Dissertation and Defense

Guidelines for theses and dissertations
To set precise requirements on such things as length, style, or method of attack in a dissertation is to specify the form of creative work in advance, an obvious impossibility. The product of original investigation at this level will take a form depending ultimately on examination of other theses, study of the research literature, and consultation with faculty members. The following comments can be taken, therefore, only as suggestions.

Every dissertation is bound and made a part of the library of the University of Florida. The highest standards of composition, typography, and format must be used. (A booklet on Procedures for Binding and Submission of Theses and Dissertations is available from the Graduate School.) Hardbound copies are required for the Dean of Engineering and the Department, in addition to the Graduate School requirements. The research itself must reflect the rigorous standards of scholarly investigation: arguments must be careful and precise; reasoning must be clear; data carefully gathered and presented; conclusions clearly identified and labeled as such, if tentative; opposing data or arguments must be included and analyzed; and the work of others in the field must be described with sources given.

Two criteria dominate the evaluation of any dissertation once the above basic standards are achieved. They are: (1) originality and (2) quality. Obviously, the requirement of originality is difficult to document, but a definite effort should be made by the student to determine all previous work in the area. The facilities of the libraries of the University of Florida, as well as available interlibrary facilities, and the guidance of the faculty members are vital in this search process.

The requirement of quality is difficult to make precise. One observation, however, is that the thesis is expected to include methods and techniques appropriate to the candidate’s level of study. In other words, a master’s thesis should include approaches that are not ordinarily available at the bachelor’s level. Similarly, a thesis for the Engineer degree should display a level of sophistication beyond that of the master’s program, and so on. For the Ph.D. dissertation, there must be a definite “original and scholarly contribution” and of such character that part, or all, of it can be published in one or more refereed professional journals.

Oral Defense
Thesis students must defend their defense at an oral examination with the Supervisory Committee. The defense may include questions of a general nature on topics of the program of study. Students must be registered during the semester in which the oral examination is taken, and also at the time the degree is actually conferred.