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Writing Your Doctoral Thesis

Note: What appears below, with permission, is a slightly edited version of unofficial advice from MGSA, the UC Berkeley Mathematics Graduate Student Associate, with Berkeley specific information removed. Information specific to filing a doctoral thesis at UC Davis can be found via the Grad Studies website.

LaTeX Dissertation Template

There are several websites dedicated to Using LaTeX to Write a PhD Thesis. But since you're in the UC Davis math department, your best bet is to use a template that was specifically created for UC Davis math students. Here is a very nice template created by Tyrell McAllister, updated in 2015 by Jeff Irion with minor changes in order to conform to the format that the Office of Graduate Studies requires, and again in 2019 by John Challenor to remove the headers and the previous degree line from the title page.

Once you pass your Qual, download the dissertation template! Fill in some basic info (name, major, committee members' names, etc.), and add to your dissertation while you work on your research. After all, it's easier to write and cite as you go than to do it months/years later when that stuff isn't fresh in your mind.

Another template that complies with UCD's requirements was created by Sean Whalen and can be found on GitHub

Writing a Master's or Ph.D. Thesis

(Thanks to Megumi Harada) Steps to your goal:

  • Start early. Jot down notes when you talk to your advisor. Keep them somewhere that you'll be able to find them again. Often, you find that little notes you write can serve as a “seed” to start the writing process.
  • Write a little each day. Obvious, and yet few people follow this advice. Even just one hour a day, divided into four 15-minute sessions, goes a long way if you keep at it for a month.
  • Get your advisor to look at small parts of drafts and chapters early on.

How To Graduate: The Paperwork

This is an unofficial guide. Please see Preparing & Filing Your Thesis or Dissertation for the official set of instructions.

  • Take note of the filing deadlines. They recommend completing your dissertation in time to give it to your committee for review at the beginning of the quarter in which you intend to graduate. In most cases, your committee probably won't need that much time, but you should check in with your committee members well in advance to make sure they'll be around when you need them.
  • Once your committee members have signed your dissertation's title page, you can file your dissertation electronically (see the Grad Studies website linked above for the specific instructions). The Grad Studies office will review it to make sure that it is formatted correctly and let you know if any corrections need to be made. They will then inform you when your dissertation has been approved, after which time no further changes are allowed.
  • The final step is to make an appointment with the Senior Academic Advisor for Mathematics and Applied Mathematics (as of Spring 2019, this is Brad Wolf). This appointment can't take place until at least two business days after you file your dissertation online (and it must have been approved). The purpose of this appointment is to file the remaining paperwork and receive an official letter confirming your degree.

As of Spring 2019, the documents you will need to bring are as follows (see the official checklist here).

  • Your title page with the signatures of your committee members.
  • One copy of your abstract.
  • The dissertation embargo agreement (this requires your advisor's signature even if you aren't planning on an embargo on your dissertation).
  • Two online surveys: The Survey of Earned Doctorates and the Graduate Studies Exit Survey. Each will give you a completion code which you will need to provide.
  • The Graduate Program Exit Information form. As of Spring 2019, this requires a signature from either Sarah or Tina.

The three documents with signatures obviously must be physical copies. The other item can be emailed to the Academic Advisor when you set up your appointment.

thesistips.txt · Last modified: 2019/06/02 23:33 by jchallenor