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Dissertation and Thesis Guidelines

All the steps for submitting your dissertation, thesis, or clinical project to the Leatherby Libraries.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Procedural Questions

Either is fine, although PDF is preferred. On occasion, Word documents may display differently on different computers, but a PDF usually ensures that the student and the library are both seeing the same thing.

Typically we will review your submission within 1-2 business days. If your submission matches all of the formatting requirements on the checklist, we will give you approval to move on to the next steps. The process may take longer if we request revisions because the submission does not match the checklist.

Deadlines are posted on the homepage of this guide and each of the "Next Steps" page. It is recommended that you submit well ahead of this deadline in case any corrections need to be made to your manuscript. Please note that this deadline is for completing all requirements, including Chapman University Digital Commons and ProQuest submissions, and not just for the initial submission to the library. Not completing all of the requirements by the posted deadline may result in deferment of your degree conferral.

Due to the high volumes of submissions we receive, we cannot offer any sort of "pre-review" before the thesis or dissertation is formally submitted to the library with the checklist and all signatures. Please send any questions you have about your thesis/dissertation or the formatting requirements by email.

If major corrections still need to be made after the librarian reviews your thesis or dissertation twice, you may be asked to work with your chair or an editor to address the remaining issues and then resubmit to the library. Note, however, that if the process extends beyond the due date for completing the library submission process, it could result in your degree conferral being delayed. Such a decision would be up to the Office of the Associate Vice President for Graduate Education.

The library does not confer degrees and cannot answer this question for you. We recommend checking with your committee chair or department.


Formatting Questions

Use section breaks to divide your document to accommodate the varying page number requirements.
  • The title and approval page will be one section, without page numbers.
  • The rest of the front matter, starting with the copyright page, will be another section, with Roman numerals.
  • And the main body of the thesis/dissertation itself will be a third section, with Arabic numerals.
To insert a section break:
Up on the ribbon bar, go to the Page Layout tab, click "Breaks", and select "Next page" from the drop-down to allow for different pagination on the following page OR select "Continuous" to allow for different pagination starting with the page you are on.
Note that within each "Section," you can specify "different first page." You can also set the page numbering to start at a specific number (like "iii").

You may need to repeat this once you get the portion of your document that requires Arabic numeral page numbering.

Make sure "Link to Previous" is NOT selected for each new section.

This guide on Microsoft's website is helpful as well. There are also numerous YouTube tutorials available.

Due to the high volumes of submissions we receive, and the variety of hardware and software options in use, the library cannot manually edit theses and dissertations for students. However, we have tried to provide solutions to common questions in this FAQ. The Internet can also provide many solutions to software issues; searching for your software plus the issue can often yield results to fix most problems (e.g. "Microsoft Word 2013 page number height"). If you still need assistance, we recommend contacting your university's IT department or writing center, or reaching out to a professional editor.

If you are formatting your thesis/dissertation as a PDF, use Adobe Acrobat to insert your approval page.  Click "Pages" in the right sidebar, then "Insert from File".

If you are using Word, insert the approval page as an Object or an Image.  Click "Insert" at the top, and then either "Pictures" in the Illustrations menu or "Object" in the Text menu.  Please note that this may not work if you have unverified digital signatures on your approval page.

If your approval page has been digitally signed and the signatures "disappear" when you try to import them into a new version of your thesis or dissertation, we recommend printing out the signed approval page, scanning it back into your computer as an image or a PDF, and then inserting it that way.

As long as it does not contradict something in the checklist, then it is fine if something in your thesis or dissertation looks different than the template(s). The templates are optional documents and their formatting may not be appropriate for all disciplines, citation styles, or personal preferences. You can customize the look of many elements in the template or create your own document from scratch, as long as the checklist requirements are met. If something is not specifically addressed in the checklist, then you may use your own discretion as to how to format those elements.

Please note that in some cases, the checklist requirements may differ from what is normally required by a particular citation style, and that the requirements of the checklist have precedence over both the templates and other citation styles in cases of discrepancies.


Embargo Questions

An embargo is a way to prevent your thesis or dissertation from being downloadable for up to two years. The record for your thesis or dissertation would be publicly viewable, but the file would not become readable/downloadable until the embargo expires. Note that embargoes are only applicable for MA, MS, and PhD submissions, as MFA submissions have very restricted access controls anyway.

When you upload a MA, MS, or PhD submission to Chapman University Digital Commons, you can select an embargo of up to two years. If you are in a program that also submits to ProQuest (i.e. all MA/MS/Ph.D. programs), the Dissertation and Thesis Librarian will make sure that the same embargo is applied to your submission there.

Requests for embargoes of greater than two years are subject to the Office of the Associate Vice President for Graduate Education. Please use this form to make a request.


Digital Commons Questions

On occasion, these emails go to the spam folder, so check there. If it still has not shown up after a few hours, please inform the Dissertations and Theses Librarian.

Put the month and year that your degree will be awarded, i.e. the same date that's on your title page. You don't have to fill in a specific day.


ProQuest Questions

It is entirely up to you. Traditional Publishing is the default mode in ProQuest, and means that only users with a subscription to the database (typically through a university library) will be able to access your thesis or dissertation. Open access publishing is an option whereby the author (i.e. you) pays an additional fee in order to make the thesis dissertation freely available for users around the world to download and read.

However, because students are required to submit to Chapman University Digital Commons, their theses and dissertations will already be available on an open access basis for free in those places.

Many publishers will not count depositing your thesis or dissertation in ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global as prior publication, just as they do not consider posting an open access version in Chapman University Digital Commons as prior publication. Please see the "Open Access Questions" tab of this FAQ for a collection of studies on whether OA publication affects chances of traditional publication, and note that with the Traditional Publishing option in ProQuest, access to your dissertation or thesis will be more restricted than it would with the Open Access option.

Again, this is entirely up to you. As the author of your thesis or dissertation, you already own the copyright to your work from the moment you put it in writing, and are legally entitled to seek recompense from anyone who violates it. This is your right even without registering with the Copyright Office or anything else. Registering your copyright, then, provides an extra layer of security and proof if you ever need to defend your copyright in court.

It usually takes 6-8 weeks from the time of submission for a thesis or dissertation to show up in the ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global database.

You will need to contact ProQuest customer support to get information on the status of print copies. The Leatherby Libraries approve dissertation and thesis submissions in ProQuest, but are not involved in the production of print copies.


Open Access Questions

Most publishers will still be willing to consider your work even if your dissertation or thesis is freely available online, since it is likely to change in the peer review or editorial process anyway. A posted dissertation or thesis is not usually counted as a "prior publication".

The following links provide some useful information on the traditional publishing of OA theses and dissertations:

Print Copies

If you are in a program that submits to ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global, you can order print copies when you submit to the database. There will be several options for size and binding.

Kater-Crafts Bookbinders is another service that will bind copies for the general public.

You will need to contact ProQuest customer support to get information on the status of print copies. The Leatherby Libraries approve dissertation and thesis submissions in ProQuest, but are not involved in the production of print copies.