Thesis FAQ

The following questions were submitted to GPS by a group of current PhD students.

1. Can I use previously-published text verbatim in my traditional-style thesis? E.g., My literature review article in my introduction, the discussion of my primary data article in my thesis discussion, etc.

Yes, but you need to cite your sources, put the text in quotation marks, use proper referencing, and format this as per the relevant style guide manual for your discipline – e.g., MLA, APA, Chicago style.


2. Can I use previously-published text verbatim if I'm not the first-author of the article I'm taking it from, but I contributed to the writing and I know the text is not in any other student's thesis?

Same as above.


3. I have no publications from my thesis work. May I still submit my doctoral thesis? 

Yes. Publications are not a requirement for doctoral thesis submission. However, contributions to original knowledge must be included as mentioned under Thesis Components here.  


4. Can I do a hybrid thesis, with a single primary data article as one chapter and the rest in traditional style? 

No. A manuscript-based thesis can be a combination of a published manuscript and manuscripts in review, in press, or in preparation that are written in manuscript format.


5. Can I do a manuscript-based thesis with only one article?

Yes for Master’s theses only. A manuscript-based doctoral thesis must include the text of a minimum of two manuscripts published, submitted or to be submitted for publication. Articles must be formatted according to the requirements described below.  A manuscript-based Master’s thesis must include the text of one or more manuscripts.

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 here);
  • conform to all other requirements listed under Thesis Components here;
  • 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.


6. If I decide to write a manuscript-based thesis and want to write "articles" for my unpublished data, is there a minimum length or other quality standards for these "articles"?

No, there is no minimum length; however, the draft must be formatted in preparation for submission to an academic journal or book, with all key sections.


7. Can my supervisor read, edit, or comment on my thesis before initial submission, or is he/she not allowed to help at all?

Your supervisor must read, edit, and comment on your thesis before initial submission – this is a main responsibility of a supervisor. Your supervisor signs off approval on the thesis content and format at submission.


8. Do I have to choose my thesis examiners myself or can my supervisor help?

This should be done together with your supervisor.


9. Do I get to help choose my oral defence examining committee or is it a rule that they are chosen by my supervisor alone without my input?

This should be done together with your supervisor.


10. Are there any months during which I cannot submit my initial thesis?



11. Are there any months during which I cannot have my defence?



12. Are there any months during which I cannot submit my final thesis?



13. Is there a minimum/maximum amount of time allowed between my initial thesis submission and defence?

The minimum is 6 weeks, because the examiner needs time to review the thesis. There is no maximum, however you need to remain registered as a full-time student.


14. Do I get to have a say in the approximate time of my defence, once I submit my initial thesis? E.g., Can I ask the program to schedule my defence in Fall if my initial submission is in Spring?

Yes, you have a say. Scheduling should be done in collaboration with your program and in discussion with your supervisor.


15. What happens to my fees and student status after initial thesis submission?

You can submit your initial thesis any time. In the following term, your registration status will change to “thesis evaluation,” which will decrease your fees (see Student Accounts fee calculator).

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

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