CBFE Dissertation, Warrant, & Evaluation Rubric

The research presented at the defense hearing should be the final and most-well developed research. The chair or primary advisor will review and approve any work before it is scheduled for a defense.  

A common format for the PhD dissertation is the “three papers” model, consisting of three separate, stand-alone papers, on related topics, each with their own introduction, literature review, model, methods, results, conclusion, and references.  This latter format is designed to make any subsequent publication process easier. The three-paper dissertation normally includes an introductory chapter to provide an overview or context for the three papers and a concluding chapter tying the findings together.

It is normal in the defense hearing for the committee to suggest changes to the draft.  Sometimes these are editorial and require a few days or less to complete, but often they are more substantial, requiring a range of additional work from analysis to re-writing. Committee members may withhold signing off until all work is completed to expectations.

Students are encouraged to frequently present at conferences and the department brown bag seminar.  It is in such seminars and NOT in the defense hearing that students can seek advice on research strategy and interpretation of results.

There are specific Graduate School guidelines about formatting in order to deposit a dissertation:

The committee must be satisfied that the dissertation is an original and significant contribution to knowledge, that the arguments of the thesis are presented coherently, and that the arguments of the thesis are supported adequately by evidence and documentation. The committee must also be satisfied that the student has a broad and intensive knowledge of the topic on which the thesis is written. At a minimum, the chair and two CS faculty must provide positive votes to pass.

Students “deposit” their dissertation electronically with the graduate school.  The instructions for preparing your dissertation or thesis can be found here.


Students must notify the SoHE Graduate Program Coordinator to obtain a warrant from the Graduate School. The warrant should be given to the major professor prior to the defense hearing. If the committee requires revisions, they may sign under the understanding that the major professor will supervise and ensure that the revisions are completed. Faculty may also withhold their signature. When complete, the student will then deliver the signed warrant to the Graduate School and a copy to the Graduate Program Coordinator.

Dissertation Evaluation Rubric


Pass Deficient
Theory Shows strong knowledge of theories and the ability to apply to practical problems proposed Only shows weak knowledge of theories and/or cannot show ability to apply theory to problems
Methods Shows strong knowledge of methods and the ability to apply to research question Only shows basic knowledge and cannot apply methods to research questions proposed
Relevance Can apply findings to applications in real world; able to articulate the dissertation’s contribution to the field and the appropriate policy implications of the work Has findings but cannot translate into real world significance.
Professional Quality Writing and oral presentation are consistent with standards of field. Writing and oral presentation are of poor quality and not acceptable given standards in the student’s desired field.
  • Pass in all areas: no changes or revisions required. All committee members will sign the warrant. Deposit of the document may proceed.
  • Pass in all areas: minor revisions. All committee members sign the warrant but chair reviews final version before deposit. Deposit may be delayed.
  • Deficient in 1 area: No new defense; but changes have to be signed off by defense committee chair and at least one other CS Department committee member after revisions completed and before deposit. Deposit may be delayed by several weeks.
  • Deficient in MORE than one area: Committee may request secondary meeting to review revisions. Most or all committee members may not sign warrant until after further review. Committee may call for another public defense. Deposit may be significantly delayed.


School of Human Ecology Graduate Programs Handbook Copyright © 2022 by Michelle Holland. All Rights Reserved.

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