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Doctoral dissertation procedures

Eight weeks prior to defense date

  1. Supervisory committee approves a final version of the dissertation.
  2. Supervisor contacts the Department Graduate Officer to set up examining committee. Supervisor provides Graduate Officer with the following:
  • A list of candidates (five individuals suggested) for the role of Internal/External examiner.  Include information such as Department, email address, a line or two regarding suitability, and a statement concerning any professional or personal connection that may exist between Student and/or Supervisor and the Internal/External.
  • A list of candidates (five individuals suggested) for the role of External examiner. Include information such as university position, email address, a line or two regarding suitability, and a statement concerning any professional or personal connection between student and/or supervisor and the external examiner. Please see the GSO guidelines on selecting an appropriate external examiner
  • A copy of the dissertation abstract
  1. Graduate Officer contacts both the External and the Internal/External examiners regarding availability for the proposed date of defense. When an individual is identified for each of these roles, please ask in which medium they would like to receive the thesis (digital PDF or print copy).

Note: Travel and hospitality expenses exceeding $750.00 will not be covered by the Faculty of Arts. External examiners can be offered a teleconferencing option to participate from greater distances.

Six weeks prior to defense date

  1. The Department Graduate Coordinator books a room for the defense. Once both the External and Internal/External examiners are identified, and a date for the defense is finalized, a room needs to be reserved.

Note: Skype is NOT an acceptable means of conducting a PhD Defense if one of the examiners is participating remotely. If the defense is going to occur via teleconference,  the following rooms and contact people are recommended:

In an email to one of these individuals please provide the following:

  • Date requested
  • Beginning and ending time of the defense
  • The number of remote participants
  • Contact information for remote participants (i.e. name, email, contact phone number)

In return, the technical support will liaise with the Committee member who is participating remotely and the student to ensure everyone is prepared and aware of what happens during the defense.

The technical support person then contacts the remote participant to advise them to set up a Jabber Video Account on their system or points the remote user to www.ciscojabbervideo.com to create an account. Then they arrange a time to do a quick test connection. During that test, the technical support person goes over how to use the Jabber Video Client and what to expect during the video conference.

If the student has not been in the room before, the technical support team also arranges a time before the defense for the student to come in and familiarize themselves with the room and how it works.

Technical support handles the scheduling system to call the remote participant and connect them into the conference. On the day of the event, the tech support team is on site about 10 minutes prior to the call to set up the room and to ensure everything starts properly. The committee and chair are provided with tech support phone extensions in case of an emergency.

  1. Once the room is booked, the Department Graduate Coordinator prepares the Memorandum of Defense (see attached document in email) for signature, collects the CV (a web page bio is not enough; we require a CV) from the External examiner, and one hard copy of the dissertation if that is the preferred medium the external examiner has indicated.

Five weeks + three days prior to defense

  1. The Department Graduate Coordinator submits the above materials, as well as a digital copy of the dissertation to the office of the Associate Dean, Graduate Studies, via the Faculty Graduate Coordinator.
  • If a hard copy is requested by the external please make sure the dissertation copy is bound – either by a large butterfly clip or ring binding before submitting to the Faculty Graduate Coordinator.
  • This submission must occur at least five weeks and three days (28 Business days) prior to the date of defense. Note that statutory holidays, University holidays, and weekends do not count towards this five week public display period.  If you are unclear about the dates for this, please contact the Faculty Graduate Coordinator

The additional three days are to ensure that the Associate Dean, Graduate Studies has adequate time to review the documents before the dissertation is on public display. Digital copies are to be used for the public display purposes. If an outside party contacts the Faculty Graduate Coordinator with interest in reading the dissertation, this is the medium in which the copy will be provided.

Five weeks prior to defense

  1. Once the thesis memorandum is approved, the Faculty Coordinator will notify the department (including the Supervisor, Graduate Officer and Graduate Coordinator) and disperse digital copies of the dissertation to all committee members with information indicating the date and time of the defense and with a request for confirmation of receipt. Then, if so requested by the External Examiner, a hard copy of the dissertation will be mailed. The Faculty Coordinator handles notifying the GSO and the Daily Bulletin regarding the exam. 

Included in the package from the Faculty Coordinator to the External examiner are the following materials: External examiner appointment letter, a request for confirmation of package receipt, general instructions regarding the defense procedures, a campus map, travel claim form, and travel expense guidelines.  If the external is attending remotely, a digital copy of the general instructions and the appointment letter will be sent to them by email.

  1. The Graduate Officer should also follow up with the External examiner to confirm the exam timing and communicate that the Faculty of Arts Graduate Studies Office will be in touch shortly.

Example correspondence:

Dear (EXTERNAL)

I hope all is well with you.

I wanted to update you on (CANDIDATE)’s upcoming defense. He/she will be submitting his/her thesis by (DATE OF SUBMISSION) at the latest. The Faculty of Arts Graduate Studies Office will send a digital or hard copy of the thesis, as you prefer, directly to you with related instructions. You can preview a description of the "External Examiner Report" in the graduate calendar.

The dissertation defense is scheduled for (DATE OF DEFENSE).

Once you have booked your travel, the Department Graduate Administrative Coordinator, will be able to assist you with hotel and other arrangements as needed. I am copying (Department Graduate Administrative Coordinator) so that you have her email address.

Please let me know if you have any questions about the process. Thank you for your participation, and I look forward to seeing you in (MONTH OF DEFENSE)!

Regards,

cc:        Graduate Officer

            Graduate Coordinator

  1. Department Graduate Coordinators now proceed with (If external is attending in person):
  • Making travel arrangements for External examiner, unless he/she makes own arrangements. If External examiners are booking their own travel, Department Graduate Coordinators should ask for a confirmation of booking to make other arrangements.
  • Hotel booking for External examiner (normally one, at most two, nights – depends on time of oral).
  • Ground transportation, as required, is also booked by the Department Graduate Coordinator. If Airways Transit is used, make the arrangements and send purchase requisition to Faculty Coordinator for approval.

Two/three weeks prior to defense

  1. The Department Graduate Coordinator reconfirms the location, date and time of the exam with each committee member by email.
  2. Graduate Studies Office notifies Faculty coordinator of selection of Defense Chairperson.
  3. External examiner is sent reminders by the faculty coordinator regarding due date of report and submission deadline.

One week prior to defense

  1. Notification of Defense is posted on The Daily Bulletin.
  2. External report is received and reviewed by the Associate Dean, and along with final committee details, is circulated by email to the Supervisor, Graduate officer and Department Graduate Coordinator. External report is not to be shown to the candidate prior to the defense.
  3. Package of materials is forwarded to the Examination Chairperson with request for confirmation of receipt. This package includes: final committee listing, dissertation acceptance form, guidelines for conducting PhD examinations, the External examiner’s report, and dissertation abstract.

Defense day

  1. All Committee Members and the PhD candidate are required to be in attendance (includes attendance by teleconferencing) unless other arrangements have been made with the Faculty and Graduate Studies Offices.

After defense

  1. PhD Defense Report is received by the Faculty office as part of the Examination Chair’s package.
  • If clear pass – report is returned to the Faculty coordinator, reviewed and signed by the Associate Dean, and a digital acceptance form is created and submitted to the Graduate Studies Office. The Supervisor, Student, Graduate officer, and Department Graduate Coordinator are cc’d. The student may now submit completed dissertation to UWSpace for review.
  • If revisions are required – report is returned to Faculty coordinator and a letter stating due date of revisions and immediate academic deadlines is returned to the Department Graduate coordinator. When revisions are completed the supervisor signs off on the copy of the Thesis acceptance form and the form is returned to the Faculty office by the Department Graduate coordinator.  This acceptance form is signed by the Associate Dean and a digital acceptance form is created and submitted to the Graduate Studies Office. The Supervisor, Student, Graduate officer, and Department Graduate coordinator are cc’d. The student may now submit completed dissertation to UW Space for review.
  • If decision is deferred – report is returned to Faculty coordinator and a letter stating due date of revisions and immediate academic deadlines is returned to the Department Graduate coordinator. When issues are addressed and revisions are completed the supervisor signs off on the copy of the Thesis acceptance form and the form is returned to the Faculty office by the Department Graduate coordinator. This acceptance form is signed by the Associate Dean and a digital acceptance form is created and submitted to the Graduate Studies Office.  The Supervisor, Student, Graduate officer, and Department Graduate coordinator are cc’d. The student may now submit completed dissertation to UWSpace for review.
  • If decision is rejected – report is returned to Faculty coordinator. The Associate dean is notified by the Faculty coordinator, and reviews the comments of the committee.
    • If comments indicate individual is being asked to withdraw, a formal required to withdraw letter is created by the Department Graduate Coordinator, signed by the Graduate Officer, following the guidelines here (https://uwaterloo.ca/graduate-studies/faculty-and-staff/forms/required-withdraw-decision-process) The original to be issued to the Student, and copies sent to the Faculty Associate Dean, Graduate studies and the Director of the Graduate Studies Office.
    • If student is permitted to continue, a clear plan of action for review, revision and resubmission of the dissertation must be submitted within one semester of the defense failure.
  1. The Faculty coordinator sends a travel claim form to the external examiner if they are attending in person. Included with this is a request that once travel is complete, the form comes back to the Department Graduate Coordinator with all receipts (including boarding passes, etc.) Once the Department Graduate Coordinator has reviewed the claim, she forwards it to the Faculty Coordinator for payment of travel claims up to $750.00 CDN.
  2. The Faculty coordinator also processes the request for honorarium payment to the Graduate Studies Office. This is generally sent to the External Examiner within six weeks of the completion of the defense.

Download the Faculty of Arts Doctoral Dissertation Procedures (PDF)