Dissertation Seminar

In the final semester of course work (after completion of a minimum of 33 hours), students will take the Dissertation Seminar, ENGL 892, a three-hour course that will be offered each fall term. The purpose of the seminar is two-fold: first, to prepare for and take the doctoral candidacy exam by generating reading lists and questions; and second to conduct preliminary research toward a formal dissertation prospectus. The products of the seminar will include a field bibliography and an annotated bibliography associated with the prospectus (developed over the summer) and proposed questions for the candidacy examination and a draft dissertation prospectus (composed during the fall)

Dissertation Candidacy Examination

During the term in which the student takes the Dissertation Seminar, she/he must pass the candidacy exam and complete a draft of their prospectus to advance to ABD (all but dissertation) status and pass the class. The candidacy exam will be taken mid-semester with five questions developed collaboratively by an individual student and the dissertation chair. The five questions address the following:

  1. Field of study 1 (e.g., Rhetoric)
  2. Field of study 2 (e.g., New Media) or Relationship Between Field of Study 1 and English Studies
  3. Dissertation 1 (e.g., How do you see your dissertation contributing to the field? How would you argue for the relevance of your project at a conference?)
  4. Dissertation 2 (e.g., How does your dissertation fit within the broader field of English Studies? How would you argue for its relevance in front of an entire English department?)
  5. Methodology (e.g., qualitative, quantitative, mixed methods; students should consider focusing on the methods they favor for their project)

Each student will be asked one field of study question, one dissertation question, and one methodology question.

Dissertation Committees

The committee will consist of at least three members. As of the 2012 Graduate Catalog, three committee members must be from Old Dominion University; one committee member must be external to the major department/school. Therefore, the dissertation committee must have at least two members from Old Dominion University’s Department of English. The rest of the committee make-up must follow these guidelines:

  • If the external reader is from Old Dominion University, then the committee can consist of just three members, although four members are encouraged.
  • If the external reader is from another institution, then there must be four members on the committee; one of the three ODU members, in addition to the member external to ODU, can be from outside the Department of English.

The external reader should be 1) a doctoral-certified ODU faculty member not working in the Department of English or 2) a faculty member inside or outside of an English department at a four-year institution that is not ODU and who brings relevant expertise to the student’s project. Exceptions to these parameters (e.g., experts in the field, an ODU English faculty member in a discipline outside of the project’s primary scope) need to be proposed in a letter to the PhD Advisory Council who will then make decisions on a case-by-case basis.

Dissertation Prospectus

Students are required to defend their prospectus no later than two years after they achieve ABD status. The purpose of the prospectus hearing is for the student to justify the project; the committee, in turn, will assess the viability of the project and provide feedback and advice to the student.

Dissertation Process

During the course of nine credit hours (schedule to be determined by the student), all PhD students must write a dissertation, understood to be a document equivalent in length to a published scholarly monograph (c. 65,000-85,000 words) that makes an original contribution to scholarly inquiry about the topic it addresses. If the student’s proposed dissertation committee approves the prospectus, the student will proceed to research and write the dissertation. Dissertation students will enroll in 9 hours of dissertation credit during the research and writing phase. During this time the student should be working closely with the dissertation chair and consult committee members as needed. Also the student is required to attend one college-sponsored workshop about editing the dissertation.

Dissertation Defense

When the dissertation chair and the student agree that the dissertation ready to be defended, the student will need to work with the committee to determine a day and time for the defense (Doodle polls work well for this). Dissertation defenses are scheduled for two hours. Once a day and time are determined, the student should contact the office of the GPD with a completed Prospectus Hearing Plan form; the GPD will then make the final arrangements for the oral defense of the dissertation. By university rules, such a defense is open to the university community. The dissertation committee–the chair and the remaining committee members–will examine and vote upon the suitability of the project; it should be worthy as a piece of sustained, original scholarship that meets the appropriate standard for doctoral research. The dissertation is considered approved when so indicated by a majority of the defense committee, pending final editing and approval of the project by the GPD and dean’s office.

Depositing the Dissertation

After the defense, the student will use the committee’s requirements and recommendations to revise and edit the dissertation which will need to be reviewed and approved by the committee, via the chair, prior to depositing it. To deposit the dissertation, the student will submit an electronic copy of the text and the Thesis/Dissertation Tracking form (signed by the chair) to the GPD who will sign the form and forward it to the college editor. During this time the student and college editor will work together to prepare the text for electronic depositing on ProQuest. Once the college editor approves the text for editing, 1) the student will deposit the text through ProQuest and 2) the dissertation committee, initiated by the chair, will need to sign the university D5 form (Doctoral Dissertation Acceptance and Processing) which the college will send to the registrar’s office.