Dissertations: The Process
Welcome to The Chicago School of Professional Psychology's Dissertation site, the institution's central dissertation resource. Here faculty and students can find information about how to prepare the dissertation, access copyediting services, plus other dissertation processing tools and guidelines.
Doctoral students and faculty can access The Chicago School Dissertation Manual here. All doctoral level students who begin their dissertation research are to use this manual to guide their work. The Chicago School Dissertation Manual provides an overview of the TCSPP model of education and associated institutional values and learning goals, a description of the Dissertation Requirements and Dissertation Process Guidelines, and additional resources intended to support the needs of the dissertation student. Your Program's Dissertation Guidelines, address unique requirements of the individual programs. (Students completing master’s level theses are to consult their program for their thesis manual.)
From Planning to Post Defense, students will find information here to guide them on the path toward fulfilling the dissertation requirement.
Required Dissertation Related Forms
Administrative forms can be found in Appendix C – Dissertation Related Forms of the Dissertation Manual . As the student completes certain milestones, the specific program will require the student to demonstrate progress through timely submission of all required administrative forms to the Dissertation Designee, which is an appointed person within the department. Contact your specific department for further information on the Dissertation Designee or click here. Refer to the Steps below and The Chicago School Dissertation Manual, and check Your Program Guidelines for specific requirements. The following forms are contained in Appendix C of the Dissertation Manual:
1. Form A – Dissertation Committee Request
The purpose of this form is to formally document the Chair and Reader(s) comprising the dissertation committee.
2. Form B – Dissertation Project Goals
This form is to be completed by the student and dissertation committee Chair at the beginning of each term. The form reflects the plan for dissertation progress during that term, and goals must be the result of mutual agreement between the student and Chair.
3. Form C – Proposal Review
This form provides formal documentation of the dissertation committee’s decision with respect to approval of the proposal. If revisions are required, the student must submit Form C again after revisions have been made. A proposal cannot be considered successfully defended until all members of the dissertation committee are in agreement that the proposal has passed.
4. Form D – Dissertation Review
This form provides formal documentation of the dissertation committee’s decision with respect to approval of the final dissertation. If revisions are required, the student must submit Form D again after revisions have been made. A dissertation cannot be considered successfully defended until all members of the dissertation committee are in agreement that the dissertation has passed. The dissertation is scored along four dimensions on a scale of 1-5. A minimum score of 3.0 is needed in each in order for the dissertation to pass.
5. Form E – Oral Defense
This form provides formal documentation of the dissertation committee’s decision with respect to approval of the oral defense. If the oral defense is not passed, the student must submit Form E again. An oral defense cannot be considered successful until all members of the dissertation committee are in agreement that the oral defense has passed. The oral defense is scored along four dimensions on a scale of 1-5. A minimum score of 3.0 is needed in each category in order for the oral defense to pass.
The Rubric for Evaluation of Dissertation is included in Appendix B, and is to be used for evaluation of the quality of the Dissertation both at the proposal and defense stages of the dissertation process.
Step 1: Project Planning, Developing a Topic, and Committee Selection
Beginning the Dissertation can seem like a daunting task. When starting, setting up a specific plan by carefully setting realistic, manageable, and measureable goals, the student can readily take hold of the Dissertation. The project plan may also serve as a guide for the selected Dissertation Chair to follow while determining progress for assignment of credit each semester. For more information on how to plan the Dissertation, refer to The Chicago School Dissertation Manual.
After beginning to plan and before choosing a Dissertation Chair, the student will develop a topic. When developing a topic, conducting research on what others have done already is essential. Refer to The Chicago School Dissertation Manual and Your Program Guidelines for further guidance.
As mentioned above, the Dissertation Chair will be an important reference person during the Dissertation Process. Using Form A – Dissertation Committee Request, the student can request a Dissertation Chair, as well as a reader or two. Refer to Chapter 2 of The Chicago School Dissertation Manual and Your Program Guidelines for additional information on how to select a Dissertation Chair and Reader(s). After selecting a Dissertation Chair and Committee, the student should fill out Form B – Dissertation Project Goals with the Dissertation Chair to provide both parties with objectives for the dissertation process.
Step 2: Proposal Development and Defense
The dissertation proposal is comprised of the first three chapters of the dissertation: Chapter 1, an introduction to the study; Chapter 2, a comprehensive review of the literature; and Chapter 3, a research design and methodology. Also included are a Title Page, Table of Contents, References, and Appendices as warranted. Development of a Dissertation Proposal is an evolutionary process, and students should expect to complete revisions to early drafts of the proposal. Once the Dissertation Proposal has been revised and approved by the Dissertation Committee, the Dissertation Proposal is ready to move on to proposal defense. Formal approval of the proposal may be obtained through documentation with the submission of Form C – Proposal Review, and/or through a meeting attended by the student and each member of the committee. Form C should be completed in either situation. The Rubric for Evaluation of Dissertation is to be used for evaluation of the quality of the Dissertation both at the proposal and defense of the Dissertation. The student should carefully consider the rubric to maximize successful demonstration of the necessary elements.
Along with completing the proposal, the Dissertation Committee Chairs should conduct the plagiarism check through Turnitin before data collection begins. This may be completed through an eCollege dropbox in the student’s Dissertation Maintenance course or through Turnitin.com directly. For both cases, the Dissertation Chair must set up an account for Turnitin.com. There are no percentage requirements. Instead, committee members should examine the similarity report. To learn more about this tool, please review the instructor guide for further instructions on how to set up an account directly with TurnItIn.com. To access account information, login to eGo and go to the Your Program Guidelines. For instructions on how to set up Turnitin.com through eCollege, please click on this video link: http://youtu.be/asQKGNuzcVo.
Appendix A – Resources for Research Design and Methodologies
Appendix A provides a list of resources regarding quantitative research, qualitative research, and mixed method research.
TCSPP Library Resources
The TCSPP Libraries provide access to information and materials that support the teaching, research, and public service programs of the school. The libraries support these programs by acquiring and managing scholarly information related to the theory, teaching, and practice of professional psychology, providing access to information only available elsewhere, providing reference and instruction, and exchanging information resources with other libraries around the world.
Offers doctoral dissertations and master’s theses published by students at the Chicago School and around the world.
For help with your document
The National Center for Academic & Dissertation Excellence (NCADE) supports all dissertating students. The Dissertation Writing Experts (DWEs) at NCADE provide wraparound assistance in the areas of APA writing style (grammar, usage, and mechanics of style) and APA citation and formatting style, as well as support and editorial help with preparing IRB applications for submission.
The Methodology Experts (MEs) at NCADE provide methodological support for the dissertation research, including a review of the methodological component of the IRB application. You may receive up to 2 hours of methodology consultation provided by an NCADE Methodology Expert (ME). Students have found it helpful to use a ME to break up the consultation in 30-minute cycles: preparing the methodology, analyzing the results, and presenting the findings. You can contact a Methodology Expert by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Please place “Methodology Consultation” in the subject field.
See below for formatting resources
Step 3: Institutional Review Board (IRB) Submission
After completing the proposal defense, the student must complete an IRB application to begin conducting research and gathering data. Please refer to The Chicago School Dissertation Manual for information on submitting to the IRB and visit the IRB website for application materials.
Step 4: Dissertation Review and Oral Defense
After completing results or findings: Chapter 4 and discussion, limitations, and conclusions: Chapter 5, the Dissertation is ready to be submitted for final review. The Dissertation Committee may use the Rubric for Evaluation of Dissertation to evaluate the Dissertation for the final time. Form D – Dissertation Review should also be completed by the Dissertation Committee after final review of the completed dissertation. If revisions need to be done, an additional copy of Form D should be completed. After completing the final review, the Dissertation will be submitted to TurnItIn.com for another plagiarism check.
Next, the student will orally defend the Dissertation in front of the Dissertation Committee. Form E – Oral Defense will be completed at this time.
Step 5: Copyediting, Submission and Format Review
When the oral defense is finished, the student will submit the Dissertation for copyediting. The department Dissertation Designee must submit the Dissertation Processing Tracking Form as evidence of the student's successful defense. Before transitioning to the copyediting phase, students and the department must ensure the dissertation fulfills all committee required edits, changes, and revisions. Once the department has submitted the tracking form, Dissertation Processing will notify the student to proceed with copy editing.
Under the guidance of the departmental dissertation designee, the department can send the Dissertation Processing Tracking form to email@example.com. The tracking form can be found here.
The TCSPP team of copy editors only reviews the document for APA style and grammar issues. Dissertation content will not be reviewed. The copy editing process takes up to three months if the student plans accordingly and promptly makes all suggested edits and revisions. Along with the hard copy dissertation, students must submit a completed signature page and publishing forms.
The final manuscript must be neat and clean, free of typing, grammatical, and format errors. The student is responsible for editing and proofreading the final Dissertation before and during dissertation processing. When a TCSPP copy editor reviews the final draft and highlights required changes, the student is responsible for accurate transcription of the copy presented and for uniformity of spacing, neatness, and other mechanics of typing.
Any errors will result in additional costs and will delay final approval of the dissertation by the school.
Once the department has completed these steps, Dissertation Processing will notify the student to proceed with copy editing. The TCSPP team of copy editors only reviews the document for APA style and grammar issues. Dissertation content will not be reviewed.
The copy editing process takes up to three months if the student plans accordingly and promptly makes all suggested edits and revisions. Along with the hard copy dissertation, students must submit a completed signature page and publishing forms.
Before a dissertation is submitted for processing, please make sure the document is ready for review. Below are some resources and guides for preparing the dissertation for copy editing.
No one will reformat the final Dissertation before it is bound and placed in the library. Therefore, it is the student’s responsibility to make certain that the project adheres to the rules put forth in The Chicago School Dissertation Manual.
All-But Dissertation Survival Guide
TCSPP Style and Format Manual
APA Style Resources
Bold-Ed Papermaker Program
How to Format Reference List Video-Presented by Purdue OWL
OWL Purdue Online Writing Lab
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Dissertation Format Checklist
Empirical Research Example
Style and Format Model Pages
The Filing Process
Electronic Processing- Students who follow the electronic submission process must upload the document in full text on the ProQuest website. Dissertations are also viewable through the ProQuest website.
Below is the step by step electronic submission process for the dissertation copy editing requirement:
Successful oral defense occurs. The Department Dissertation Designee sends Dissertation Processing the Dissertation Processing Tracking Form signaling student's readiness to enter copy editing.
Dissertation Processing sends the student to the TCS ProQuest website to create profile and upload their pdf version of the dissertation.
Dissertation Processing assigns student a Copy Editor, who contacts the student to begin the copy editing process.
Copy Editor and student work on dissertation until copy editor deems work to be complete
Student uploads final pdf version of dissertation. Copy editor approves final version and confirms dissertation's readiness with Dissertation Processing. Student gathers signatures for signature page and sends it Dissertation Processing.
Dissertation Processing sends completed dissertation tracking form to student, departmental dissertation designee, registrar, and student services signaling student's completion of dissertation processing.
Dissertation Processing submits dissertation to ProQuest for binding and publishing.
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During the copy editing process, students will need to obtain the signatures of the members of their committee on the dissertation's signature page. Students can begin this process once the copy editor approves your dissertation's signature page. Please begin this process as soon as possible, as it can take considerable time to locate faculty (e.g., due to travel, break, other). Also note that it is important to verify details such as the exact spelling of names and the professional titles of committee members before asking for their signatures. It is the student's responsibility to circulate and complete the page.
Students can circulate their page electronically by email or fax. Only ink or e-signatures from committee member are accepted. Once complete, the page can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org or faxed to 312-379-1654. The completed signature page will be kept on file in the Dissertation office. It will not be included in the processed dissertation.
For more information, please contact your program’s Dissertation Designee or:
Manager of Dissertations and Theses