The dissertation should be a unique and substantial contribution to the PhD candidate’s area of study. CSCR dissertators may opt for a multi-chapter “classic” social science dissertation, or a multi-article format with at least three publishable pieces based on one framework; typically these pieces would be one conceptual framework/ critical review article, one or more empirical articles, and one practical application or policy article/report. Selection of the optimal format for a particular dissertation should be determined in consultation with a student’s chair and committee.
The time it takes to complete a dissertation and defend it can require one year (following a proposal defense) or more, depending on the scope of the research, format of the dissertation, writing quality and type of research performed. It is wise to work with your advisor on establishing a timeline and benchmarks for completing your dissertation. A dissertation writing group with graduate student peers can also be helpful for making progress and adhering to your timeline. Once the dissertation has been completed, it is circulated to the committee, and an oral defense is scheduled. In addition to the formal defense, it is suggested that students seek other audiences for presentations of their dissertation results, including stakeholders in their research, and colloquia in the School of Human Ecology.