Doctoral thesis

The PhD thesis proposal

A PhD thesis proposal is required of all PhD students after passing the comprehensive examinations, and before proceeding to data collection. The proposal should contain a detailed statement of the research problem and its significance for a body of leisure-related theory, a precise account of the methodology or research techniques to be employed, plus a detailed outline of the proposed data analyses. The candidate will be required to present and defend this proposal before the thesis committee.

Each student needs to think about a thesis topic and approach a faculty member who might be an appropriate supervisor for his or her research. Faculty members in the Department are involved in a wide range of basic, disciplinary, and applied research studies, providing students with many opportunities for choice with respect to thesis topics (see examples of previous doctoral thesis titles), as well as methodological and disciplinary approaches.

The PhD Thesis Proposal form is available on UW Learn.

The PhD thesis committee

The PhD thesis advisory committee is comprised of the Supervisor and two committee members who normally will be drawn from faculty members of the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies. The proposal will be defended before the thesis committee; however, upon completion of the thesis, the final document will be defended before a five person Examination Board made up of the Supervisor, three other members of the University community (two of whom are normally the advisory committee members and one other individual from outside the home department), and an external examiner.

Ethics approval

For many students, data collection for their thesis project involves surveys, interviews, or other interactions with study participants. This means that ethical approval must be requested from the Office of Research Ethics. The request for ethical approval should be submitted to the Office of Research Ethics as soon as possible after the thesis proposal has been accepted and prior to the start of data collection.

Guidelines for integrated thesis format

PhD students in the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies have the option of structuring their dissertation in a traditional, monograph format or in an integrated thesis format.

The monograph format is a sole-authored document that consists of several chapters. The specific structure and substance of various chapters within the monograph can vary and should reflect the student’s philosophical, theoretical, and/or methodological frameworks. Students should consult their supervisor and supervisory committee in determining how to organize this style of dissertation.

The integrated thesis format includes a compilation of chapters that are each structured similarly to a journal article. Dissertations following this format should also include introduction and conclusion chapters that contextualize the articles within the student’s broader PhD research. Students wishing to pursue the integrated thesis format must have the approval of their supervisor and supervisory committee.

Regardless of the format, all dissertations must adhere to the thesis formatting requirements of the University of Waterloo.

Final thesis defence

Once the written thesis is ready to be defended, the student is responsible for finding a date, time, and location that is acceptable for all committee members, and informing the Associate Chair for Graduate Studies, allowing four weeks for a committee chair to be appointed.

The Faculty Graduate Studies Coordinator assists with the final thesis defence requirements. The thesis must be put on display and be distributed to committee members at least five weeks prior to the defence date.

Changes following the defence exam

Changes may be required to the thesis after the defence exam. Once these changes have been completed, the Thesis Acceptance Examination Form will be signed and the thesis is ready for final submission. Students should also complete the End of Program Checklist prior to Graduation.

Publishing research findings

Students are encouraged to publish their research findings. This includes publishing thesis and other research in academic and professional journals, as well as presenting at conferences. Sometimes students are unsure how to initiate this process, and, in particular, may not be sure what the role of their faculty supervisor should be. Thus, the following Guide for Graduate Research and Supervision at the University of Waterloo (PDF) has been developed to assist students and faculty in reaching mutually satisfactory agreements in terms of joint authorship of research papers and presentations.