Thesis Formats

14. THESIS FORMAT and Exit Seminars

See also information from the Graduate School.

14.1 Acceptable Formats. The Department of Biology recommends that the text be organized into one of the following two formats that differ mainly in whether the information is arranged in a form publishable in biological journals or in a more Traditional thesis style.

Traditional Thesis Format   

  • Title page
  • Abstract (<350 words)
  • Co-authorship (if necessary; see note below)
  • Acknowledgements
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Tables
  • List of Figures & Illustrations
  • Ch.1: General Introduction
  • Ch.2: Literature Review (may be included in intro.)
  • Ch.3: Materials and Methods
  • Ch.4 to n: Results chapters
  • Ch.n+1: Discussion
  • Summary
  • Literature Cited
  • Appendices    Title page

Manuscript Format

  • Abstract (<350 words)
  • Co-authorship (if necessary; see note below)
  • Acknowledgements
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Tables
  • List of Figures & Illustrations
  • Ch.1: General Introduction (incl review of the relevant literature)
  • Ch.2 to n: Manuscripts
  • Ch. n+1: General Discussion
  • Summary
  • Literature Cited
  • Appendices 

14.2. Manuscript Format. Theses prepared using this format should generally conform to the style required for submission to the prospective journal. The Literature Cited may either be collected in one section at the end of the whole thesis or be included at the end of each manuscript. Sometimes collecting all of the references at the end of the thesis is needed to meet the page limit. Figures and Tables should be numbered (Figure 3.1 etc.) to conform to Chapter numbers.

Manuscripts included as Chapters may be review, theoretical, or data papers organized as required by the journals to which they will be, or have been, submitted. The General Introduction should outline the subject and background for the research and indicate how the manuscripts are related to one another. Manuscript titles can be used as chapter titles. The General Introduction should include a review of the relevant literature and should have a broader perspective than the Manuscript chapters. The General Discussion should briefly discuss the contributions to the field made by this work, highlighting the major findings and tying the Chapters together. The Summary (usually one or two pages) should list, by number, the main subject and findings from the thesis research.

The student must be first author on the majority of manuscripts included in the thesis. Theses containing manuscripts that are included in another individual’s thesis, or are co-authored, must include a detailed statement in the General Introduction stating the student's contribution to the work.

14.3 Co-authorship. This should be a separate section (1-2 pages), following the Abstract, in which you outline who the coauthors (if there were any) are for each of the chapters and what their contribution was. You should also make it very clear here what your contribution was to each coauthored chapter. If there were no coauthors, do not include this section.

14.4 Page Limits. The maximum length for an MSc thesis is 100 pages inclusive of everything but appendices and front matter (title page, tables of contents, etc.). For a PhD thesis, the maximum number of pages is 175 inclusive of everything but appendices and front matter. If a student wishes to submit a thesis that is longer than these maxima, then he or she must obtain written permission from each member of the supervisory committee before submission.

14.5 Figures and Tables. Wherever possible, the caption for the figure or table should be on the same page as the figure or table and that page is to be numbered accordingly.  Traditionally, the legend for each figure has been placed on the facing page and this page was not numbered (legend plus fig only count as one page), but that style is a holdover from the days of ink and typewriter and should be avoided. You have three options as to where you can put the figures and tables: (1) insert each figure or table on the page right after where it is first mentioned in the text, (2) collect all of the tables and figures (in that order) at the end of each chapter, or at the end of the whole thesis [note that the Grad School regulations say otherwise but these are being changed as of 14 October 2010], or (3) insert the figures and tables onto text pages in the appropriate places, right after where they are first mentioned in the text. If you choose options (1) or (2), you should put no more than one figure on each page, though multipart figures are OK (a,b,c, etc). Sometimes the separate parts of multipart figures need to be put on different pages to have them a legible size. All of the material on any pages with figures or tables must fit inside the required 2.5 cm margin.

14.6 Further Details. The university's thesis format regulations are available from the Graduate School and are the final authority. The Department of Biology provides further information on thesis writing and defence.

14.7 Seminars. Prior to graduating, candidates for the PhD degree are required to present the results of their thesis research to the Biology Department as a departmental seminar. Candidates for the MSc degree are also required to present their thesis work before one of the Departmental Journal Clubs or, in special cases, as a Departmental seminar. The seminars, for MSc students, must be a minimum of 25 min in length, focused on the student's thesis research, be advertised to the department, and attendance available to any member of Biology.

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