Doctoral Thesis: Policies and Procedures

In addition to the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (GPS) regulations, such as all other program requirements having been met (including the language requirement), the School of Psychology has the following policies and procedures relative to the doctoral thesis.

The Thesis Supervisor

  • Students are assigned a thesis supervisor at the time of admission by the Graduate Admissions Committee of the School of Psychology.
  • A change in thesis supervisor must be approved by the Director of the program the student is enrolled in (Clinical or Experimental) at the School of Psychology.
  • The thesis supervisor should be reasonably accessible to provide the student with guidance and assistance. Under normal circumstances, the supervisor and the student are expected to be in contact at least once a month.
  • Should the supervisor be on leave for an extended period of time, special arrangements should be made to ensure the student receives adequate support (e.g., e-mail contact, telephone discussions, a colleague who can serve as a resource person) so as to pursue his/her studies and research without interruption.

The Thesis Committee

  • The thesis committee is composed of four members, including the thesis supervisor. Of these four, at least two must be regular full-time or emeritus professors of the School of Psychology, and all must be eligible to supervise graduate theses at the University of Ottawa. The thesis supervisor submits the Thesis Committee Nomination form to the Graduate Studies Secretariat of the School of Psychology, which contains the names of the members who have agreed to be on the thesis committee. Before the first meeting of the committee, the membership must be approved by the Program Director of the program the student is enrolled in (Clinical or Experimental) at the School of Psychology.
  • Members of the thesis committee must be approved prior to submission of the Annual Student Review in Year 2.
  • The thesis committee members (a) provide support and direction in the student's planning of the thesis proposal; (b) approve the formal thesis proposal; (c) are available for consultation; and (d) are expected to serve as members of the doctoral thesis evaluation committee, subject to approval by Graduate Postdoctoral Studies – Faculty of Social Sciences. The thesis supervisor serves as chair of the thesis committee, and prepares and distributes minutes of the meetings as needed.
  • Any change in the composition of the thesis committee must be approved by the Program Director of the program the student is enrolled in (Clinical or Experimental) at the School of Psychology.


The Thesis Proposal

  • The thesis proposal must include an introduction, a method section, a section specifying the way the data will be analyzed, a list of references, and any necessary appendices. If the proposal includes several studies, the aims, hypotheses, method, and data analytic strategy of each study must be described. If pilot studies have already been done, the proposal must include a results section and a discussion of the results.
  • Introduction: The purpose of the introduction is to present the goals of the thesis, the rationale, the research questions, and the potential contribution to the advancement of knowledge. It must also include a review of the relevant literature and a clear statement of the hypothesis to be tested, and, in the case of qualitative research, research questions to be addressed.
  • Method: This section must provide clear information on participants, materials, apparatus, design, instruments, procedures, and verbatim instructions if the research involves human participants.
  • Analysis of data: This section describes the way the data will be analyzed in order to test the hypotheses or to systematically address specific research questions.
  • References: All references cited in the proposal must be included in the reference section.
  • Appendices: These sections provide information necessary to replicate the research, including instructions to participants, consent forms, debriefing scripts, instruments that are not copyrighted, and, in the case of qualitative research, data analyses when applicable.
  • The thesis proposal is submitted to the thesis committee at least four weeks before the date of the proposal defense. Thesis committee membership must have been approved by the program director prior to the proposal defense. The student is responsible for scheduling the defense and booking a room for the defense. The thesis defense is chaired by the supervisor and typically lasts up to two hours. It usually includes a brief presentation by the student and several rounds of questions and discussions. Revisions to the proposal may be requested before final approval. It is the responsibility of the thesis supervisor to provide a list of revisions to students and committee members.
  • The thesis proposal must be approved by the thesis committee before the end of the third year (for students admitted as of Sept. 2020). To confirm the approval of the thesis proposal, all members of the thesis committee sign the Approval of the Thesis Proposal form. This form must be given to the Graduate Studies Secretariat at the School of Psychology. Any subsequent major departures from the accepted proposal must be approved by the thesis committee.

The Thesis

  • The thesis document may be presented either in the monograph format or in the article format. The thesis must be presented according to the publication norms that apply to the student's line of research (e.g., APA or Chicago style for the neurosciences). More information about the thesis can be found on the Graduate and Postdoctoral page.
  • Students are strongly encouraged to ask thesis committee members for feedback on a draft of the thesis before officially submitting the thesis for evaluation (a pre-read). Students should allow four to eight weeks for a pre-read.

Submission of the Thesis

  • One month prior to the submission of the thesis, the List of Examiners for the Evaluation of the Thesis form must be submitted as a service request, by the student, through the candidate center in uoZone. This list must include the names of three internal examiners (typically the members of the thesis committee; the supervisor cannot be an examiner) and one potential external examiner. The complete CV of the potential external must also be attached to this service request. The thesis supervisor, having already consulted with and obtained approval  from the Assistant Director of the School regarding the choice of external examiner, is responsible for contacting the potential external examiner to confirm that she is willing to accept the role and also to obtain the updated CV.
  • Proposed external examiners must not be in conflict of interest, must have expertise in the field of study of the thesis, and must have experience with thesis evaluation (usually they are Associate or Full or Emeritus professors).
  • The student must submit the thesis for evaluation, as a service request, through the candidate center in uoZone.
  • The thesis supervisor receives an email to confirm that the thesis is ready to be evaluated.
  • The student will be informed by e-mail if paper copies are requested by the examiners.
  • Students are strongly encouraged to submit for publication at least one manuscript based on the thesis before the thesis submission.
  • More information about the submission and evaluation process is available on the Graduate and Postdoctoral page.
  • Once the evaluation process has started, students are not allowed to communicate with the examiners.


Approved by School Council, October 8, 1999

No. 5 approved by the Management Committee April 26, 2016

Approved by the Management Committee, May 10, 2017

Approved by School Council, May 26, 2017

Modifications approved by the Graduate Studies Committee, September 27th, 2019

Modifications approved by the Management Committee, September 12th, 2019

 Modifications approved by the Management Committee, October 10th, 2019

Modifications approved by School Council, October 11th, 2019

Back to top