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Dissertation Procedures

The elements of the dissertation procedure are often confusing to students. The following narrative offers a description of the procedure. 

 

  • After conferring with the faculty mentor and securing agreement from committee members, students will file the form identifying their dissertation committee members with the PhD program coordinator as soon as the committee is formed. This enables planning and communicating to ensure timely progression through the dissertation phase of PhD studies. 
  • Following successful completion of the comprehensive exam, the student writes the first three chapters of the dissertation proposal. Sometimes the chair will read one chapter at a time and offer comments and sometimes all three chapters will be reviewed simultaneously by the chair. The chair collaborates with the student to set the pace and format for the dissertation proposal. Historical research is an example of a proposal that may use a different format. The dissertation committee chair will review the drafts and decide when the committee members will see a draft of the proposal. Students should plan that faculty will need 3 weeks to read each draft revision of a dissertation proposal. After faculty have read and commented on the draft, the student will make revisions and submit the next draft. The chair will communicate with committee members about when they think the student is ready to hold a hearing on the proposal 
  • The PhD coordinator should be notified when the hearing time is decided. The full committee will attend the hearing so that everyone agrees and has an opportunity to support the student’s research plan. An outcome to the dissertation hearing may be that the committee requires the student to submit additional drafts of the proposal, or it may be decided that the student can proceed with data collection. 
  • The student must obtain Institutional Review Board approval before any data are collected. 
  • The chair will oversee the dissertation research. When the dissertation research is completed, the chair will read and comment on drafts of the dissertation. When the chair decides that the full committee can receive the dissertation draft, the student sends the draft to the committee. Readers have three weeks to return comments to the student who then revises based on feedback from the full committee. The student then resubmits the full dissertation to the committee. The chair will poll the committee to determine the readiness of the dissertation for defense. Preparation of a defendable dissertation is an iterative and scholarly process that fully engages the dissertation chair and the student and then involves the entire committee. 
  • The timing of the dissertation defense should be reported to the PhD program coordinator, who will publicize the defense, a public event, open to all students and faculty. 
  • Following the dissertation defense, the student may have additional revisions that are required before the final version can be submitted to the Graduate College. The university has guidelines for format and paper type that are available on the graduate website. 

Dissertation Committee

After a student has passed the comprehensive examination, a dissertation committee shall be formed to supervise the student's research. The committee will consist of at least two graduate faculty members who are familiar with the research area. At least two committee members will be graduate faculty members from the College of Nursing. At least one member of the committee must be from outside the discipline of nursing (could also be from another institution or industry) and this member should have an academic or professional level compatible with the rest of the committee. The chair will be graduate faculty, members may be graduate faculty or associate graduate faculty (refer to Graduate College website for a list of graduate faculty). http://www.fau.edu/graduate/faculty-and-staff/graduate-faculty.php

 

If there are two nursing committee members (both graduate faculty members), it is mandatory that the committee member from outside the discipline of nursing (outside member) has graduate faculty status. When the outside member is not graduate faculty of FAU, it is the student’s responsibility to initiate the necessary paperwork for attaining graduate faculty status for that member. As the third member of a dissertation committee, the outside member must have either Graduate Faculty or Associate Graduate Faculty status from FAU. Refer to Form 1: Graduate Faculty Status Application for more information. If there is not sufficient time to obtain graduate faculty status for the committee member outside the discipline of nursing, three graduate faculty members from nursing must be on the dissertation committee in addition to the outside member. Questions about obtaining graduate faculty status should be directed to the PhD Coordinator. 

 

The committee is led by the student's dissertation chair. Students are expected to work in close cooperation with their dissertation chair and committee and keep committee members informed about their progress on a regular basis. 

Courses and Credits

Students are required to complete a minimum of 15 credits in the dissertation phase of their program. While the student is preparing the dissertation proposal, they should register with their dissertation chair for NGR 7979, Advanced Research. Once the dissertation proposal has been approved, they register with their chair for NGR 7980 "Dissertation". Students should limit their registration in NGR 7979 to a maximum of 6 credits in two semesters (3 each semester). The total credit hours for NGR 7979 and NGR 7980 will be a minimum of 15 credits. Students must receive a grade of satisfactory in each course.  The student must be registered for at least one credit in the semester in which they defend their dissertation. Students maintain good standing by registering for 2 of 3 semesters during any academic year.

Process for Change of Dissertation Committee Chair

Sometimes a need arises that requires the change of the dissertation chair. The student should discuss the need for a change in person with the current dissertation chair. The student may also initiate an informal discussion with the faculty who may be willing to accept this responsibility however no formal action should be taken without meeting with the current chair first. Once an agreement is formed, the student should seek final approval of this change from the director of the PhD Program through email. Next, the student will obtain new signatures on FAU Graduate College Form 9 “Revision to Existing Plan of Study” (available on the Graduate College website) indicating the new dissertation chair and any other changes in committee membership. Agreement to serve on a student’s dissertation committee is confirmed by the faculty signing Form 9. Note: Students need to be aware that changing a dissertation committee chair could result in temporary delays in progress towards graduation. The new dissertation committee chair will require time to become familiar with the student’s work and may require modification of the research plan.

There may be a circumstance which requires the chair to remove him/herself from the role as advisor and chair. Examples include faculty retirement or sabbatical. Another example could be lack of progress on the research project, with recommendation that another advisor may be more effective in guiding the student’s progress. In any case, faculty will notify the student of the need to seek another chair or committee member and discuss possible options. Once a replacement is identified and the new chair agrees to accept the student, the student should seek final approval of this change from the director of the PhD Program through email and obtain new signatures on Form 9 indicating the new dissertation chair and any other changes in committee membership.  

Proposal Hearing

Prior to pursuing Institutional Review Board approval so that data collection can begin, the student will present the written dissertation proposal to the dissertation committee and schedule and oral presentation of the proposal. Committee members must have the written proposal 3 weeks prior to the oral presentation. It is important to communicate with the PhD coordinator during this phase of your progression. 

 

  1. Contact the PhD coordinator at least 4 weeks prior to your proposal hearing date to schedule your hearing. The Associate Dean for Nursing Research and Scholarship, the Academic Dean, the PhD Program Director, and the Assistant Dean for Graduate Practice Studies are invited to the hearing. 
  2. The PhD coordinator will schedule your room and any projectors or computer equipment that you might need. 
  3. Two weeks prior to your proposal hearing contact the PhD coordinator to confirm your plans.

Dissertation Guidelines

Overview

Students are expected to work in close cooperation with their dissertation committee and to keep members informed about their progress on a regular basis. The dissertation chair works with the student in preparation of the dissertation document. The chair must be given 3 weeks to read and comment on any draft of the dissertation. The chair will decide when the dissertation can be reviewed by other committee members. These readers must also be given 3 weeks to read and comment on any draft of the dissertation. Students should plan to revise the dissertation based on comments from the full committee and a final revised version of the dissertation should be provided to the committee 4 weeks prior to the defense date. Dissertations must be defended orally; after an oral defense, the members of the dissertation committee vote on acceptance or rejection of the dissertation. The committee may also suggest that the student do some additional work to make the dissertation acceptable. The decision of the dissertation committee will be reported in the form of satisfactory/ unsatisfactory grade for dissertation credits. 

 

Dissertation Defense 

Below are the steps for setting up your dissertation defense: 

***You must make this arrangement 4 weeks ahead of time*** 

1. Contact the PhD Program Coordinator with a tentative date and time for your dissertation defense, and to provide the title of your dissertation. 

2. The PhD Program Coordinator will schedule a room for the defense. 

3. The PhD Program Coordinator will make and post the flyers for your dissertation defense. 

4. Preparation for presentation

  • Prepare PowerPoint for a 30 minute presentation and submit to your chair for review 2 weeks in advance of the defense date.
  • Meet with your chair to revise the PowerPoint and discuss the presentation. Candidates may invite family/friends to the public defense but should inform them that they cannot participate in the Question and Answer period. 
  • Candidates are expected to come prepared to the open defense with printed presentation materials (slides and notes) for their reference. 
  • Candidates must bring two copies of their dissertation signature page, a Sharpie Pen and the Transmittal Memo to the dissertation defense. Candidates are responsible for obtaining signatures from their committee members and Dean Smith prior to submitting the signature pages and Transmittal Memo to the PhD Coordinator and the Graduate College for processing.  
  • Candidates are expected to be comfortable with the assigned room and use of IT equipment in the scheduled room well before the time scheduled for the dissertation.  
  • Candidates are expected  to be prepared to respond to questions that may be ambiguous, need further clarification, or request information that the candidate does not have immediately available.
  • Candidates are expected to dress professionally for this important professional occasion.
  • Candidates should allow approximately 3 hours for the total defense (including open and closed defense).

Dissertation Defense Guidelines

Purpose: To increase the rigor, fairness, and consistency in the College of Nursing PhD dissertation defense process.

Rationale: The PhD candidate is able to independently, as a requirement of conditions for doctoral degree, describe and expertly discuss their original and unique scholarly contribution to the discipline.

A. Organization of the PhD Dissertation Defense:

  1. Dissertation Defense is an open, public event  
  2. Notice of Defense Date to be posted 4 weeks prior to the date of the defense
  3. On the Date of the Defense, PhD Coordinator will:
    1. Set up the room to facilitate Committee Members sitting together and that facilitates an open dialogue following the candidate’s presentation
    2. Coordinate  Committee Members needing to be conferenced in for the defense before the start time of the defense
    3. Limit Dissertation admittance  to the room once the PhD candidate takes the podium
  4. Expectations of Dissertation Chair and Committee Members: 
    1. Schedules room for the defense: Working with the PhD Coordinator, schedules defense meeting room that will allow for:  video casting to remote committee members and conferencing that is large enough to accommodate 20 or more people (e.g., Room 202) 
    2. Dissertation Chairs are encouraged to review the slide presentation and work with the candidate on their style of delivery prior to the date of the defense.  This will assist candidates to gauge the length of the presentation and the appropriateness/completeness of the slides in order to give a comprehensive and in-depth overview of the dissertation work.  No more than 30 slides are recommended.
    3. On the Defense Day:
      • The Chair welcomes and introduces: 1) the candidate, from a candidate provided brief biosketch and states the title of the dissertation, 2) introduces each of the Committee Members, stating their professional credentials, and noting their unique expertise as a member for this committee.
      • The Chair outlines the proposal defense process noting:
      • Candidate has approximately 30 minutes to provide a comprehensive overview of their dissertation including findings and future implications
      • The Chair will moderate the Q & A period. 
        • Faculty and students will have up to 30 minutes for Questions and Answers. 
        • Note: Only the PhD candidate may respond to questions.  Committee members are not to assist the candidate in responding to questions raised during this phase of the defense.
      • The Chair will ask everyone except the Committee and Candidate to leave allowing the Committee to meet with the Candidate to complete the defense and discuss future actions.
      • It is expected that the closed dissertation defense, between the Committee and Candidate, will be sufficient in time to allow for a thorough and comprehensive exploration that demonstrates the candidate’s ability to expertly describe and discuss their dissertation topic/original research  and the candidate’s contribution to the discipline
      • Candidate will then be asked to leave the room allowing the Committee to deliberate and determine the outcome of the dissertation.
      • If the committee agrees that the candidate has successfully defended his/her dissertation, the Chair congratulates and invites the new PhD back into the room.  A brief discussion follows between the candidate and the Committee in order to outline  the required modifications and timeline of the  University required final steps for filing the Graduate forms: http://www.fau.edu/graduate/forms-and-procedures/degree-completion/thesis-and-dissertation/submission.php
      • The Chair, at this time, may invite, on behalf of the College of Nursing, family, friends, and colleagues to join in a celebration – noting time and location. Chair is encouraged to send an email invitation to CON faculty noting the same.
      • If the committee agrees that additional work is required of the candidate based on the written dissertation and/or the proposal oral defense, the Chair and Committee members meet with the candidate to clearly outline the revisions/additional work required as well as a negotiated timeline for completion.
      • In the event that this results in the need for an additional defense or major revisions, the Chair, working with the candidate and committee member’s, will facilitate next steps in a timely manner. 
  1. Expectations of Candidates:
    1. Candidates may invite family/friends to the public defense but should inform them that they cannot participate in the Question and Answer period.
    2. Candidates are expected to come prepared to the open defense with printed presentation materials (slides and notes) for their reference.
    3. Candidates must bring two copies of their dissertation signature page, a Sharpie Pen and the Transmittal Memo to the dissertation defense. Candidates are responsible for obtaining signatures from their committee members and Dean Smith prior to submitting the signature pages and Transmittal Memo to the PhD Coordinator and the Graduate College for processing. 
    4. Candidates are expected to be comfortable with the assigned room and use of IT equipment in the scheduled room well before the time scheduled for the dissertation. 
    5. Candidates are expected  to be prepared to respond to questions that may be ambiguous, need further clarification, or request information that the candidate does not have immediately available.
    6. Candidates are expected to dress professionally for this important professional occasion.
    7. Candidates should allow approximately 3 hours for the total defense (including open and closed defense).

Filing

  • The dissertation must be written in the format specified by the university.  Students should consult the university’s Graduate Thesis & Dissertation Guidelines to be sure their dissertation if properly formatted.  The most up-to-date version is found on the Graduate College website at: http://fau.edu/graduate/forms-and-procedures/degree-completion/thesis-and-dissertation/index.php.  An electronic copy of the dissertation must be submitted to the Graduate College for a formatting review by emailing graduatesupport@fau.edu.  It is recommended the student have the format checked as early in the process as possible. 

 

  • All dissertation documentation should be filed with the Graduate College, located in the Student Support Services Building (SU-80). Please refer to the academic calendar or the Graduate College website for dissertation and graduate deadline information.

Graduation

Students may participate in any of the three annual university commencements (December, May, and August). Please note that dissertations need to be filed with the Graduate College well before the commencement date. There are several deadlines that must be met in order to insure a timely graduation.  Following is a sample timeline for dissertation completion. Individual situations may vary, but for May graduation, defense dates must occur before March 15. For August commencement, a defense date must occur before June 25. For December commencement, the defense date must occur before October 30.  Failure to meet the deadlines will result in a delayed graduation.  Graduation deadlines for each semester can be found on the Graduate College website: http://www.fau.edu/graduate/forms-and-procedures/graduation.php.  

Extramural Funding

PhD students are encouraged to apply for extramural funding. These applications must be routed to the Associate Dean for Nursing Research and Scholarship. Intention to apply for funding must be discussed with the dissertation chair and the Office of Nursing Research, Scholarship and PhD studies must be notified at least 8 weeks ahead of the submission deadline. Generally, faculty advisors will be listed as principal investigator for student proposals. The student will work with the dissertation chair to develop the proposal for funding. Consistent with the guidelines for dissertation proposal preparation, the faculty chair will have at least three weeks to review each draft of the proposal being prepared for extramural funding. All proposal components, including narrative, budget and budget justification, bio sketches and letters of support, must be ready for submission to the Office of Sponsored Programs seven working days before the proposal is due to the funding agency.