HDR Thesis Preparation

So, you are pulling all the pieces together and preparing your thesis for examination? You will need to make sure you have referred to the information here to ensure your thesis is formatted and presented correctly.

Your thesis must comply with the specific format prescribed by the University for the Doctorate or Masters course, as well as the discipline in which you are enrolled. There is a wide range of disciplines in which theses are written so the generic information provided here may not cover all the specific requirements You should consult with your Primary Advisor regarding matters such as style and requirements peculiar to your particular field of research before preparing the final draft of the thesis. Various style manuals are used within the University and most are held by the JCU Library. Examining other theses in the discipline from this and other universities is also good practice. Many examples are available online.

The purpose of writing a thesis

The thesis should be written with the aim of convincing examiners that the candidate has met the requirements for the degree. The requirements of research degrees offered by JCU follow the specifications of the Australian Qualifications Framework and are as follows:

Research Doctorate degree: A doctoral degree qualifies individuals who apply a substantial body of knowledge to research, investigate and develop new knowledge, in one or more fields of investigation, scholarship or professional practice.

Research Masters Degree: A Research Masters degree qualifies individuals who apply an advanced body of knowledge in a range of contexts for research and scholarship and as a pathway for further learning.

All HDR theses are expected to show evidence of:

  • Originality of the research data and/or analysis of the data;
  • Coherence of argument and presentation;
  • Technical and conceptual competence in analysis and presentation; and
  • Critical knowledge of the relevant literature.

Presentation and Layout

Candidates should use a high quality word processing or desktop publishing computer package to ensure that thesis presentation is both clear and attractive to the reader. The typescript must be clear and easily read, such as Times, Times New Roman or Arial, in a font size such as 11, although other fonts of similar size and appearance are acceptable.

Theses are submitted electronically both for examination and to the library.  The layout should have:

  • The equivalent of paper sizing A4 (297mm x 210mm)
  • Line spacing of at least 1.5
  • Footnotes, if used, placed at the foot of the page to which they refer and not be carried over to another page
  • Margins of no less than 25mm
  • Diagrams, maps, photographs, etc., interleaved in the text included in the page sequence and numbered accordingly.

Information stored on media such as DVD, CD and USB drive can be included in the thesis. Candidates should consult with the Research Liaison Librarian to ensure that such information is provided in a format that will be easily accessible to an examiner and reader and suitable for long-term electronic storage in ResearchOnline@JCU, the University’s online institutional repository, which forms the University’s archive of research outputs of staff and HDR candidates.

Length of the thesis

The thesis should not exceed the maximum number of words specified below:

  • Research Masters – 60,000 words
  • Professional Doctorate – 50,000 words
  • Doctor of Philosophy – 100,000 words

The limits set above are exclusive of appendices, bibliographies, etc. Candidates are asked to sign that they have met the relevant restriction in the forms that accompany thesis submission.

Many successful theses will be much shorter than these word limits  (e.g. of the order of 50,000-70,000 words or less for a PhD thesis) and candidates should think carefully about whether it is really necessary to produce a PhD thesis longer than about 85,000 words and discuss the matter with their advisors.

Avoidance of Plagiarism

All quotations, conclusions, findings, important ideas or concepts reached by others (or published previously by the candidate) that are used or referred to in the thesis must be fully acknowledged. The candidate is strongly encouraged to use plagiarism checking software to check their thesis chapters as they write them for references to others work.

The candidate must declare that they have stated clearly and fully in the thesis the extent of any collaboration with others and that to the best of their knowledge and belief, the thesis contains no material previously published (including grey literature and online blogs, etc.) by any other person except where due acknowledgment has been made by Including a Statement of Contribution of Others. (See Section on Thesis Contents.)