The thesis (or dissertation) is a detailed description of a student’s research in the department and “presented in partial fulfillment of the Ph.D. degree”. It is considered an official publication, thus it must be substantial, verifiable, defensible, and presented in a logical and understandable fashion. It is up to the student and the major advisor to determine (or “negotiate”) when each student is ready to write a final draft of the thesis. A good rule of thumb is that once a student becomes "the world expert" in a well-defined specific field, and is ready to tell the world (or at least others at OSU) that this is the case, this student is ready to defend a thesis.

In many cases, the chapters in a thesis will be composed of papers that have been published or are submitted to journals. In cooperation with the major professor it is determined what parts of these publications are to be included in a thesis. Ongoing work is often included in an Appendix. It is completely appropriate to present experimental approaches in more detail than for a typical scientific paper (the thesis is a repository of knowledge for the lab and for students who will follow). It is also appropriate to mention approaches that “did not work”, or results that would not even be supplemental data in a normal published paper.

The way a thesis looks is defined by the OSU Graduate School and can change over time. It is best to consult the guidelines before students begin the final formatting; please see the Online Thesis Guide (4) (PDF). Students MUST follow the guidelines in this pdf. The copy of the thesis that is submitted to the committee and the Graduate School prior to the final exam is called the “examination copy”. This is not meant to be a rough draft. It should be the almost finished, final copy before the committee recommends changes. The idea is that only minor additions or changes should be necessary at this point.

Students have six weeks after the final oral exam to incorporate required or suggested changes made by the committee and polish the thesis before submitting the final document to the Graduate School. Requirements for this change; currently these are:

  1. one unsigned electronic copy to be deposited in the ScholarsArchive,
  2. one signed electronic copy to be submitted to the Graduate School, as well as one signed hard copy of an ETD Thesis Submission Form along with the title page of the thesis. Two hard copies of the thesis can be printed for free at Student Multimedia Services in the library. Nevertheless, always check the Graduate School web pages regarding thesis requirements before you finalize your documents (

In addition, the Department requires that all graduate students provide a professionally bound copy of their dissertation or thesis for placement in the BB library. The cost for this BB library copy is the responsibility of the student.