Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Guide

This guide supersedes all previous Auburn University manuals and Guides for the preparation of theses and dissertations. Last updated: October 2015.

View our Sample Pages and try our easy-to-use Templates.

A Latex Template is also available for theses or dissertations containing many equations (typically for mathematics or engineering students).

Auburn University requires a dissertation for all Ph.D. degrees and a thesis for many master’s degrees. The thesis or dissertation is a demonstration of the student’s mastery of the field of study and an example of the student’s creativity, dedication, and the ability to work independently. It should make a significant scholarly contribution.

Auburn University graduate students are also required to demonstrate competency in electronic publication and must submit their theses/dissertations through AUETD (the Auburn University Electronic and Thesis Dissertation Library). AUETD allows a student’s work to be viewed freely by anyone on the World Wide Web.

This Guide provides specific, but minimal, requirements and general guidelines for the preparation of theses and dissertations to ensure that the electronic document is of a consistent high quality and suitable for publication on the world wide web.

Each department is encouraged to provide more specific guidance to students by selecting or developing a style guide (or guides) that is appropriate to the academic discipline of the graduate student preparing the thesis or dissertation for publication. The choice of style guide typically reflects the standards of leading professional or scholarly journals in the academic discipline. With these guidelines in mind, the graduate student’s advisory committee has primary responsibility for judging the acceptability of both the form and content of the electronic thesis or dissertation. Once the advisory committee has reviewed and approved the ETD, the committee attests to the acceptability of the ETD by signing the “Electronic Thesis/Dissertation Final Approval Form,” which the student then submits to the Graduate School.

If there are differences between other style guides and this one, the Graduate School guidelines take precedence.

The Graduate School will also accept theses and dissertations in alternative formats provided that 1) they include the required components in the prescribed order described below in “Order and Components”; 2) they are paginated; 3) they have the approval of the student’s advisory committee; and 4) they are deemed acceptable for publication on the World Wide Web by the Dean of the Graduate School. Students preparing theses or dissertations in an alternative format are encouraged to consult with the Academic Evaluator of Theses and Dissertations at an early stage in the preparation of the electronic document.

The thesis or dissertation is typically organized into three main sections: 1) the preliminary pages; 2) the body; and 3) the reference pages.

Preliminary Pages

The preliminary pages include the title page, abstract, acknowledgments (optional), table of contents, list of tables (required, if applicable), list of figures or illustrations (required, if applicable), and list of abbreviations or symbols (optional).

Preliminary page headings are of a uniform font size (10 point or 12 point), consistent with the font size used throughout the document. All headings in the preliminary pages are centered, two inches from the top of the page. Headings may be in mixed case (e.g., “Table of Contents”) or in all caps (e.g., “TABLE OF CONTENTS”). Mixed case is preferred. All preliminary pages are counted in the pagination, but no page number appears on the title page. All other pages in this section are numbered using lower case Roman numerals (e.g., iii, iv, v, etc.). Page numbers are centered, at least ½” from the bottom of the page.

Title Page (required)

The title page includes (in the following order):

  1. Title In boldface type, centered, 2″ from the top of the page, followed by one blank line
  2. By-line The word “by”, centered, followed by one blank line
  3. Author Your full name, centered, followed by four blank lines
  4. Statement The following statement, centered as illustrated. No blank space separates this statement from the name of your degree, which follows.

A dissertation [or thesis] submitted to the Graduate Faculty of

Auburn University

in partial fulfillment of the

requirements for the Degree of

  1. Degree The name of your degree, centered, for example: “Doctor of Philosophy” or “Master of Science” followed by one blank line
  2. Location The location of the university (e.g., “Auburn, Alabama”), centered
  3. Date Your graduation date, in month/day/year format (e.g., May 14, 2010), centered, followed by four blank lines
  4. Keywords (Optional) The word, “Keywords:” and up to six keywords or phrases, centered, on two lines, followed by two blank lines
  5. Copyright notice (Optional) The word “Copyright” followed by the current year, e.g., 2010, followed by the word “by” and then your full name, followed by two blank lines
  6. Approvals The words “Approved by”, centered, followed by one blank line
  7. Committee Chair The name of your advisory committee chair (or first co-chair) followed by the word “Chair” or “Co-chair”, followed by the person’s academic title (e.g., “Margaret Waters, Chair, Professor of Kinesiology”)
  8. Committee Co-chair or Member The name of your advisory committee co-chair (if any), followed by the word “Co-chair” (if applicable), followed by the person’s academic title, all centered; if no co-chair, then the name of the first advisory committee member, followed by the person’s academic title, all centered.
  9. Committee Members The name of each additional committee member, followed by the person’s title, each on a separate line, all centered

The title page is not numbered but is included in the page count of the preliminary pages.

See Sample and Template.

Abstract (required)

The heading, “Abstract”, is centered, 2″ from the top of the page, followed by two blank lines. The text of the abstract begins on the following line at the left margin (the first line is indented). The text generally should not exceed 150 words for a thesis and 350 words for a dissertation. The Abstract is the first page to include a page number (e.g., page “ii”). The page number, in Roman numerals, is centered, at least ½” from the bottom of the page.

See Sample and Template.

Acknowledgments (optional)

The heading, “Acknowledgments”, should be centered 2″ from the top of the page, followed by two blank lines. The acknowledgments begin on the following line at the left margin (the first line is indented). The page number, in Roman numerals, is centered, at least ½” from the bottom of the page.

See Sample and Template.

Table of Contents (required)

The heading, “Table of Contents”, is centered 2″ from the top of the page, followed by two blank lines. The Table of Contents lists all parts of the document (except the title page) and the page numbers on which each part begins. The titles of all parts are worded exactly as they appear in the document. These titles are aligned (not indented) with the left margin. Titles and headings and the page numbers on which they begin are separated by a row of dot leaders. Page numbers are aligned flush with the right margin. Entries are generally double-spaced; however, titles and headings of more than one line are indented at the second line and single-spaced. The list of contents begins at the left margin on the fourth line below the heading. The page number, in Roman numerals, is centered, at least ½” from the bottom of the page.

See Sample and Template.

List of Tables (required, if applicable)

A List of Tables is required if the document includes tables. The heading, “List of Tables”, should be centered 2″ from the top of the page, followed by two blank lines. The list of tables begins at the left margin, on the fourth line below the heading. The page number, in Roman numerals, is centered, at least ½” from the bottom of the page.

See Sample and Template.

List of Figures or Illustrations (required, if applicable)

A List of Figures or Illustrations is required if the document includes figures or illustrations. The heading, “List of Figures”, or “List of Illustrations”, is centered 2″ from the top of the page, followed by two blank lines. The list begins at the left margin, on the fourth line below the heading. The page number, in Roman numerals, is centered, at least ½” from the bottom of the page.

See Sample and Template.

List of Abbreviations or Symbols (optional)

If a significant number of abbreviations or symbols (sometimes called “Nomenclature”) are used in the document, a list of abbreviations or symbols may be included. The heading, “List of Abbreviations”, or “List of Symbols”, is centered 2″ from the top of the page, followed by two blank lines. The list begins at the left margin, on the fourth line below the heading. The page number, in Roman numerals, is centered, at least ½” from the bottom of the page.

See Sample and Template.

Body (required)

The body typically includes all divisions of the text, such as parts, chapters, sections, and subsections. It may also include parenthetical references, footnotes, or references to the bibliography or endnotes.

The body of the document should be formatted consistently throughout. Consult departmental guidelines for the standard format(s) in your discipline.

The body may include one (or more) paper(s) submitted (or to be submitted) to a peer reviewed scholarly journal, each as a separate chapter. Formatting (including footnotes or endnotes and the citation of references) must still be consistent throughout the document.

Reference Pages (required)

The reference pages include the list of references and any (optional) appendices.

References (required)

Consult departmental guidelines for the standard format(s) in your discipline.

Appendices (optional)

All appendices (if any) are placed at the end of the document and labeled with a heading. Consult departmental guidelines for labeling standard(s) in your discipline.

Margins

The document should have uniform text margins throughout the document. Set margins of at least one inch on all sides (top, left, right, and bottom).

Exceptions:

Headings. Any pages with a major heading (e.g., most preliminary pages) should have a 2″ top margin.

Pagination. Page numbers should be set at least ½” from the bottom of the page.

Binding Note: If you plan to print and bind your document, a left margin of 1.5″ is recommended.

Font Size and Type

Size. The selected font should be 10 to 12 points in size. Subscripts and superscripts should be no more than 2 points smaller than the size of the text font.

Type. Embedded fonts, such as Post Script Type 1, are required. Embedded fonts “travel” with the document, enabling that readers see the document as it was intended to be viewed. Standard fonts such as Times New Roman or Arial are recommended. Limit the use of italicized type to non-English words and quotations.

Spacing and Indentation

Spacing and indentation should be consistent throughout the document. Consult departmental guidelines for the standard(s) in your discipline.

For conventional documents, double spacing is preferred, but 1.5″ spacing is acceptable. Single spacing is recommended for the following: bibliographical entries (with double-spacing between entries), long quotations, long endnotes or footnotes, long captions, and long headings.

Pagination

Pagination should be consistent throughout the document.

All pages are numbered except for the title page.

Preliminary pages: Use lower case Roman numerals (i, ii, iii, iv, etc.).

Body and reference pages: Use Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, 4, etc.).

Center all page numbers within the margins at least ½” from the bottom of the page.

Footnotes and Endnotes

Consult departmental guidelines for the standard(s) in your discipline.

Tables, Illustrations, and Figures

All tables (illustrations, figures, etc.) should be numbered, labeled, and oriented consistently throughout the document. Consult departmental guidelines for the standard(s) in your discipline.

Use of Human Subjects

The Auburn University Institutional Review Board for the Protection of Human Subjects (IRB) reviews all research activities that involve the use of human subjects, regardless of funding, for compliance with applicable regulations and ethical research principles. All Auburn University faculty, staff, and/or student Principal Investigators (PI’s) conducting human subject research must obtain approval from the IRB before the research may be conducted. All non-AU PI’s conducting research on AU premises or facilities or with AU staff, students, or faculty must also receive IRB approval. For more information about submitting a protocol for IRB review, please visit: http://www.auburn.edu/research/vpr/ohs/

Multiple Authorship

A dissertation or thesis must be the result of the student’s own research, analysis, and writing, and generally must be the work of a single author. When articles prepared for publication in a professional journal or journals are included in a dissertation or thesis, multiple authorship may be permitted if the student is the primary author. Papers that include other authors can be used provided that the efforts of the other authors represent less than half of the total effort. The primary (student) author’s effort should represent, in the judgment of the faculty supervisor and the student’s advisory committee, a majority of the total effort expended in performing the research and preparing the manuscript (51 percent or more).

Use of Copyrighted Material

The use of copyrighted materials in a thesis or dissertation requires the permission of the copyright holder. The student is responsible for securing all necessary permissions, beyond what is permitted by “fair use,” and for paying any permission fees. For a more comprehensive discussion of copyright, please read Copyright and Your Dissertation or Thesis.

Copyright Registration

Students have the option of copyrighting the thesis or dissertation. Although the U.S. Copyright Office notes that copyright is secured automatically when the work is created in a fixed form, there are advantages to registration. For information about “Copyright Basics” and “Frequently Asked Questions About Copyright,” see the U.S. Copyright Office website.

If the student intends to copyright the dissertation through the Graduate School, the Thesis/Dissertation Copyright Registration form must be filled out and signed. Students who choose this option will have a $55 charge placed on their student Bursar bill.

Embargos or Restricted Access

Students have the option of restricting public access to the thesis or dissertation for a period of up to five years. An embargo is usually requested if the student anticipates that immediate publication will have an adverse effect on subsequent publication opportunities. The length of the embargo should be indicated on the ETD Final Approval Form (although the Publishing Agreement checkbox indicates a two year maximum, a maximum up to five years may be indicated).

Paper Copies

The Graduate School neither requires nor accepts paper copies of theses and dissertations; however, individual departments and/or major professors may continue to require paper copies. Students should consult with their advisor and/or department for requirements.

Binding

Students who need bound paper copies to satisfy departmental or advisory committee requirements are advised to consult with the Graduate School for available options. A 1.5″ left margin is recommended for documents to be printed and bound.

The National Library Bindery Company in Roswell, Georgia, offers binding services to students. Contact them at nlbga@mindspring.com or 770-442-5490/800-422-7908.

Thesis Approval

The student researches and prepares the thesis under the guidance of the major professor and with the advice of members of the advisory committee. The thesis is first submitted to the major professor, who may consider it adequate or may require corrections, additional research, or other work. When the major professor is satisfied with the thesis, a copy is circulated among the committee members, who may request additional revisions or research. The student then prepares a revision incorporating all changes and corrections.

The student should then have the Thesis and Dissertation Office conduct a format check by submitting the thesis electronically (email to thesis@auburn.edu) to the Thesis and Dissertation Office (in a single file, in PDF format). A student ready to defend the thesis should download a Form 9, “Report of Master’s Thesis Candidate Examining Committee.” This form is necessary to proceed to the final oral examination. The student must take Form 9 to the final oral examination and then must submit the signed Form 9 to the Graduate School by the deadline required for graduation in a given semester.

Upon the student’s successful completion of the oral examination and a final draft of the thesis that meets their approval, the major professor and the committee members formally approve by signing the Electronic Thesis/Dissertation Final Approval Form.  This form will include a section for the student to choose their Publication Options (Traditional Publishing or Open Access Publishing). The fee for the chosen publication option will be placed on the student’s bursar bill.

The major professor and the committee members normally will sign the form at the final oral examination. However, they may delay signing if they determine that additional work is still required. In that case, it will be necessary for the student to obtain the signatures when all work is completed to the satisfaction of the major professor and the committee. The student must remember that there can be no substitute committee members and no one may sign for an absent committee member or copy a committee member’s signature without the permission of the Dean of the Graduate School.

If the student intends to copyright the thesis through the Graduate School, the Thesis/Dissertation Copyright Registration form must be filled out and signed. Students who choose this option will have a $55 charge placed on their student Bursar bill.

When all work is completed and the signatures obtained, the student takes the completed Electronic Thesis/Dissertation Final Approval Form to the Thesis and Dissertation office for final approval. At this time, the student should submit the ETD for final review. The student must turn in the Electronic Thesis/Dissertation Final Approval Form and submit the ETD for final review by the Graduate School’s deadline to graduate in the same semester.

Dissertation Approval

Following written examinations, the student downloads Form A – application for the general oral examination and returns the completed form to the Graduate School at least one week–five working days–before the day on which the examination is to be held.

After passing these examinations, the student researches and prepares the dissertation under the guidance of the major professor with the advice of members of the student’s advisory committee. The dissertation is first submitted to the major professor, who may consider it satisfactory or may require additional revision or research. When the major professor is satisfied with the dissertation, a copy of the dissertation is circulated among the committee members, who may also suggest revisions or additional research. The student then revises the dissertation, incorporating all of the required changes. The major professor and advisory committee indicate their approval of the dissertation by signing the Dissertation First Submission Approval Form.

The student then submits the approved dissertation electronically (email to doctoral@auburn.edu) to the Thesis and Dissertation Office (in a single file, in PDF format). At the same time, the student takes the Dissertation First Submission Approval Form to the Thesis and Dissertation Office, including the name of the person recommended as the University reader. As the representative of The Graduate School, the University reader will review the dissertation and serve on the student’s committee during the final examination. For more information, see University Readers for Dissertations.

When the University reader returns the dissertation evaluation form to the Graduate School, the student will be notified electronically so that the University reader’s comments and suggestions may be addressed.

Form X, which will be e-mailed to the student, must be completed and returned to the Thesis and Dissertation office at least one week–five working days–before the day of the final examination. The final examination should be scheduled before the deadline specified on the Graduate School’s website.

Following the final oral examination, the major professor and committee members may determine that additional work is still required. In that case, it will be necessary for the student to submit the final electronic copy of the dissertation when all work is completed to the satisfaction of the major professor and the committee.

When all work is completed and the signatures obtained, the student takes the completed Electronic Thesis/Dissertation Final Approval Form to the Thesis and Dissertation office for final approval. This form will include a section for the student to choose their Publication Options (Traditional Publishing or Open Access Publishing). The fee for the chosen publication option will be placed on the student’s bursar bill.

If the student intends to copyright the dissertation through the Graduate School, the Thesis/Dissertation Copyright Registration form must be filled out and signed. Students who choose this option will have a $55 charge placed on their student Bursar bill.

At this time, the student should also complete the Survey of Earned Doctorates. Last of all, the student should submit the ETD for final review. The student must submit the ETD for final review by the Graduate School’s deadline to graduate in the same semester.

Submit the approved thesis or dissertation, following the steps described below.

Submitting the ETD

Prepare your approved ETD in PDF format (a single file).

Go to the AUETD website at http://etd.auburn.edu.

Sign in to AUETD using your Auburn ID and password and click “Sign in”.

Click on “Submit an Electronic Thesis or Dissertation”.

 

Follow AUETD submission instructions, and that’s it.

AUETD will send you a confirmation email when your submission has been approved or rejected for needing corrections.

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