Developing a Thesis or Dissertation
A scholarly thesis or dissertation is an extended,
written treatment of a subject, prepared as the culmination of the master’s or
doctoral program. It should give evidence of your technical and intellectual
mastery of the field of study, as well as your capability to perform original,
Both thesis and dissertations are subject to close
scrutiny by scholars and laymen alike. They provide permanent, tangible evidence
of the scholarly achievements and standards of the author, the advisor, and The
University of Alabama. To a large degree, the reputation and quality of the
University’s graduate program are measured by the quality of the theses and
dissertations developed at this institution.
Use of Copyrighted Material
When writing a thesis or dissertation, you must be
careful in using copyrighted materials. Generally speaking, you may make limited
use of short passages from copyrighted material if proper credit is given to the
owner of the copyright. Extensive use of the copyright, however, requires
permission of the copyright owner. Permission to use copyrighted material in
scholarly works is usually granted without payment or compensation to the
copyright owner, but not always.
If the copyright owner grants permission to use
the material, a letter of release must be obtained and included in the appendix
of your manuscript. Likewise, the copyright owner should be given credit in the
acknowledgments of your manuscript.
Under the copyright Law of 1976 (Title 17 of the
United States Code), copyright for a work is automatically granted at the time
of its creation; neither registration nor publication is required to secure a
copyright. Registration, however, is often desirable as it provides a public
record of a copyright claim and is usually required before a suit for copyright
infringement can be initiated. Consult with your major professor to decide
whether or not to register a copyright for your thesis or dissertation. More
information on including registering your copyright can be found in the
publishing agreements which can be obtained from the Graduate School office and
from the Proquest web site.
Protection of Human Subjects
Scientific research using human subjects has
produced ample benefits, but it also produced some troublesome ethical
questions. The University of Alabama’s Institutional Review Board’s mission is
to ensure that research with humans is conducted lawfully and ethically manner.
In order to comply with University and federal policies, submit all proposals
for research with humans to the appropriate college’s human research review
committee for review and approval before beginning your research.
Any IRB certification should be included in the final appendix of your
All acts of dishonesty in any work constitute
academic misconduct, including cheating, plagiarism, fabrication of information,
and the like. Any form of academic misconduct will not be tolerated. As a
researcher, you will be held to the highest professional standards.
For more information on the official policy on
academic misconduct, including established disciplinary measures, refer to The
University of Alabama Student Affairs Handbook, which is available in the Office
of Student Life in the Ferguson Center and on the university’s website.
ETD vs. Paper Formatting
same formatting and content requirements continue to apply. However,
for ETD submissions the following important changes should be noted:
1. No signed abstract for dissertations:
For paper submissions, the Graduate School requires a signed
abstract that does not form part of the document but is retained
in the student’s file in Graduate School office. This is no
longer required for ETD submission – for security reasons we do
not want original signatures to appear online from where they
may be easily reproduced. The student will copy the abstract
into the appropriate section of the online submission.
2. No signed acceptance page ii:
As above, for security reasons the acceptance page (now called
Committee Acceptance Form) will not be part of the ETD
submission and is omitted from both theses and dissertations.
Students are now required to download and complete a separate
form that must be delivered to the Graduate School separately
and will be the place for official, original signatures of the
committee members. Please see the new form “Committee Acceptance
Form for Electronic Thesis or Dissertation” at:
3. Regular abstract now required for both theses
and dissertations: This will be moved to the first page of the document
following the copyright page and will become page ii in ETD
4. All page margins will be 1 inch:
Unlike paper theses and dissertations, the left margin for ETDs
does not need to be wider to meet binding requirements; thus,
all margins—including left—need to be 1-inch wide in ETDs.
5. First page of each preliminary section
and first page of every chapter or major section of the document
must have a 2-inch margin.
This can be achieved by simply tabbing down the page two inches
before starting to type these pages.
6. Page numbers all bottom-center of page:
For ETDs, all page numbers are located bottom-center of page,
BUT see next point.
7. Page ordering for both theses and dissertations
submitted electronically: Roman numerals for the preliminary pages and Arabic
numerals for the main manuscript, with the first page of chapter
1 being page number 1. ETD page order is as follows:
page: No number.
page: No number, but is in fact number i.
Required, new location, no signatures, now becomes page ii.
Page number is at bottom-center.
Optional. If included, is page iii.
of Abbreviations or Symbols: Required when non-standard
abbreviations or symbols used, page iv (or next in sequence).
Required, page v (or next in sequence).
of Contents: Required. Must list all previous pages
(except title and copyright) and subsequent pages with
respective page numbers. Page vi (or next in sequence). DO
NOT INCLUDE TABLE OF CONTENTS IN ITSELF!
of Tables: Required, page vii (or next in sequence).
List of Figures: Required, page viii (or next in
of Illustrations: Required only if illustrations are
used, page ix (or next in sequence).
1: Page number 1 in document.
8. Broadside Tables, etc:
For paper submissions, the table had to be turned and then the
relevant page number was inserted as if page were portrait
oriented. For ETDs, the page simply can be oriented landscape,
and the page number can be inserted at the bottom of the page in
9. Revised Sample Preliminary Pages:
See the new ETD version of preliminary pages sample on the website at:
10. New Word Document Template:
There is a new ETD Word document template on the web site. The
template can be downloaded and saved to your own PC. It is
formatted for you for margins, page numbering, etc. It is at:
manuscript will continue to conform to the general formatting and
style requirements of an acceptable style guide.