Thesis Preparation and Presentation

Before you do anything else obtain the following: (1) The deadline dates for the various fees and documents required; (2) a copy of the latest "Thesis Form Style Guide." You should obtain both of these directly from their source, The Graduate School Office, 401 Hill Hall, so as to establish at least a minimal personal relationship with those who enforce many of the rules and deadlines you must satisfy.

I. Revisions and Corrections. It is the job of the candidate and the thesis supervisor, working together, to put the thesis into polished form, comparable to a submitted manuscript, before the committee gets it. To expect your committee either to ignore or to have to correct poor spelling, grammar, journal style, etc. will generate animosity you can ill afford. Other aspects of revision are discussed in Sect. II below.

II. Deadlines and Timing. Put on your calendar the various deadlines you have ascertained. Your thesis exam should be scheduled for a date at least a week before the Graduate School deadline for thesis submission. It is extraordinary for a thesis to be accepted in exactly the form in which the committee receives it. Some revision is the rule, and extensive revision and correction are commonly required even after the exam is passed. You must anticipate this and allow time. You should give the Committee its copies of the thesis two weeks before the exam date. As you deliver each thesis copy, make an appointment to visit the committee member during the week before the exam to collect corrections and complaints. This will give you an idea of where you stand on revisions and allow you to start correcting before the exam.

III. Format. Read in its entirety the "Thesis Form Style Guide", which outlines the requirements of the Graduate School. Besides this, the Chemistry Program requires that the thesis follow the format of one of the major (normally ACS) journals. Most frequently this is J. Am. Chem. Soc. or J. Org. Chem., but another is acceptable with the approval of your thesis supervisor. Looking at someone else's completed thesis may be generally helpful, but for details you should follow not a thesis, but the style source: the "Notice to Authors" (issue No. 1 each year) and the actual current practice of the specific journal you have chosen. This applies to major divisions (Introduction, Results, Discussion, Experimental, etc.), and to narrative style (avoidance of first person singular, etc.), as well as to the style and format for abbreviations, punctuation, tables, figures, schemes, references, footnotes, the Experimental Section, and every other significant aspect of the written thesis, just as though you were preparing a manuscript for submission to your chosen journal.

IV. Thesis Exam. Prepare to present your thesis work in an oral condensation no longer than about 30 min. Do not assume that you have achieved such condensation without rehearsing and timing yourself. Slides or transparencies are easily made from the illustrations already prepared for your thesis. Since the non-deliberative parts of thesis exams (i.e., presentation & questioning) are open to the "public," you may wish to attend someone else's exam to prepare yourself for the experience.