargo Document Agreement
JMU Scholarly Commons Submission
Submit your documents to JMU
ProQuest Dissertation Abstracts submission
ProQuest electronic submission website for dissertations
Dissertation Formatting Guidelines
This section describes the dissertation format that all NYUSteinhardt doctoral candidates are required to follow. Dissertations must adhere to these requirements in order to be accepted by the Office of Doctoral Studies for the scheduling of the final oral examination. Please read this section carefully and contact the Office of Doctoral Studies if you have any questions.
Choice of Style Manual
Faculty policy leaves the choice of a style manual to the doctoral candidate with the advice and consent of his or her committee. Generally, candidates are urged to learn and use the manual most often required for scholarly writing by journals within their disciplines. Typically, the following style manuals are used by NYUSteinhardt students:
- American Psychological Association, Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association
- Gibaldi, J., & Achtert, W. S., MLA handbook for writers of research papers
- Turabian, K., A manual for writers of research papers, theses and dissertations
- The University of Chicago Press, The Chicago manual of style
The most recent editions of the chosen style manuals should be used.
Print and Copy Quality
Your printer must produce consistently black letters and consistent margins. Sufficient darkness is also necessary for any supporting materials, such as tables, figures, drawings, pictures, etc., -- either as originals or as copies -- that you may need to append or insert in your manuscript. Your dissertation will be published by ProQuest UMI which requires clear, high-contrast characters and images. As a guide to the quality that will be obtained, you can photocopy a sample page at 75% reduction to evaluate the readability and clarity of the print.
The School and ProQuest UMI allow students to use typefaces that are between 10 and 12 points; however, because 10 point can appear too small in most typefaces, 12 point is generally preferred. A smaller or condensed typeface can be used for tables that otherwise might not fit across a page within the correct margins, however, mixing typefaces is otherwise not recommended.
Underlining or italics may be used for statistical symbols, book titles, or definitions (but use either one or the other consistently throughout your manuscript, including tables). Headings should be underlined when appropriate and not italicized. Bold type should not be used in the manuscript.
Do not justify the right margin of your text; keep it left aligned like the text shown here.
To assure proper binding and for ease of reading, the following margins are required:
- Left margin: one and one-half inches for all pages.
- Right margin: one and one-half inches for all pages, with no intrusion of letters or anything else into the right margin.
- Top margin: one-and-one-quarter inches for all pages except the first page of the Acknowledgments, Table of Contents, List of Tables, List of Figures, each chapter, Bibliography, and Appendices which should begin two inches from the top edge of the page.
- Bottom margin: one-and-one-quarter inches for all pages.
- Page numbers for all pages preceding page 1 of Chapter I (lower case roman numerals for Acknowledgments, Table of Contents, etc.) should be placed three-quarters of an inch from the bottom of the page, centered between the left and right margins.
- Page numbers from page 1 of Chapter I through the last page of the last appendix should be placed three-quarters of an inch from the top or bottom, centered between the left and right margins.
See the next section for sample dissertation pages.
Avoid leaving more than two inches of white space without type. This applies to tables and figures as well as to text. A table or figure should be inserted in the text as soon after it is first referred to where it will fit in its entirety on one page. Leave three blank lines between a table and text or text and a table; the same for figures. Continue your text if you can fit at least four lines after it. You may have more than one table on a page and you may have a table, discussion, and a table. The same procedure applies to all illustrative material.
Double space the entire manuscript with these exceptions (which should be single-spaced):
- chapter titles, appendix titles, headings, and subheadings of more than one line;
- block quotations;
- column headings and lines that run on in tables;
- bibliography or references entries -- double space between entries;
- figure captions;
- explanatory material for figures, tables, and illustrations; and
- appendices -- the spacing will vary depending on the source and content.
APA style requires writers to double space all typed material, including the exceptions noted above. If you are using APA, the above rules supersede APA rules in most cases. You have the option, however, of double spacing your references and block quotations; MLA style users also have this option.
The title page is counted as page one and the copyright page as page two, but numbers do not appear on them. Lower case roman numerals (iii, iv, v, vi, etc.) are used for all subsequent pages up to the first page of the text (page 1 of Chapter I) and should be placed three quarters of an inch from the bottom edge of the paper, centered between the margins.
Beginning with page 1 of Chapter I, Arabic numbers are used and are continuous through the last page including all appendices. Page numbers for all pages in the chapter, including the first page of each chapter or major section, should be placed three quarters of an inch from the top or bottom edge of the paper centered between the margins.
Order of Sections
The material of your manuscript should be ordered as follows:
- title page;
- copyright page;
- table of contents;
- list(s) of tables, figures, charts, graphs, musical examples, illustrations, etc., if used;
- preface or forward, if used;
- the text;
- and appendices (if any).
Title Page of Dissertation
Please see the sample title page below. You are required to follow that format exactly.
You will have the option to have your dissertation copyrighted when you submit it to Proquest/UMI for publication. You should include a copyright page with your name and copyright date in the middle of the page, centered left to right (between the margins) and top to bottom. Please note that the copyright date is the year of your degree conferral. Follow this format:
The copyright page is page ii of the pages preceding the text (the title page is understood to be page i), but no number should appear on either the title page or the copyright page.
Table of Contents and Lists of Tables and Figures
Because a dissertation does not have an index, your Table of Contents should be as comprehensive as possible. Include all headings and subheadings, exactly as they appear in the text, up to and including Level 2. Including lower level headings is optional. (See sample Table of Contents in the next section.) Note that the indentation of a heading used in the Table of Contents corresponds to the level of the heading. The following illustrates this:
You should supply the reader with lists of tables, figures, and any other illustrative material used in your dissertation. See the sample lists in the next section. Lists of musical examples or reproductions of art, or information about films, follow the same form as that used for lists of tables and figures.
Chapter Titles and Headings
Chapter headings and titles appear as follows, beginning two inches from the top of the page:
Headings within the chapter should indicate the weight you assign to particular ideas by the form of headings suggested in the style manual you have selected or the form suggested below.
Leave three blank lines (i.e., begin typing after two double spaces) before each heading and after each major section and chapter title. If one heading immediately follows another, leave only one blank line (a double space) between the two. Leave one blank line (a double space) after each heading. Capitalize the first letter of each word of headings except for articles, conjunctions, and prepositions.
The following is one way in which to order headings and to type them. Students following APA style may use the format in the APA Style Guide, however, the format below is preferred for NYU Steinhardt dissertations.
See the sample page 1 in the next section for an example of heading placement.
Be sure that no heading appears at the bottom of a page without at least two lines of text beneath it. The Table of Contents will contain all Level 1 and Level 2 headings exactly as they appear in the text. It is not necessary to include Level 3 or lower-level headings in the Table of Contents, but you may if it provides the reader with more useful information.
Chapter numbers are upper case roman numerals (with no period), e.g., CHAPTER IV, to differentiate them from any other numbers in the text. All other items requiring numbers should have Arabic numbers. Appendices, should be designated by capital letters, e.g., APPENDIX A, APPENDIX B, etc.
Use numbers or letters for other items only when necessary. Use 1) in the text and 1. in a set-off list; a) in the text and a. in a set-off list -- not (1) or 1). or a.), etc. If items in a numbered list run onto two or more lines, you may let the additional lines begin at the margin or indent the entire paragraph to the right of the numbers.
Numbers beginning a sentence, as well as numbers below 10 (or, if you prefer, 12) should be spelled out when they appear within the text.
Reduction of Tables and Other Materials
If a table, appendix, illustration, or graph is too wide or long, or both, to fit within the specified margins, have it reduced, or if textual material, type it using a smaller font. Whenever possible, avoid inserting tables which must be read by turning the book sideways. If such a table is necessary, be sure to insert it with the heading to the spine or binding. You may also use a condensed typeface.
For style guides other than APA, if you have more than one work by the same author, do not repeat his or her name over and over. Use ten underscore characters, ending with a period if the author is exactly the same as the previous one, or with a comma if the author is the first of a series of new authors, as shown below. Single space the entry; double space between entries. Indent the second and subsequent lines one-half inch.
Note that authors with two initials have a space after the period between each initial, e.g., Smith, A. B., & Jones, M. J. Do not allow initials to break between lines; keep them together on one line or the other.
Regardless of the style guide you use, avoid having one or two lines of an entry on one page and the rest of the citation on the next page. The entry should be cited in its entirety on one page or the other.
Citations in Text
The way you cite an author in your manuscript is based on the context. If you are attributing an idea that you paraphrased to someone, use the name and date (according to APA style) such as (Jones, 2002), or as shown in the first sentence below. If you are
using a direct quotation, use the same format, but you must include the page number where you found it, as shown in the second sentence below. Also, specific information or ideas need a page number even if paraphrased. For example, the following brief passage refers to the same publication by a hypothetical author:
Review the whole manuscript to be sure that every work referred to in the manuscript is cited in the text (or footnotes) and included in the bibliography.
Block (Indented) Quotations
Four or more lines of a quotation should be set off from the main text with a double space, typed single spaced with no quotation marks, and the entire block indented one-half inch. Quotations within these block (or indented) quotations may use double quotations. The first line of the quotation is not indented; however, the first lines of new paragraphs within the quotation should begin with an additional indent of one-half inch. Students using APA or MLA style may double space block quotations.
Each appendix should have the proper designation at the top of the first page. A title page does not need to be inserted before each one. Use the following format, centered between the left and right margins, beginning two inches from the top of the page:
PARTICIPANT CONSENT FORM
If you have material that, because of its format, needs to have a title page (because the title doesn't fit on the same page as the material), you need to consistently use title pages for all appendices. Avoid it if you can. Again, all material in an appendix must fit within the overall page margins.
Letters of Permission
It is necessary to obtain letters of permission for the reproduction of any copyrighted material which exceeds the Federal law pertaining to "Fair Use." Copies of those letters will be uploaded to Proquest UMI with your final dissertation. Copies of the letters do not need to be included in the dissertation.
The abstract is a brief summary of the contents of the dissertation. Begin typing the abstract two inches from the top of a blank page with no heading. The abstract should be typed double-spaced with the same typeface and margins as the dissertation. The length of the abstract should be limited to 350 words.
The abstract title page is identical to the dissertation title page with one exception: the abstract title page has the words An Abstract of directly above the title (see Sample Title Page in the next section). Each abstract is stapled in the upper left corner and kept separate from the dissertation. The chairperson of the dissertation committee should sign one copy of the abstract title page.
The following section includes sample dissertation pages which should be followed carefully. Refer to the preceding section for more detailed information on format requirements. Students should follow the instructions on these sample pages rather than using a dissertation from the library (or elsewhere) as a guide. Format requirements differ from year to year and from school to school.