How Do I Begin?

  • I've finished classes and all of my qualifying tests, so what is the first thing I need to do to start my thesis/dissertation?
    • The first step on your road to writing your thesis/dissertation is the selection of a committee chairperson. From there, you and your chair will select the rest of your committee. Your committee chair can help you make sure you complete all of the required forms before you start your research. If you have any questions, you can always contact the Thesis-Dissertation office in the School of Graduate Studies and Research (120 Stright Hall) or email
  • Is funding available for my research project?
    • Funding is available, on a competitive basis, through the graduate research grant. Funding is also available for graduate students to present their research at professional meetings. See the graduate student research funding information.
  • What forms and approvals are required before I start my research?
    • All students completing a thesis or dissertation must submit an RTAF and it must be received by the School of Graduate Studies and Research before the applicable deadline. Many students will also need IRB or IACUC approval. Once you have submitted the RTAF and IRB/IACUC (if applicable) documents, the School of Graduate Studies and Research will review these documents for approval. You may not commence research until after you receive an official notification from the School of Graduate Studies and Research indicating your RTAF has been approved. The notification will be sent to your IUP email address.
  • What's an RTAF, and where and when do I need to submit it?
    • RTAF stands for Research Topic Approval Form. You must fill this out after you form your committee, but before you begin the actual work on your thesis/dissertation.
    • Accessing the Electronic RTAF:
      • In the current MyIUP portal,
        • Sign in to MyIUP and log in with your username and network password.
        • Select the Academics page and find the Graduate Student Resources section.
        • Click on Research Topic Approval Form.
      • In the new MyIUP portal:
        • Log in to MyIUP and go to Discover.
        • Search for "graduate" and click on Graduate Student Resources.
        • Click on Research Topic Approval Form.
      • Continue in either portal and follow the on-screen instructions. Note: This form is not compatible with Internet Explorer.
  • What are the deadlines for submitting theses/dissertations?


  • How do I select a committee?
    • You should choose a committee chairperson when thesis or dissertation work begins. The chairperson must be qualified to serve as a chairperson according to the IUP School of Graduate Studies and Research Criteria for Teaching Graduate Courses policy for graduate faculty membership. Members of a dissertation committee must also be approved under this policy. See the Current List of Eligible Faculty Members.
  • Can I have an expert from outside IUP serve on my committee?
  • What should I do if my committee changes?
    • If your committee changes, you will need to submit a new electronic RTAF through your MyIUP account.  Email to inform them of the reason for the new RTAF submission.
  • What are my options if the chair of my thesis/dissertation committee is retiring before I defend?
    • Your thesis/dissertation committee chair may continue to serve as your chair for one year after their date of retirement if certain criteria have been met.  You will need to defend your dissertation/thesis within that one-year time frame; if you do not, a new RTAF will need submitted with an active IUP faculty member who has current graduate teaching eligibility status, listed as committee chair.
    • If your thesis/dissertation committee chair will no longer be serving then you will need to select a new committee chair, which may be a member already serving on your committee or a new member to the committee. They will need to be an active IUP faculty member who has current graduate teaching eligibility status.

    •  For doctoral students, a faculty member must have current doctoral level graduate eligibility status to chair a dissertation committee.

    •  For master's students, a faculty member must have current masters' level graduate eligibility status to chair a thesis committee.

  • Where can my chair find info about compensation for chairing my thesis or dissertation?

Copyright Issues

  • Are the rules governing the use of copyrighted materials any different for ETDs (Electronic Theses and Dissertations) compared to hard-copy theses and dissertations?
    • No. The only exception would be if your ETD required a licensed application or reader program in order to make your ETD readable or useful. In that case, you would need to consult the licensing agreement to see if you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
  • What does "fair use" mean?
    • Since a dissertation or thesis is published for nonprofit educational purposes, the author is permitted limited use of copyrighted material under the guidelines of "fair use." The purpose, amount, nature, and effect of the work reproduced determine whether or not one must seek permission from the copyright owner.
  • What are some examples of things that I probably would need to get copyright permission for?
    • Items that you would want to pay special attention to would be materials such as graphs, charts, data, pictures, maps, illustrations, long quotations, questionnaires, journal articles, music, archival material, unpublished works, computer software, and creative works such as poetry, novels, and plays.
  • Where can I go for more information about copyright issues in general, as well as those related to ETDs?

Submitting Your Thesis/Dissertation

  • Can I turn in my draft for review before I defend?
    • Yes, once it is approved by your committee. Please keep in mind that we only review content for format and compliance. You may want to submit your thesis/dissertation to the Graduate Editing Service at the IUP Writing Center prior to submitting it to us.
  • Should I turn in a paper copy of my thesis/dissertation for review, or should I email it?
    • No. Please email your copy either as a Word document or PDF. That way we all save some paper.
  • Why should I submit a thesis electronically?
    • By preparing an ETD and submitting it electronically, you may be able to better convey the message of your dissertation in an electronic document. Color diagrams, color images, hypertext links, audio, video, animations, spreadsheets, databases, simulations, and virtual reality worlds can be included in your document.
    • Submitting electronically makes your research available to a global audience and not sequestered on a shelf in our library.
    • Furthermore, you will learn about electronic document preparation and about digital libraries. These skills can help prepare you for your future role in the Information Age, whether you teach, conduct research, or use the research results of others.
  • If I submit electronically, can I still get paper copies?


  • How can I convert my dissertation to PDF?
  • What other electronic formats are allowed?
    • The text-based portion of the dissertation must be a PDF file. You may use the following additional permitted file types already approved and supported by ProQuest's UMI division for electronic dissertations: image files as .gif, .jpeg, or .tif; video files as .mov, .mpg, or .avi; and audio files as .aif, .midi, .snd, .wav, or as CD-DA, CD-ROM/XA, or MPEG-2.
  • Can I submit multiple PDFs in my ETD?
    • No. Only one PDF is allowed.
  • Are there any size limits imposed on ETDs?
    • No. However, to ensure that readers will be able to download and use your ETD in the future, it is important to keep the size to a minimum. The average size of ETDs is less than 5 MB.

The Thesis/Dissertation Review Process

  • What do you look for when I submit for review?
    • We will check that your formatting complies with your chosen style manual and the university's formatting templates for front matter. We will also confirm that you have obtained all necessary approvals to conduct research, including but not limited to RTAF, IRB, IACUC, and outside readers. Additionally, we will review the document for plagiarism using iThenticate software. You will receive an electronic copy of the iThenticate report with your format revision notes.
  • How will my thesis/dissertation be reviewed with iThenticate?
    • When you send your thesis or dissertation to the SGSR for review, we will upload it to iThenticate. The iThenticate software will compare your document to over 32 billion web pages and 125 million content items, including 34 million published works. iThenticate will automatically generate a report flagging sections of the thesis or dissertation that bear some percentage of similarity to published content. Each student will be sent an electronic copy of the iTHenticate report along with the other formatting documents already sent by the SGSR. The SGSR will carefully review the report produced by iThenticate and notify the student of possible missed citations and trivial errors. If it appears that there is a significant amount of potentially plagiarized material, the student, committee chair, graduate coordinator, and assistant dean for research will be notified for further investigation and for possible noncompliance with the university's Academic Integrity Policy.
  • Will each quote and/or citation in my thesis/dissertation be flagged?
    • No. The iThenticate software allows the SGSR to set filters to exclude quotations and bibliographic information.
  • Will my thesis/dissertation be added to an iThenticate database?
    • No. Your thesis/dissertation will NOT be added to any iThenticate databases during the review process.
  • Can I check my thesis/dissertation with iThenticate before the SGSR does so?
    • Unfortunately, the SGSR's iThenticate license does not provide enough submissions for students to check their work.
  • When I submit for review, do you make the corrections, or will you send it back to me with revision notes?
    • We will email you revision notes. We do not make any corrections to your thesis/dissertation.
  • After you finish looking over my thesis/dissertation, do I resubmit it to you for approval?
    • That's not necessary unless there were significant formatting issues, but we would be happy to look over your corrected thesis/dissertation if you so wish. We review your thesis/dissertation after you have submitted it to Proquest, and additional edits may be required at that time.

Citing and Publishing ETDs

  • How do I correct my ETD after it appears on the IUP Libraries server?
    • You can't. If you need to make corrections, you must contact the Thesis/Dissertation Office.
  • How do I cite an ETD?

Please address all thesis and dissertation questions to