Jun 25, 2019  
2017-2018 Graduate Academic Calendar 
    
2017-2018 Graduate Academic Calendar [ARCHIVED CALENDAR]

Thesis, project or major paper



Many master's programs require students to write a thesis or major paper, or produce a project or portfolio. All written work must be in English and in correct, concise and scholarly language.

PhD candidacy examinations

Each student in a doctoral program is required to prepare a written thesis proposal and pass a candidacy exam. Full-time students are expected to do so within 18 months of their initial registration in the program. The examination is to determine whether the candidate has the appropriate knowledge and expertise to undertake a thesis in the selected field of study.

A candidacy committee conducts the examination. This committee consists of the following members:

  • The student's supervisor(s).
  • At least two additional members from the student's supervisory committee (the student's supervisory committee must be established prior to the oral examination).
  • Graduate program director (or delegate) as chair. The chair cannot be a member of the student's supervisory committee.
  • The external examiner for a candidacy exam has expertise that is relevant to the thesis subject matter and normally is a faculty member at UOIT, although examiners external to the university may be appointed.
  • Examiners should not have been an examiner for another PhD student's candidacy exam with the same supervisor within the last year.
  • The conflict of interest regulations for external and university examiners in thesis defences also apply to candidacy external examiners (see conflicts of interest policy).
  • The external examiner is appointed by the Dean of Graduate Studies in consultation with the graduate program director. A curriculum vitae for the recommended examiner and a written rationale for the choice must be provided to the Dean of Graduate Studies.

All members of the committee are voting members. In the case of co-supervision, co-supervisors collectively have one vote.

The candidacy committee must be established at least four weeks prior to the exam. The candidacy examination comprises the following:

  1. A written thesis proposal which must be distributed to the candidacy committee at least four full weeks prior to the examination date. The thesis proposal demonstrates:
    1. The student's mastery of the relevant background knowledge, including an appropriate breadth of knowledge in the discipline.
    2. A coherent and achievable research plan that will result in an original contribution.
  2. An oral presentation of the PhD thesis proposal (preferably 20 minutes and not to exceed 30 minutes), followed by open questioning of the candidate by the candidacy committee to ascertain the readiness of the candidate to carry out the proposed research.

At the end of the oral exam, the chair asks the candidate to leave and the candidacy committee meets in closed session. The candidacy committee deliberates and makes a judgment of satisfactory or unsatisfactory. A written report is prepared by the chair, signed by all committee members and submitted to the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies with copies to the members of the candidacy committee. The results are communicated to the student by the chair of the committee.

Students who change their research area after successfully passing a candidacy examination must consult with their supervisory committee and may be required to pass another candidacy exam.

Outcomes of PhD candidacy examination

A judgment of satisfactory allows the student to proceed with PhD studies.

If the judgment is unsatisfactory, the student is required to retake the exam within four months. For a second exam, the examination team must include an additional member of the graduate faculty who was not involved in the original examination.

A judgment of satisfactory in a second exam allows the student to proceed with his/her studies. If a student receives an unsatisfactory judgment in a second attempt at a candidacy exam, or if a student does not retake the candidacy exam within four months after an unsatisfactory first attempt, the student shall receive a grade of Fail and be dismissed from the PhD program.

For those students taking the candidacy exam to transfer from a master's to a PhD, a judgment of satisfactory allows the student to transfer. For further details, see transfer from a thesis-based master's to a PhD program .

Permission to begin

Permission to begin the thesis is given by the student's supervisory committee when there is general agreement that sufficient research has been done. If the student's program requires a project or major paper, the student's research supervisor authorizes the student to begin the project or major paper.

Students should seek guidance from their research supervisor regarding the use of a style manual appropriate to the academic discipline in which they are working, as well as other available guides to assist in effective writing. See gradstudies.uoit.ca/thesis for deadlines, guidelines and procedures for thesis preparation and submission.

Students are also expected to be aware of and observe copyright requirements and to follow standards as outlined in UOIT's policies on Research Ethics and Research Involving Animals. Further details are available at research.uoit.ca.

Use of copyright material in student work

When preparing a thesis, major paper or other program work, students may include some copyright material, typically in the form of excerpts from books or articles, charts, diagrams or similar previously published materials. It is the student's responsibility to acknowledge properly any copyright materials used, strictly following the citation guidelines and rules of the faculty and/or program.

As well, students who use extensive selections of copyright work may need to seek advance written permission from the author and must append the letter to their work. Students should contact the copyright holder well in advance of their deadline as obtaining permission to use copyright materials may take considerable time. In addition, students may be required to pay a fee to obtain such permission. Questions regarding the use of copyright materials should be discussed with the faculty advisor or research supervisor, as appropriate.

Students may be required to submit their work to Turnitin.com. Further information can be obtained online from UOIT's policy on the Use of Turnitin.com's Plagiarism Detection System at academicintegrity.uoit.ca.

Oral examination for master's and doctoral candidates

Master's candidates whose programs require a thesis and doctoral candidates are required to defend their completed thesis/dissertation orally in front of an examining committee. Candidates are expected to follow the advice of their research supervisor(s) and their supervisory committee in establishing when their work is ready for examination. In exceptional circumstances, candidates may request that the Dean of Graduate Studies arrange for an examination of the thesis/dissertation or other work without the support of the research supervisor(s) and supervisory committee.

It is the candidate's responsibility to ensure that all materials are prepared and assembled appropriately. Candidates should consult their research supervisor(s) for specific regulations on the preparation and presentation of thesis/dissertation materials.

Examining committee

The examining committee evaluates the academic merit of each student who defends a thesis and decides whether the candidate has satisfactorily passed the oral examination.

Master's candidates

For master's candidates, the examining committee consists of all members of the supervisory committee plus one external examiner (see external and university examiners). The committee is chaired by the graduate program director or designate.

Doctoral candidates

For doctoral candidates, the examining committee consists of the external examiner, one university examiner (see external and university examiners) and all members of the candidate's supervisory committee (including the research supervisor(s)). The committee is chaired by the graduate program director or designate.

External and university examiners

Conflicts of interest

Conflicts of interest must be avoided for all examiners. A conflict of interest is a conflict between a person's duties and responsibilities with regard to the examination process, and that person's private, professional, business or public interests. Conflicts of interest include real, perceived or potential conflicts. Examiners must not be closely linked with either the candidate or the research supervisor in a personal, financial or research capacity. Key examples of conflicts of interest are set out below.

Examiners should not have had any direct contact with the candidate as a graduate student, nor have any plans to collaborate with or employ the candidate in the immediate future.

Examiners must not have been teaching or supervising a spouse, family member or relative of the candidate or of the supervisor within the last six years. Correspondingly, supervisors also must not have been teaching or supervising a spouse, family member or relative of examiners within the last six years.

Examiners should not have been closely professionally affiliated with a supervisor, as a result of having been a supervisor or a trainee of the supervisor; or having collaborated, published or shared funding with the supervisor within the last six years; or having plans to collaborate in the immediate future.

Should the candidate's dissertation contain chapters or sections of previously published works, an examiner shall not have been involved in the review or editing of this material in any capacity.

Master's candidates

The master's external examiner has expertise that is relevant to the thesis subject matter and normally is a faculty member at UOIT, although examiners external to the university may be appointed. External examiners should not have been an external examiner for another master's student with the same supervisor within the last year.

The external examiner is appointed by the Dean of Graduate Studies upon recommendation of the graduate program director. A curriculum vitae for the recommended examiner and a written rationale for the choice must be provided to the Dean of Graduate Studies.

Doctoral candidates

Both university and external examiners should hold the rank of full or associate professor (or equivalent) if they are at a university, or of comparable expertise and standing if not at a university. The university examiner has expertise that is relevant to the thesis subject matter and normally is a faculty member at UOIT, although examiners external to the university may be appointed. An external examiner for a PhD dissertation is a well‐qualified, objective and experienced individual who has considerable direct knowledge in the field of study of the subject matter.

University examiners may have been the external for the same student's candidacy exam. University examiners should not have been a university examiner for another PhD student with the same supervisor within the last year.

External examiners will not have been associated or affiliated with UOIT during the last six years through any type of employment or adjunct or visiting position nor have any plans to do so in the immediate future. External examiners should not have been an external examiner for another PhD student with the same supervisor within the last two years.

The university and external examiners are appointed by the Dean of Graduate Studies upon recommendation of the graduate program director. A curriculum vitae for each recommended examiner and a written rationale for the choice must be provided to the Dean of Graduate Studies.

External examiner's report for master's and doctoral candidates

The external examiner shall prepare a report of his/her assessment of the candidate's thesis and send it to the Dean of Graduate Studies or designate no less than one week before the scheduled exam date. The Dean of Graduate Studies may postpone the final examination if the external examiner's report is not received by this deadline.

The dean or designate will distribute copies of the report to all other members of the examining committee. The content of the report is confidential and must not be discussed with the candidate prior to the final examination. Depending on the content of the report, the examining committee and the Dean of Graduate Studies may meet to determine whether or not to proceed with the final examination.

University examiner's report for doctoral candidates

The university examiner shall prepare a report of his/her assessment of the candidate's dissertation and send it to the Dean of Graduate Studies or designate no less than one week before the scheduled exam date. The Dean of Graduate Studies may postpone the final examination if the university examiner's report is not received by this deadline.

The dean or designate will distribute copies of the report to all other members of the examining committee. The content of the report is confidential and must not be discussed with the candidate prior to the final examination. Depending on the content of the report, the examining committee and the Dean of Graduate Studies may meet to determine whether or not to proceed with the final examination.

Approval for the oral examination

Before an oral examination can be held, the supervisory committee must approve the thesis for examination (no more than one negative vote and/or abstention). The student's work must be submitted at least four weeks prior to the proposed oral examination.

Examination procedure

Once the thesis has been deemed ready for examination, the chair of the examining committee is responsible for ensuring that all necessary arrangements are made. This includes sending the thesis to the external examiner, setting the examination date and preparing the relevant documents needed at the time of the examination. The chair of the examining committee must be physically present during the oral examination.

If a member of the examining committee finds that he or she is unable to attend the oral examination in person or remotely via synchronous participation, the graduate program director should secure a suitable replacement. Should a suitable replacement not be found, the member is asked to submit his or her questions or concerns to be read by the examining committee chair at the defence. Normally, no more than two members of the examining committee, including the external examiner, may attend the defence remotely. At least one member of the supervisory committee must be physically present. In extraordinary circumstances, the examination will be rescheduled if one or more members of the examining committee are unable to attend. In the case of online programs, alternate arrangements will be permitted.

There are three main phases to the thesis defence: the presentation phase, the question phase and the deliberation phase.

The presentation phase is the oral presentation by the candidate. This short presentation, of approximately 20 minutes, summarizes the main arguments and findings of the work.

Normally, the presentation is an open event that can be attended by all interested parties; however, extraordinarily, the presentation may be closed to a restricted audience, or no audience, for reasons of confidentiality, safety or intellectual property. In some cases, committee and audience members may be asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement. The chair of the examining committee, in consultation with the graduate program director and the research supervisor, will determine whether the defence is open or closed. The reasons for closing a defence are to be provided in the chair's report to the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

The question phase is the second component of the defence. In all cases, the candidate must answer questions from the examining committee. The chair will determine whether the audience is allowed to stay for the question phase of the examination and, if they do stay, whether they are permitted to participate in questioning the candidate. The chair shall limit the amount of time for questions from the audience, if applicable, and may continue with questions from the examining committee after the audience has left the room. Questions must be related to the work done by the student for the thesis and be based on knowledge directly related to the material. Only speakers recognized by the chair may ask questions, and the chair controls the order and flow of questioning. The chair can also ask questions.

The deliberation phase is the third major part of the defence. When the question phase is over, the student is asked to leave the room and members of the examining committee determine the outcome of the oral examination. All decisions of the examining committee are made by majority vote. The chair of the examining committee is a non-voting member, unless the chair's vote is needed to break a tie.

Outcomes of completion of the oral examination

A thesis is ultimately graded as a Pass or a Fail and these are the only grades that are on the transcript. In addition, there are possibilities for revision available as part of the process leading to a final grade of Pass or Fail. The examining committee renders one of the following four evaluations:

1. Acceptable without Required Revisions

An evaluation by the committee of Acceptable without Required Revisions means that the thesis is acceptable without any further editorial work. A thesis that is so evaluated is given a grade of Pass, subject only to the reproduction of the thesis and its submission to the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. Any minor discretionary edits (e.g., spelling, grammar, table numbering) that are made before the final thesis is submitted must be approved by the research supervisor and cannot alter the thesis in any substantial way.

2. Acceptable with Minor Revisions

An evaluation by the committee of Acceptable with Minor Revisions means that there are no fundamental changes to the thesis required by the committee. Minor revision requirements are changes or additions that normally should be able to be accomplished within four weeks. The supervisor will normally be tasked with approving these revisions, but the chair may designate other member(s) of the committee to supervise the edit if this will expedite the process. A maximum of two examiners can supervise minor revisions. A thesis that is Acceptable with Minor Revisions will be given a grade of Pass when the revisions have been approved and when the completed thesis is reproduced and submitted to the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

3. Major Revisions Required

A thesis that has the potential to be acceptable after major revisions will be evaluated as Major Revisions Required. Any revisions so mandated must be able to be completed within a maximum of six months. A thesis can be evaluated as Major Revisions Required only once. The committee shall decide how the revised thesis will be examined. Re-examination options include the following: a full repeat of the oral exam; an oral defence without an audience in front of the examining committee, or a subset of the examining committee; or editorial supervision by the supervisor and a second reader. There must always be two examiners at minimum (normally including the supervisor) for major revisions. Although a subset of the examining committee can approve major revisions, a full examining committee (optionally including an external examiner) must determine that a revised thesis is not acceptable and receives a grade of Fail.

4. Not Acceptable

The examining committee may evaluate a thesis as Not Acceptable if it does not meet the standards for the discipline or the area of study. A thesis can be evaluated as Not Acceptable in the first attempt at a defence if it is found to be fundamentally flawed and beyond revision in six months. In this type of case, the committee will have decided that there is no reasonable prospect of success with a revision.

Detailed reasons for failure must be submitted by the chair of the examining committee to the Dean of Graduate Studies, the graduate program director and the candidate within two weeks. The thesis is given a final grade of Fail.

Project or major paper evaluation

The research supervisor or co-supervisors and at least one other reader shall evaluate the project or major paper. Readers are appointed by the graduate program director from among the graduate faculty or associate graduate faculty for the program. All evaluations must be accompanied by a report that outlines the reasons for the decision.

The supervisor(s) and reader(s) will assign one of the following four evaluations:

  • Acceptable without Required Revisions.
  • Acceptable with Minor Revisions.
  • Major Revisions Required.
  • Not Acceptable.

In cases where all the submitted evaluations are Acceptable without Required Revisions, a grade of Pass will be given.

In cases where at least one evaluation is Acceptable with Minor Revisions and there are no Major Revisions Required or Not Acceptable evaluations, the research supervisor ensures that the student's work is revised to respond to the recommended minor revisions. Normally, these revisions must be completed within four weeks. Minor revisions must not fundamentally change the content of the project or major paper. Upon the satisfactory completion of the revisions, a grade of Pass will be submitted for the student.

In cases where at least one evaluation is Major Revisions Required and there are no Not Acceptable evaluations, the research supervisor ensures that the student's work is revised to respond to the recommended changes. These revisions must be completed within six months. After these revisions are complete, the student's project or major paper is circulated a second time for evaluation by the research supervisor or co-supervisor and at least one other reader appointed by the graduate program director. Any evaluation of Major Revisions Required or Not Acceptable from the second reading results in a grade of Fail. Any evaluation of Acceptable without Revisions or Acceptable with Minor Revisions will be processed accordingly and the student will be given a grade of Pass.

In cases where there are at least two Not Acceptable evaluations, the student will be given a grade of Fail.

In cases where there is only one Not Acceptable evaluation, the graduate program director will meet with the research supervisor and the student within two weeks. The graduate program director chooses one of two options after this consultation:

  • The graduate program director sends the project or major paper to another reader within four weeks. The project or major paper may incorporate only minor revisions. If the new reader determines that the project or major paper is either Acceptable without Revisions, Acceptable with Minor Revisions or Major Revisions Required, the evaluation of the student's work will continue with the appropriate level of response as outlined above for the decision that requires the greatest revision. If the new reader evaluates the work as Not Acceptable, the student will have then received a second Not Acceptable and is given a grade of Fail.
  • The graduate program director follows the procedures associated with Major Revisions Required.

Thesis, project or major paper notation

Upon acceptance of the student's thesis, project or major paper, the title of the work and date of approval are recorded on the transcript.

Permission to withhold thesis from public domain

If, at the time of submitting his/her thesis, the student elects to protect any rights to immediate commercial publication, or to obtain a patent which may arise from his/her research, or to keep his/her thesis out of circulation for other reasons, he/she may apply in writing to the Dean of Graduate Studies requesting that the thesis be withheld from the public domain for a period of up to 12 months from the date of successful defence.

The student must submit any request for extension of the restriction of circulation one month prior to the termination of the previous period. The student and his/her supervisor are required to justify the extension of the restriction. Subsequent requests must follow the same procedure.

This request must be made when the thesis is first submitted to the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

Submission of student work

Once a student's thesis, project or major paper has been approved, the student must submit the work formally. The following procedures and conditions apply:

  1. One bound copy and one electronic copy of the original thesis, project or major paper become UOIT property.
  2. The student grants UOIT a royalty-free, non-exclusive license to make copies of the work for academic purposes at UOIT and upon request from other universities or bona fide institutions.
  3. The international copyright symbol (©) is displayed prominently on the title page of the thesis or displayed with similar prominence on other types of work.
  4. The site licence, signed by the student at the start of the program, takes effect; the site licence permits the UOIT library to circulate as part of its collection and/or copy the work for academic purposes only (the university's copyright notice is placed on all copies made under the authority of the licence).
  5. While the site licence excludes the sale of authorized copies for profit, UOIT may recover duplication costs through a fee.
  6. Every copy made available under the licence clearly states that the copy is being made available in this form with full consent of the copyright owner and only for the purposes of private study or research.
  7. UOIT may submit the work to the National Library of Canada, which is permitted to reproduce and lend copies for educational or research use only.