GUIDE TO CREATING YOUR DISSERTATION
These guidelines summarize the steps you will follow to prepare for, write and submit a dissertation in the College of Education & Human Development. You are responsible for the content of your dissertation, which must be your original work, and for ensuring the document is appropriately referenced and in the correct format. The content and format must be approved by your dissertation chair and committee. You will be responsible for uploading your approved dissertation to ScholarWorks.
This guide provides specific formatting requirements for the preparation and submission of official graduate prospectuses and/or dissertations in the College of Education & Human Development at Georgia State University. These guidelines are intended to provide a uniform style to which graduate College of Education & Human Development prospectus and dissertations must adhere. Students should conform to the convention of the discipline’s style manual and to the detailed editorial advice of the major advisor and Dissertation Advisory Committee.
Prospectus & Dissertation Committee: Committee Selection
Before approval of the prospectus, the student and the student’s advisor will recommend the formation of the Dissertation Advisory Committee.
The Dissertation Advisory Committee aids each student in developing the dissertation prospectus and later the dissertation. The committee is responsible for judging the significance and acceptability of the dissertation prospectus, the soundness and acceptability of the dissertation, and the competence and acceptability of the students’ oral defense of the dissertation.
Dissertation Advisory Committee must be composed of four members. For Ph.D. students and three members for Ed.D. students. The majority of the committee, including the committee chair, must hold graduate research faculty status in the College of Education & Human Development. Faculty with approved Joint Academic Appointments and University Graduate Research Faculty Membership can serve as the chair of a Ph.D. Dissertation Advisory Committee.
The prospectus is a research proposal describing how the doctoral student intends to conduct an inquiry appropriate for dissertation research. The resulting Dissertation Advisory Committee should represent expertise in both the area of the research topic and the proposed research methodology and consist of no fewer than four members with earned doctorates, which means that at least three Dissertation Advisory Committee members must be College of Education & Human Development faculty who hold graduate faculty research status or approved by reciprocal agreements between colleges and schools, which recognizes each other’s graduate research faculty.
Any proposed member of the Dissertation Advisory Committee not meeting these requirements must be approved by the associate dean of Graduate Studies and Research. Faculty with approved joint academic appointments and university graduate professional faculty membership can serve as the chair of an Ed.D. dissertation committee. A second member of the Doctoral Advisory Committee must be a full-time member of the College of Education & Human Development faculty (or have a joint appointment) holding an earned doctorate. A third member of the Doctoral Advisory Committee is an individual who can support the student’s dissertation research. The third member must also hold an earned doctorate.
Any part-time Instructor in the College of Education & Human Development or member outside of the College must be approved by the associate dean of Graduate Studies and Research. All Committee members must hold a terminal degree.
All appointments to the Doctoral Advisory Committee, including its chair, are subject to approval by each student, the department chair, and the associate dean for Graduate Studies and Research of the College of Education & Human Development. After the Doctoral Advisory Committee has been established, the committee, student, department chair and the associate dean for Graduate Studies and Research must approve any subsequent change of membership.
The prospectus provides the student’s committee members an opportunity to provide input, recommendations and directions before the study has commenced. Each student must orally present his or her prospectus to the Dissertation Advisory Committee. Please note: if the inquiry involves human participants, then a completed Protection of Human Subjects form must be submitted to the Institutional Review Board.
Scheduling the Prospectus
To schedule the prospectus the student submits an original signed Announcement of Prospectus Presentation to the associate dean for Graduate Studies and Research AND emails one copy of the prospectus to [email protected] at least 15 calendar days prior to the presentation.
Recommendation to Candidacy
The student submits a completed Recommendation to Doctoral Candidacy form to the Office of Academic Assistance and Graduate Admissions upon successful presentation of the prospectus and all other requirements for doctoral candidacy. After a successful presentation of the prospectus, students may begin dissertation work.
Select a Format
The College of Education and Human Development accepts dissertations in two formats: a traditional format or a review and research format. The student and the advisory committee must agree on the dissertation format.
The traditional format is designed to present empirical inquiry, qualitative investigations, or historical-philosophical scholarship in a professional manner in keeping with the college’s standards of significance and academic rigor. Each student who produces a dissertation adhering to this format must address specific areas and organize the dissertation so that the text demonstrates the author’s. The five required areas for a traditional-format dissertation (which are typically presented as chapters) are:
introduction of the problem, including a description of its significance
review of the literature
description of the research methodology
presentation of the results
discussion and analysis of the results of the study in light of existing knowledge and of implications of the results on future research in the field
The student may include additional chapters or divide one or more of the identified areas into multiple chapters in the manner that he or she and the Dissertation Advisory Committee believe best present the results of the dissertation inquiry.
Review & Research Format
The Review and Research Format results in a comprehensive literature review manuscript (part one or chapter one) and a focused research manuscript. The literature review is a broadly conceived comprehensive review that is not limited by the more narrowly defined inquiry of the research manuscript. Some of the topics covered in the literature review manuscript will be referred to in the research manuscript to provide background for the original inquiry presented in the research manuscript. The review manuscript Table of Contents provided in the appendix provides guidance regarding the content of the review.
The research manuscript is a research article written in a format appropriate for submission to a scholarly journal. It is recommended (although not required) that a scholarly journal to which the manuscript could be submitted be identified prior to completion of the dissertation. The organization of the research manuscript will follow the expectations of the field as represented by articles in scholarly journals. Before the student is admitted to candidacy, the Dissertation Advisory Committee must approve the use of the review and research format. At the discretion of the student’s committee, an introductory section or chapter can also be included in the review and research format dissertation. This section functions in the same way as the first chapter of a traditional format dissertation. In it, the student identifies an unmet need, describes the problem to be investigated, and indicates the method of inquiry. This chapter links the review manuscript to the research manuscript.
The committee may establish additional requirements. These requirements may change depending on the nature of the questions being investigated, the field of study, the nature of the student’s methodology, or the nature of the results of the investigations.
Styles: Headings and Generated Table of Contents
Formatting Requirements, Fonts & Margins
Regardless of the style used, the final draft of the dissertation must comply with all the requirements described in this formatting guide. The student is responsible in the preparation of the dissertation for proofreading and editing the final version of the document, thus it is ultimately the responsibility of the student to present for approval a document of professional quality which is free of errors. The Office of Academic Assistance and Graduate Admissions does not prescribe a particular style of writing, but departments and committee members often do. Students must consult their committee chair to determine the internal arrangement within the text and reference sections, and on matters of style. The following sections specify the general format and organization that must be followed in preparing the final copy of the dissertation.
All pages of a dissertation must be printable on the standard U.S. paper size: 8.5 x 11 inches.
Margins must be consistent throughout the document (they should be exactly the same on each page of the same type). Centering is always done relative to the text area (i.e., within the margins), not the page edge.
Side Margins: The left and right margin must be set at 1 inch for all pages. EXCEPTION: If submitting a copy for binding, the student will need to change the left margin to 1.5 inches on the printed copy only. Please note, the minimum one-inch side margin applies to the tables, figures and schemes as well.
Top Margin: The top margin must be set at a minimum of 1 inch for all pages. The student may elect to use a 1.75 inch top margin on the preliminary pages as well as the first page of each chapter.
Bottom Margin: The bottom margin must be set at 1 inch. The text must not fall below the one-inch bottom margin, including footnotes when they appear at the bottom of the page. EXCEPTION: Page numbers inserted into the footer may fall below the one-inch margin.
The justification of the dissertation is left justified resulting in a “ragged-right,” with the type aligned on the left and unjustified on the right. Fully justified documents create additional spacing between words which can be excessive and often deters readability of the text.
The acceptance page, author’s statement, notice to borrowers, vita, abstract, title page, copyright notice and electronic approval page should not physically display a page number. The first page of the document that should physically display a page number should be the acknowledgments (it may also be the table of contents if there are no acknowledgments). This page will show a Roman numeral ii. Subsequent preliminary pages will be assigned consecutive Roman numerals (iii, iv,v…). The first page of the introduction or first chapter will begin with an Arabic numeral 1. The subsequent text will then be assigned consecutive Arabic numerals (2, 3, 4…).
Placement of page numbers must be consistent throughout the document, whether they are roman numbers in the preliminary pages or Arabic numbers in the text. Page numbers can be inserted in the top right-hand corner of the header, or in the bottom center or right-hand corner of the footer. Do not insert page numbers in the left side of the header or footer. Regardless of the placement of the page number chosen, the page number can be suppressed on the first page of sections and Chapters.
Page numbering for landscape-oriented pages must be set for the best on-screen readability, thus page numbers should appear in the correct position (consistent with the position of other page numbers) when the page is viewed on a screen. This is usually what word processing software does by default when pages are changed to landscape layout within a document. NOTE: Landscape pages are turned so that they are portrait-oriented in bound copies, thus if the department requires a bound copy, a change in the location of the page number may be warranted in a printed version only.
The body of the thesis or dissertation, the abstract and the acknowledgments must be double spaced. Single spacing is allowed only in the following text:
- abstract index words
- block quotations
- tables and figures and their captions
- bibliography entries (if single-spaced, double-space between entries)
Font Size: The body of the dissertation, the abstract and the acknowledgments must be in 12-point font. No font size smaller or larger than 12-point is acceptable throughout the body of the dissertation. A smaller font size is permitted only in the following cases: footnotes, subscripts, tables, figures, documents reproduced illustratively and portions of the main text where the content absolutely requires a different font (e.g., computer code, different voices in a dialogue, etc).
Font Type: The entire dissertation, including figure and table captions and all page numbers, must be typed in Times New Roman. Non-typical or non-standard fonts may not survive the conversion into PDF format or may cause the document to be excessively large.
Headings and Subheadings
The Office of Academic Assistance and Graduate Admissions does not set specific style standards for the format of chapter headings and subheadings except for font size. Students should refer to the standards set by their department’s choice of the style manual. Regardless of the formatting style chosen, The Office of Academic Assistance and Graduate Admissions does require that the style be applied consistently to all headings and subheadings throughout the document.
Widows and Orphans
No heading or subheading can appear at the bottom of a page with less than two lines of text underneath. If this occurs, the heading must be pushed to the top of the next page. In addition, the first or last line of a paragraph cannot be isolated by a page break.
Tables and Figures
All figures and tables must fit within the margins described earlier in the manual. Large tables and figures must be reduced in size in order to meet the margin requirements however, captions and page numbers should still appear at a normal size. Tables and figures may be rotated 90 degrees so that the bottom of the table or figure runs along the right edge of the page.
Numbering: Figures and tables must be uniquely numbered in one of the following two manners:
- consecutive numbering throughout the thesis/dissertation
- associated chapter and figure/table number designation, e.g., Figure 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, etc.
Placement: A table or figure may be in one of the following positions:
- embedded in the text (should not have excessive blank space above or below the figure/table)
- placed on a separate page immediately following the text where it is first cited (no extra space should be left at the bottom of the previous page
- the text should run continuously), at the end of its respective chapter
- tables and figures should not be found entirely at the end of the document
Table Captions: The number and caption of a table must be placed above the table. The table and the associated caption must appear on the same page as the table. Captions must be formatted in a consistent style throughout the document.
Figure Captions: The number and caption of a figure must be placed below the figure OR on a separate page preceding the figure. Captions must be formatted in a consistent style throughout the document.
Treat the title of this section the same as those of all other sections/chapters. Format the entries according to the department’s or discipline’s choice of style manual.
Appendices should be placed after the bibliography. The appendices must fit within the required margins, even if they contain reproduced content or tables and figures. Appendices must be listed on the Table of Contents. If only one appendix is used, it should be titled “Appendix,” not “Appendix A.”
Journal Articles used as Chapters
In some departments, dissertations may include as chapters, articles that have been or will be submitted to scholarly journals. This is an acceptable style however, the student must be listed either as the sole author or the first co-author of each article used as a chapter. In addition, the general formatting requirements listed above also apply to articles used as chapters. The student MUST apply a consistent style in font, headings, subheadings, tables and figures throughout each article used as a chapter, as well as within the general introduction and conclusion.
Organization of the Dissertation
A College of Education & Human Development dissertation consists of three sections: the front matter, the dissertation text and the back matter. Listed below are the contents of each section, showing what pages should be included in the front matter and the order they should appear. This part of the guide describes the formatting requirements for each of these pages.
- Acceptance Page (required)
- Author’s Statement (required)
- Notice to Borrower’s (required)
- Curriculum Vitae (abbreviated to 2 pages)
- Abstract (required)
- Title Page (required)
- Copyright Page (required)
- Dedication (optional)
- Acknowledgments (optional, but *highly recommended*)
- Table of Contents (required)
- List of Tables (required if tables used)
- List of Figures (required if figures used)
- List of Abbreviations (optional)
The Acceptance Page is required in the dissertation but not in the prospectus. All text must fit on the front of a single page. (Text should be left justified only.)
Pagination: No page number.
The title of the dissertation and the author’s name are written in all capital letters. Do not capitalize “by” between the title and the author’s name. The Dissertation Advisory Committee must sign the acceptance page of the dissertation in blue ink, and the committee chair (major advisor) should indicate the date of acceptance. All names must be spelled correctly, and the student is responsible for obtaining the appropriate degree information (e.g., Ph.D., Ed.D.) for each member of the committee. The student is responsible for obtaining the signature of the Department Chair and the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research; the signatures must be in blue ink.
The Author’s Statement is required in the dissertation but not in the prospectus. (Text should be left justified only.) Pagination: No page number.
Notice to Borrowers
The Notice to Borrowers is required in the dissertation but not in the prospectus. (Text should be left justified only.) Pagination: No page number.
The Curriculum Vitae is required in the dissertation but not in the prospectus. Length: No more than two pages (text should be left justified only)
Pagination: No page number.
The purpose of including an abbreviated curriculum vitae is to provide evidence of the author’s credibility as a researcher and educational practitioner and to present some information on the author’s position as an expert in the topic area. Use the following guidelines to prepare the text of the student’s curriculum vitae: Education. List all degrees earned in reverse chronological order, beginning with the Ph.D. the student will receive upon completion of the student’s dissertation defense (and any other requirements). List the institution which granted the degree along with the student’s major. Do not list other information (e.g., “cum laude” or the student’s grade-point average) on the student’s abbreviated curriculum vitae. Do not list institutions where the student completed course work but did not earn a degree or certificate. Professional Experience. List recent full-time employment positions covering the past 10 years or the past 3 positions, whichever is longest. Part-time employment related to establishing credibility may also be included. Include the name of the student’s employer, its location, and the student’s current or last title held with the employer. Presentations and Publications. List recent presentations and publications, however, list these presentations in reverse chronological order rather than alphabetical order so that the most recent is at the top of the list. The student do not have to identify which entries are publications and which entries are presentations as the format of the item will indicate its type. Professional Societies and Organizations. List on-going and past memberships in professional societies and organizations, particularly those related to the student’s topic area.
The abstract is a statement of the problem, the procedure or methods, and the results and conclusions. The abstract must also include a list of index words related to the topic and which can be used to find the document when searching the library’s database. The Abstract is required in both the dissertation and the prospectus. The maximum word count for the abstract paragraph (not including the index words) is 350 words (not including the title and author’s name) for dissertations and it should be double-spaced. No page number is assigned to the abstract. If the student is using the review and research dissertation format, the student must create a single abstract that summaries both of the student’s manuscripts. Length: No more than two pages (text should be left justified only) Pagination: No page number.
The Title Page is required in both the dissertation and the prospectus. For the prospectus, replace “A Dissertation” with “A Prospectus” and use the year in which the prospectus presentation is made in place of the year the Ph.D. degree is to be conferred. The title page should not display a page number and MUST BE formatted precisely like the sample the year at the bottom of the title page is the graduation year. The title should be in reverse pyramid format if it stretches over more than one line of text. In reverse pyramid format, the first line is longer than the second line; the second line is longer than the third line if there is a third line; and the third line is longer than the fourth line if there is a fourth line. A title that requires five lines is probably too wordy. The date should appear as low on the page as possible. (text should be left justified only) Pagination: No page number.
Required only in the dissertation. The copyright page should not display a page number and MUST BE formatted precisely like the sample found in the appendix of this guide entitled “Sample Pages.” The student automatically owns the copyright on the dissertation. It is not necessary to register the copyright with the Library of Congress in order to protect the student’s exclusive right to the material in the document, but one may be obtained for an additional fee. For more information on registering a Library of Congress copyright, please contact the Office of Academic Advisement and Graduate Admissions. As the dissertation will be immediately accessible to researchers and readers on the internet, the student must demonstrate ownership of the manuscript by including the Copyright page in the dissertation.
By using this notice, the student establishes common law copyright, which identifies the student as the owner of the rights to the document.
Every dissertation must have the standard notice immediately after the Title Page. The Copyright Page indicates the author’s legal name as owner of the copyright and the year in which the manuscript is being published. (Date should appear as low on the page as possible.) Pagination: No page number. This is the first counted page, but no number appears on the page. Pagination appears (using lowercase Roman numerals) on the following page.
An Acknowledgments page is optional in the dissertation, and it does not appear in the prospectus. The Acknowledgments page should be single-spaced, and it should fit cleanly on the front of a single page. Length: One page (text should be left justified only) Pagination: Lowercase Roman numeral. This is page number ii.
Table of Contents
The Table of Contents is required in the prospectus and in the dissertation. The Table of Contents is the map to the student’s document. Each entry must match the corresponding entry in the text exactly in terms of wording, capitalization, punctuation, page number, etc. A complete Table of Contents, including correct page numbers for each of the entries is required for a format check. The Table of Contents should be formatted so that the page numbers for each of the entries align perfectly along the far right margin.
The Table of Contents should not appear as an entry on the Table of Contents. If the author has included an Acknowledgments page, then the numbering of the Table of Contents begins with iii; otherwise, it begins with ii.
The Table of Contents may be single-spaced; however, there should be a blank line before each chapter heading, between the listing of preliminary pages and the “Chapter” heading, and before “References.” Chapter titles should be listed in all-capital letters, just as they are in the body of the dissertation. Within each chapter, list the Level 1 headings in the Table of Contents. Length: Varies (page numbers should align smoothly at right margin) Pagination: Lowercase Roman numeral. This is page number ii or iii (see above)
Two sample Table of Contents are presented in the Appendices. The first uses the traditional format, and the second uses the review and research format. The samples are provided to show how the pages should be formatted; the content of the pages will match the dissertation content. A traditional format dissertation may have more than five chapters.
Page numbers within the Table of Contents must align precisely along the right margin of the page. In Microsoft Word, the student can use the Tabs feature (in the Paragraph menu) to set a right tab at 6” and indicate that it should have a period (…….) leader so that the numbers align correctly. Contact The Office of Academic Assistance and Graduate Admissions Doctoral Advisor if there are questions about aligning page numbers.
List of Tables
A list of tables in the prospectus is not required. If the dissertation contains any tables, a List of Tables page is required. The List of Tables must be formatted to match the Table of Contents. Each entry must match the corresponding entry in the text exactly in terms of wording, capitalization, punctuation, page number, etc. The List of Tables should be listed in the Table of Contents. Page numbers follow sequentially from the last page of the Table of Contents. The List of Tables should be double-spaced between headings; individual table headings may be single-spaced (if they go over more than one line). Length: Varies (page numbers should align smoothly at right margin) Pagination: Lowercase Roman numeral
List of Figures
A list of figures in the student’s prospectus is not required. If the dissertation contains any figures, a List of Figures page is required. The List of Figures must be formatted to match the Table of Contents. Each entry must match the corresponding entry in the text exactly in terms of wording, capitalization, punctuation, page number, etc. The List of Figures should be listed in the Table of Contents. The List of Figures should be double-spaced between figure titles; individual figure titles may be single-spaced (if they go over more than one line). The List of Figures should have the same presentation and style as the Table of Contents. Length: Varies (page numbers should align smoothly at right margin) Pagination: Lowercase Roman numeral
If abbreviations are used extensively in the text of the prospectus or dissertation, then an Abbreviations page is required. The Abbreviations page appears after the List of Figures. Page numbering follows sequentially from the last page of the List of Figures. Excessive use of Abbreviations can confuse the reader. Items appearing on the Abbreviations page should be listed alphabetically by abbreviation. The list of items should be double-spaced, although individual items may be single-spaced. Do not include common abbreviations on the Abbreviations page. Common abbreviations include Latin abbreviations used in parenthetical expressions, “vs.”, “ANOVA,” and “U.S.” Length: Varies (usually less than 1 page – text should be left justified only) Pagination: Lowercase Roman numeral
Text & Main Body
Introduction (if appropriate)
Main Text (divided into numbered chapters or sections)
The text of a traditional format dissertation should be divided into titled chapters. (See the appendices for a sample Table of Contents.) Chapters run continuously: They are not separated by blank or title sheets. A review and research dissertation should be divided into two titled chapters. The first chapter is the review article manuscript, and the title of the chapter is the title of the manuscript. The second chapter is the research article manuscript, and the title of the chapter is the title of the manuscript. Pagination of the main body begins with page 1, using Arabic numerals, and continues through to the end of the dissertation (including the appendices). The page number appears in the upper right corner of each page. Length: Varies (text should be left justified only) Pagination: Arabic numerals. Appears in the upper-right corner.
Endnotes (unless footnotes are used)
All references cited in the text must be included in the references list or the bibliography. All references appearing in the references list must appear in the text. A review and research format dissertation will have two references lists, one for each manuscript. Length: Varies (text should be left justified only) Pagination: Arabic numerals. Appears in the upper-right corner
Materials such as charts and other addenda that are not necessary to the text can be grouped as an appendix or appendices. If an appendix appears, it should follow the last page of the references list or bibliography in a traditional format dissertation and the last page of the references list for the research manuscript in a review and research format dissertation (even if appendix items are related to the review manuscript.)
If there is more than one appendix, the first appendix should be labeled “APPENDIX A.” Each appendix should have a short title identifying the contents of the appendix. If the student has more than one appendix, each appendix must begin on its own page. Examples of items that might appear in the appendices are interview protocols, data collection sheets, informed consent documents, and letters of permission to reprint copyrighted materials.