Writing Your Thesis

The following text is a supplement to the FGPS regulations and applies to graduate programs in Cellular and Molecular Medicine and Neuroscience. Students must read the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (FGPS) regulations governing the thesis.

Please Note:
Information
  1. A student should write and prepare to submit a thesis only after he/she has received approval from the thesis advisory committee (TAC). At this meeting, it is expected that the TAC will complete the Permission to Begin Full-Time Thesis Writing form and to decide which thesis format is appropriate for the thesis. If necessary, the TAC will complete the Permission to Write a Thesis by Article form.
  2. A thesis is accepted only if a candidate has completed all other requirements of his/her program.

1. Nomination of Examiners

Prior to submission of the thesis, the supervisor must submit a list of examiners to the Graduate Program using the Nomination of Examiners form. All potential examiners listed must have agreed to examine the thesis and are available for the oral defence. No more than one member of the Thesis Advisory Committee can be appointed as a thesis examiner.

For a Ph.D. thesis, the supervisor should nominate at least two potential external examiners for the thesis and should include a CV for each for assessment of conflict of interest. A potential conflict of interest can occur when, but is not limited to (from FGPS website):

  • A proposed external examiner is, or was in the last six years, from the same university, organization or department, or belongs or belonged, in the last six years, to the same research unit as the supervisor(s) or the candidate; or
  • There is an administrative or family link between the proposed external examiner and the supervisor(s) or candidate; or
  • A proposed external examiner is an industrial or government representative who is, or was in the last six years, directly involved in collaborative activities with the supervisor(s) or candidate; or
  • A proposed external examiner is a former research supervisor, graduate student, or postdoctoral trainee of the supervisor(s); or
  • A proposed external examiner has collaborated or published with the supervisor(s) or candidate within the past six years.

2. Format of the Thesis

Two formats are accepted for a thesis.

2.1. Format of the Classical Thesis

  • Preliminary pages (page i, iii, iii…):

Title page

Authorization (for the use of figures and tables that have been published in scientific journals)

Abstract

Table of contents

List of tables

List of figures

List of abbreviations

Acknowledgments

  • The main body (pages 1, 2, 3…) is divided as follows:

Introduction

Materials and Methods

Results

Discussion

References

Appendices

2.2. Format of the Collection of Published Papers

  • Preliminary pages (page i, iii, iii…):

As described above for the classical thesis

  • The main body (pages 1, 2, 3…) is divided as follows:

General Introduction

Manuscript #1

Manuscript #2

Manuscript #...

General Discussion

References (of all sections)

Appendices

2.3. General Guidelines for Thesis Format

  • An established font and paragraph style must be followed consistently throughout the thesis. The thesis should be double-spaced using margins: 1.5" from the left edge of the paper, 1" from the top, bottom and right edge. Units and symbols should conform to the international system of units.
  • Avoid the use of jargon, nouns as adjectives, split infinitives, improper matching of subjects and verbs, changes of tense in mid-paragraph and redundancy and verbosity. More than a very few errors in spelling or typography leave an impression of carelessness on the examiners.

The title page should include:

  • the Thesis title
  • the name of the student
  • The following statement must also appear: This thesis is submitted as a partial fulfillment of the M.Sc. (or Ph.D.) program in Neuroscience or Cellular Molecular Medicine.
  • Date of Submission.
  • Place of Submission.
  • Copyright

Abstract

  • Statement of the problem (1 sentence).
  • Methods of investigation (1-2 sentences).
  • Major findings. Avoid detailing numbers.
  • Main conclusion (1 sentence)

Introduction (Classical Thesis) or General Introduction (Collection of Manuscripts)

  • A critical review of the literature, pertinent theory and experiment. It should not exceed 25 pages.
  • A formulation of the problem (objectives), and/or statement of the hypothesis to be tested.
  • The importance of the chosen problem.
  • An outline of your approach to the problem. In the case of a collection of manuscripts, this may be important to direct the reader throughout the different manuscripts. The student may also add 1 or 2 pages of text between two manuscripts to give a better continuity.

Manuscripts (Collection of Manuscripts only)

  • The text should be exactly as submitted or as published in the Journal.
  • Indicate if the manuscript has been submitted, in press or published with the name of the journal.
  • Add a page immediately after the title page to indicate the contribution of the co-authors. If the student is not the first author, explain why.
  • Do not keep tables and figures at the end of the manuscript (as per submission). Instead reorganize their location so they appear within the Results Section at the appropriate places.
  • Figure and table must appear on the same page as their legend.
  • References must be reorganized so that they are in a separate section at the end of the thesis for all sections (i.e., general introduction, methods, manuscripts and general discussion)

Methods (Classical thesis only)

The best guidelines for this section are the papers you read from the literature.

Results (Classical thesis only)

  • The text should describe the results and figure and table legends contain a short title, a brief description of the methodology, primarily the experimental design, a description of the symbols (if applicable) and a description of the statistics used (if applicable).
  • The figure or table and their legend should appear on the same page.
  • Avoid repeating a description of the results in the figure legends, but rather keep the description of the results in the body of the results section and not in the figure or table legend.

Discussion (Classical thesis)

  • First, emphasize the most important contributions of the research. The discussion must not merely recapitulate results or review the literature.
  • It is essential to discuss the research in relationship to the literature and to assess the significance of the findings.
  • Conclusions

Discussion (Collection of Manuscripts)

  • Remember that you have discussed your results in the individual manuscripts. Thus, this section must not be a repeat of those discussions
  • Give an overall overview of your major findings, their significance to our knowledge.
  • This section should not exceed 10 pages.

References (Classical thesis and Collection of Manuscripts)

  • There must be only one reference list for the entire thesis, even if it is a collection of manuscript.
  • It is recommended to use a 'name-year' system, and to list references in alphabetical order (alphabetical name-year format). The only exception is the Reference lists of each manuscript, which should appear as in the Journal where the paper is published.
  • Journal abbreviations are found in Index Medicus (January issue). Example: Author, A., B. Author, and C. Author. 1998. Title of paper. J. Cell Biol. 58, 180-192.

Appendix (Classical Thesis and Collection of Manuscripts)

This section can contain:

  • Technical details.
  • Composition of chemicals.
  • Tables and Figures of data that are necessary to show but that are not part of manuscripts
  • Raw data

The supervisor is expected to review the thesis before submission. To facilitate the revision process by the supervisor, both student and supervisor should agree on a time schedule in advance. Once the thesis is deemed ready to submit, the thesis supervisor must complete the Statement of Thesis Supervisor for Submission of Thesis form

Following submission of the thesis to the Graduate Program Office, the thesis examiners have 4 weeks to review it. Information of the evaluation of a thesis can be found in General Regulation G.5.

3. Thesis Defence

For MSc candidates

If the examination committee deems a thesis ready for defence, the student will be given two weeks to prepare. During the defence, the candidate will begin with a short presentation (10-20 min.) in which they will:

  • Clearly state the problem.
  • Briefly indicate the theory, the working hypotheses, the procedures, the results and their interpretation.
  • Emphatically underline the principal findings and conclusions.
  • Use visual aids to illustrate major findings

Following the presentation, the examiners will begin rounds of questioning, moderated by the thesis defence chair. Questioning will end when the examiners are satisfied and deliberation, in the absence of the student will begin. Please consult the regulations governing the thesis defence.

For PhD candidates, please consult the PhD Oral Defence procedure.

Back to top