According to the Carleton Graduate Calendar, the Doctoral Thesis must report, in an organized and scholarly fashion, the results of original research. The thesis must be a contribution to knowledge and must demonstrate the ability to conceptualize, design, and implement research for the generation of new knowledge, applications, or understanding at the forefront of the discipline, and to adjust the research design or methodology in the light of unforeseen problems. All contributions must be clearly identified in the initial chapter of the thesis (and ideally summarized in the Abstract and in the conclusions of the thesis). Any form of plagiarism makes the thesis unacceptable. All claims, particularly those pertaining to the originality, significance, correctness, and validation of the results, must be supported (through proper argumentation, formal proofs, references, etc.). Scholarship, that is an in-depth understanding of the published state-of-the-art in the relevant research field, must also be demonstrated. For this purpose, a section or chapter summarizing and discussing the state-of-the-art and detailed bibliography is recommended. Throughout the thesis, all writings and works of others must be properly identified and referenced. Plagiarism of any sort (e.g., in the form of unreferenced paraphrasing or quoting) constitutes a serious academic offence. The Thesis Supervisor(s) have the right to refuse a thesis that does not meet the standard of quality discussed above or is poorly written (i.e. formatting or English grammar and spelling). It is the responsibility of the student to ensure that a well-written and grammatically correct thesis is submitted on time.

A thesis must be submitted and successfully defended at an oral examination within the time limits of the program. The expected completion time for the doctoral program is nine to twelve terms from the initial registration. A thesis can only be submitted after all the other program requirements are satisfied (including that of the seminars, courses, proposal, comprehensive). Each student is responsible for ensuring that they have satisfied all the other program requirements. Once registered in COMP 6909, a student must maintain continuous registration until completion. Failure to do so may result in a loss of status as a graduate student.

There are numerous links to follow to grasp various aspects of a Doctoral Thesis. The SCS follows the rules, guidelines, procedures, requirements, deadlines, academic integrity, formatting instructions of theses, including citations, illustrations, title page, abstract, summary, etc., as set out by the FGPA. These can be easily found by following the appropriate links on the FGPA websites under Thesis Requirements. Please bookmark that link – you must visit it and keep doing so until you defend your thesis! There are some additional sets of procedures followed in our school, and they will be detailed here. There are many relevant and very popular workshops which are organized by FGPA to assist you in writing and presentation of research. Please make use of these workshops.

For details on the Thesis Examination, it is best to consult the Thesis Examination Policy and Thesis Policy Forms on the FGPA website. The material here is adapted from these documents in the context of our school.

Note that in Computer Science, it is often the case that the Thesis will include some published articles by the student, and there may be co-authors associated with these publications. Carleton has a fairly detailed Integrated Thesis Policy, and if your Thesis may have such content, it is best to refer to Section 12.4 of General Regulations of the Graduate Calendar.

Constitution of the Thesis Examination Board:

Membership of the Examination Board includes:

  • An External Examiner from outside of Carleton University and the University of Ottawa who is a recognized authority in the subject of the thesis and who has no conflict of interest with the candidate and the supervisor(s).
  • An Internal Examiner from a department other than that of the candidate and who has been at arm’s length from the thesis research
  • An EECS-OCICS Member from the University of Ottawa
  • An SCS OCICS Member (can be from the Thesis Advisory Committee other than Supervisor(s))
  • Thesis Supervisor(s)
  • Chair

The Thesis Supervisor initiates the process of the formation of the Examination Board. After identifying the Board Members, the Thesis Supervisor informs the Graduate Administrator, the Graduate Director, and the Director (SCS) about the possible composition of the Board. After consultation with the Thesis Supervisor(s), the Director (SCS) recommends membership of the Thesis Examination Board to the Dean of FGPA. The Director (SCS) is also provided the abbreviated CV and justification for the appropriateness of the nominated external examiner in terms of expertise and conflict of interest.

Logistics: Formation of the Board and scheduling of the defence is a fairly elaborate process, and several administrative bodies are involved, including SCS, FGPA, Video Conferencing, and Scheduling. The whole process is initiated by the Thesis Supervisor(s) by submitting the PhD Thesis Defence Committee Specification Form. Note that this form is due to the Graduate Administrator at least eight weeks before the defence can actually take place. Very recently, FGPA has automated some of the aspects of thesis submission via Carleton Central, and hence it is important to follow those steps as well. Please consult Electronic Thesis Deposit, where the student will upload the examination copy of the thesis and some relevant forms, and then the Thesis Supervisor, Graduate Director, SCS Director, and the Dean of FGPA are asked to sign off electronically.

Thesis Submission Process: The student informs the Graduate Administrator, the Graduate Director, the Director of SCS, and the Thesis Supervisor(s), via an e-mail, at least two weeks in advance of the date they intend to submit the thesis. The student is expected to submit an electronic copy (and hard copies depending on the requirements of the Examination Board members) of the Thesis at least six weeks in advance of the actual date of the examination of the thesis. Students are also required to submit the signed copy of the Academic Integrity Statement- Thesis Submission with the Thesis. Student submits the thesis to their Thesis Supervisor(s). The Supervisor(s) forwards the approved copy of the Thesis to the Graduate Administrator. Only after receiving all these documents, the Graduate Secretary forwards the Thesis to all the members of the Examination Board. Please strictly follow this pathway, or else with Electronic Submissions, we have many different versions of the Thesis floating around, and all the Board members may not have the same version of the Thesis to examine! In addition to this, please also consult Electronic Thesis Deposit. The student will upload the examination copy of the thesis and some of the relevant forms via Carleton Central. Note that this process is very new (started in Nov. 2014), and once it stabilizes, all the manual forms in the school will be replaced by the online versions. But for time being, we will follow both processes.

Scheduling of the Examination: The Thesis Supervisor(s) coordinates with all the members of the Examination Board (except the Chair) to arrive at a date for the Examination. This is communicated by the Thesis Supervisor to the Graduate Administrator through the PhD. Thesis Defence Committee Specification Form, as mentioned above. Upon receipt of this form and all other documents (Thesis, Thesis Defence Authorization form, Academic Integrity Statement, etc.), the Graduate Administrator prepares a Notice of Thesis Examination. The Graduate Administrator forwards a copy of the Thesis, a copy of the Notice of the Thesis Examination, a copy of the Thesis Examination Committee Member Instructions Letter, and the Committee Member Thesis Defence Authorization Form to all the members of the Board except the External Examiner. The School forwards to the Dean FGPA a copy of the Thesis, Notice of Thesis Examination, and the Departmental Chair/Thesis Supervisor Thesis Defence Authorization Form. The School may also forward a copy of the thesis to the External Examiner as directed by the Dean FGPA.

The Dean of FGPA writes to the external examiner to review procedures followed in the defence, to outline judgments to be made and to ask that any major concerns be communicated in the report to be submitted at least one week in advance of the examination.

Note that only after the receipt of all the relevant documents by the Dean of FGPA does the Dean announce the date, time, and place of the examination. Any special arrangements for the participation of the examiners (telephone, video-conferencing, etc.) are included in the examination notice. As directed by the Dean FGPA, the date of this announcement must be at least four weeks in advance of the date of the examination. Please respect all these deadlines.

The Examination: Please consult the document on Thesis Examination Policy for a very detailed overview of how the whole examination runs. This includes an in-camera session, the oral presentation, two rounds of questioning on the thesis, closing statements by the student, deliberations on the grades for Thesis and Oral Examination, and the outcome. Note that the outcome of this examination is whether the Oral Defence is Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory; whether the Thesis is Accepted, Acceptable after minor revisions, Acceptable after major modifications, or Rejected; and whether the Thesis grade is Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory. Please consult the Thesis Examination Policy document to understand what these grades mean.

Final Submission: Thesis and Oral grades have further implications in terms of the submission of the final copy of the Thesis. Eventually, when the Thesis is ready after addressing all the minor and/or major changes, as required by the Examination Board, the student uploads the Thesis to Carleton Central for approval by the Thesis Supervisor(s). Once the Supervisor(s) approves the Thesis, it is forwarded to FGPA. If FGPA determines that the student has fulfilled all the requirements of the Ph.D., FGPA transfers the Thesis to the Carleton Library and recommends to the Senate through the Faculty Board of Graduate Studies that the degree be awarded to the student. Please do refer to the document on Thesis Examination Policy for all the logistics.