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Manuscript-Based (Article-Based) Theses

As an alternative to the traditional format, a thesis may be presented as a collection of scholarly papers of which the student is the first author or co-first author. A manuscript-based doctoral thesis must include the text of a minimum of two manuscripts published, submitted or to be submitted for publication. A manuscript-based Master’s thesis must include the text of one or more manuscripts. Articles must be formatted according to the requirements described below. Note that a manuscript-based thesis must follow the general structure of a thesis as explained here. An FAQ explaining the difference between a standard and a manuscript-based thesis is available here.

Manuscripts for publication in journals are frequently very concise documents. A thesis, however, is expected to consist of more detailed, scholarly work. A manuscript-based thesis will be evaluated by the examiners as a unified, logically coherent document in the same way a traditional thesis is evaluated. Publication of manuscripts, or acceptance for publication by a peer-reviewed journal, does not guarantee that the thesis will be found acceptable for the degree sought.

A manuscript-based thesis must:

  • be presented with uniform font size, line spacing, and margin sizes (see Thesis Format under Preparation of a Thesis);
  • conform to all other requirements listed under Thesis Components on the Preparation of a Thesis page;
  • contain additional text that connects the manuscript(s) in a logical progression from one chapter to the next, producing a cohesive, unitary focus, and documenting a single program of research - the manuscript(s) alone do not constitute the thesis;
  • stand as an integrated whole.

Any manuscripts that are under review, accepted or published in a journal must be included in your manuscript-based thesis without changes (i.e. identical to the published or submitted versions). The only change is with respect to the font/size which should be the same as the one used for the rest of the thesis for consistency and homogeneity reasons. So each chapter represents a full manuscript and has its own reference list. Then at the end of the thesis, you have a master reference list which includes all the other references cited throughout the other sections of the thesis, mostly within the general introduction but also from the general discussion.

Depending on the feedback of your examiners and/or the oral defence committee, you may be required to make revisions to your thesis before final submission. The committee’s comments must be addressed in the connecting text between chapters and/or the discussion section. You must not make any changes to the manuscripts themselves in your final thesis.

In the case of multiple-authored articles, the student must be the first author. Multiple-authored articles cannot be used in more than one thesis. In the case of students who have worked collaboratively on projects, it may be preferable for both students to write a traditional format thesis, identifying individual contributions. Consult this page for information on intellectual property and required permissions/waivers.

In the case of co-first authored articles, only one student can use the article in a manuscript-based thesis and must have a written agreement from the other co-first author student(s).

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International License.
Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, McGill University.

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