School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine

Final Dissertation Defense

The Ph.D. Dissertation Document
The dissertation should be selected and planned with care; it may be of a research, expository or critical nature. It must be an original work, in or related to the student's major field of specialization. Work submitted for credit in other courses cannot be used in fulfilling dissertation requirements. Neither the results of the research nor the publication of findings may be restricted by any non-University agency. The results of the research may be published prior to submission and acceptance of the dissertation, with the approval of the dissertation adviser. Members of a doctoral dissertation advisory committee must read, approve and sign the dissertation. Such approval includes all academic and professional evaluations and judgments as to originality, adequacy, accuracy, significance, methodology, justification or conclusions and correctness of style. Approval shall not be recorded until the work and manuscripts are fully verified and accepted.

Inclusion of Publications in the Dissertation
In such instances where doctoral students have published work in discipline-appropriate refereed journals, and when the doctoral committee approves, these published materials may be incorporated into the dissertation. For papers so included, the student must be the principal author and/or have made the major contribution to the published work. In cases of co-authored material, the text of the dissertation must make clear (e.g., in the summary and conclusion) to the reader the original contribution of the author. If published materials are included, references to them in the other dissertation sections may not need to be as detailed as is required in dissertations which do not incorporate published materials. When a co-author is someone other than the candidate and the adviser, it is recommended that permission to include the publication in the dissertation be secured from the other author(s). Students are advised that incorporation of materials published elsewhere requires permission of the copyright holder.

Dissertation Format Check
Candidates are instructed to follow closely the Graduate School regulations governing the format of the dissertation. Format requirements and format templates are available on the Graduate School website. Before proceeding to the Defense stage, the student must submit the dissertation to the Graduate School for a format check. The dissertation may be submitted electronically to or as hard copy. The dissertation format and appearance must be acceptable to the Graduate School before the Dissertation Public Lecture Presentation-Defense shall be authorized. The Graduate School Ph.D. Office staff is available to assist advisers and students who have format questions or problems.

Graduate Application for Degree
Each candidate for a degree or certificate must file a Graduate Application for Degree by the end of the fourth week of classes in the semester in which he/she expects to complete the requirements for the degree (usually beginning of October for Fall semester and beginning of February for Winter semester- consult the Academic Calendar). If an application for a degree was filed for a previous term in which the student did not graduate, a new application is necessary.

Committee Certification of the Ph.D. Dissertation Document
Two weeks before the planned Defense, each dissertation advisory committee member must have certified in writing, via the Dissertation Public Lecture Presentation-Defense Final Report form, that the dissertation has been read and approved for the Defense. The Defense cannot be scheduled without such certification. It is the student’s responsibility to communicate this information to the Graduate School.

Graduate Examiner
The Graduate Examiner is the presiding officer at the Defense and is responsible for its conduct. Representing the Graduate Council and the Graduate School, the Graduate Examiner serves as an advocate for the student. The dissertation adviser serves as the Graduate Examiner, but the student (or any committee member) may request that the Graduate School appoint a Graduate Examiner from outside the committee. The Graduate Director may be appointed to serve as Graduate Examiner.

Doctoral Dissertation Public Lecture Presentation-Defense
The Doctoral Dissertation Public Lecture Presentation-Defense has three phases, as follows:

  1. Public Lecture Presentation-Defense: In the public lecture or presentation, the candidate is expected to share the results of his or her dissertation research with the audience and the dissertation committee. This lecture or presentation is usually 45-60 minutes. At the end of this public lecture or presentation, members of the audience, as well as the dissertation committee members, are encouraged to direct questions pertaining to the presentation or research to the candidate. The Graduate Examiner moderates the questioning.
  2. Dissertation Committee's Meeting with the Candidate: At the conclusion of the public presentation and defense, the dissertation committee members will meet privately with the candidate to pose further questions about the candidate's research or to address issues related to the dissertation manuscript. The Graduate Examiner presides at this meeting.
  3. Evaluation of the Candidate's Performance: Upon the completion of the public presentation and defense and the private meeting, the dissertation committee members, in the absence of the candidate and the audience, discuss the candidate's performance and decide whether or not he/she has passed the defense. The Graduate Examiner chairs the discussion and communicates the result to the candidate, and subsequently, to the Graduate School via the Dissertation Public Lecture Presentation-Defense Final Report form.

If the candidate fails the Defense, the advisor and committee will submit to the Graduate School and the College written description of the areas of weakness and what the student has been instructed to do to correct these. If the candidate will need to make extensive corrections to the manuscript (ones requiring more than ten days), he/she will not be passed. Candidates must wait one semester before holding another defense. The second defense shall be considered final.

Submission of Approved Dissertation
The submission of the approved dissertation concludes work pursuant to the doctoral degree. In essence such manuscripts represent a tangible summation of the many hours spent in study and research to acquire a higher education. For this reason such scholarly documents must evidence only the highest standards of research and writing. They must show consistency in punctuation, style and format. It is official policy that acceptance of a dissertation, as well as certification of a candidate for a degree, shall not be granted unless a manuscript is technically correct in format and in a form suitable in all respects for publication. Within two weeks after the Defense, the corrected dissertation must be submitted. Manuscripts may be submitted electronically to or in hard copy, CD or diskette format (in Adobe PDF read-only format) to the Ph.D. Office of the Graduate School. The signature page must also be submitted to the Graduate School. To insure publication, doctoral candidates are assessed a fee and the University arranges to have the dissertation published. Filing a Doctoral Dissertation Publishing Agreement form is required. Copyright service, provided by Proquest, is available upon request. The student shall pay the amount necessary to cover the cost of copyrighting. Students wishing to obtain bound dissertation copies for personal use must select a bindery and pay the binding charges.

Degree Certification, Graduation & Commencement
Information regarding completion of additional forms is available from the Graduate School office and website. The Ph.D. degree will be certified only upon receipt of the approved dissertation and the reconciliation of the student's Plan of Work and transcripts. Each candidate for a degree or certificate must file a Graduate Application for Degree by the end of the fourth week of classes in the semester in which he/she expects to complete the requirements for the degree. Consult the Calendar, Academic, 2008 - 2010. If an application for a degree was filed for a previous term in which the student did not graduate, a new application is necessary. Information concerning commencement announcements, caps and gowns, invitations, tickets, time and place, assembling and other relevant items will be mailed to the graduates by the Commencement Office prior to the event. Candidates for advanced degrees are requested and expected to attend the commencement at which the University confers upon them the honor of the degree earned.

Final Dissertation Defense Form