College of Nursing

Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing

Information for Dissertation Students

Selection of a Supervisor

Each PhD student selects his/her supervisor prior to admission. Should the topic of your research change, or issues arise, the supervisor (and committee members) may also change. It is the responsibility of the student, in collaboration with the Graduate Chair, to discuss any proposed changes with the supervisor and committee members involved.

Changes to the supervisor and/or committee members must be sent to the Graduate Chair in writing, as part of the student file.

Responsibilities of Supervisors

All supervisors should be familiar with the chronological sequence of events and deadlines that occur at crucial stages throughout the student's program. Supervisors and students should be fully informed about the academic schedule in the current University calendar. They should be aware of specific deadline dates and use the various official forms, which record the student's progress, requirements, changes in program, etc. Students and supervisors are jointly responsible for ensuring the College of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies and College of Nursing regulations are observed and all requirements are met.

Supervisors and their students have a shared responsibility to ensure there are adequate opportunities to meet on a regular basis.

Supervisors' responsibilities include guidance, instruction and encouragement of progress and productivity to ensure a dissertation is well composed; completed in a timely manner and adheres to the prescribed format. The challenge is to remain balanced in assisting the student to develop as a scholar and researcher without being dictatorial and without insisting the student's proposal or dissertation match precisely with preferences of the supervisor. While refraining from imposing upon the subject matter of a student's research, the supervisor should, nevertheless, help the student to maintain a high academic standard, ethical approaches and optimal use of research and scholarly techniques. It is essential the supervisor's responsibility is recognized as two-fold: first, to facilitate students in their learning process; and second, to evaluate them in their performance.

Supervisors have a responsibility to inform students about their academic progress on a regular basis.

Dissertation Committee

The Dissertation Committee is chaired by the supervisor. The committee is assembled by the student and supervisor in consultation, and with mutual agreement of the proposed committee member(s). A Dissertation Supervisory Committee normally consists of the supervisor and three members, one of whom must be a member of the College of Nursing. If a Master's prepared faculty or community member is appointed to the committee, this must be in addition to the numbers above. If there are co-supervisors, they both count as one member.

The procedure for selection of Dissertation Committee members is as follows: After discussion with the supervisor, the student informally approaches faculty to see if they will agree to serve. Names are then submitted to the Graduate Chair, normally before May of the first year.  The supervisory committee names are part of the student's official program of studies and must be recommended to the College of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies by the Graduate Chair

At least one of the dissertation committee members should be from the College of Nursing; however, one committee member may be within the broader University community or community partners.  In the event a proposed member is not known to the College of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, an application and CV for that member must be approved by the College of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. Supervisors will be required to provide rationale for the inclusion of members from outside the academic community. Please see the Graduate Chair for assistance with this process.

Dissertation Committee members are expected to provide support, advice and evaluation of the student's work. Students are expected to initiate contacts with committee members as they judge necessary.

Advisory Committee

The Advisory Committee for dissertation students is comprised of members of the Dissertation Committee and the Graduate Chair. In the event a regularly scheduled meeting (i.e., Proposal Defense, Dissertation Defense) is not held in a given year, the Advisory Committee must meet on a yearly basis to assess the student's progress. This progress is noted on a College of Nursing progress report.  Supervisors and students work with the Graduate Programs Assistant to plan the logistics of these meetings.

Dissertation Proposal Approval (Defense)

Upon recommendation of the supervisor, and in consultation with the Graduate Chair, a meeting of the Dissertation Committee will be called. The committee will decide whether the written proposal meets the standards of the College of Nursing and if the student appears competent to carry out the research. When these two criteria are judged to be satisfactorily met, committee members will sign the dissertation approval form.

Ethical Approval for Dissertation Research

All research on campus using human subjects must be submitted for ethical approval by the University. After the proposal has been approved by the Dissertation Committee, ethical approval must be sought from either the University Advisory Committee on Ethics in Human Experimentation (Health Sciences), or the University Advisory Committee on Ethics in Behavioural Science Research. Procedures and forms are available here.  Following this University Ethical Approval, there may be further approvals required by an individual agency or health region.

The Graduate Chair or designate is required to sign each ethics approval form. Data collection cannot begin until all required ethical approvals are received. If there are revisions required by the committee, these must be completed and a letter indicating no further revisions required obtained before data collection begins. A copy of the University of Saskatchewan and any additional ethics approvals, as well as any amendments or renewals of ethics approvals, must be filed with the Graduate Programs Assistant.

Dissertation Defense

The Dissertation Examining Committee consists of the Advisory Committee, plus an external examiner. The defense consists of an open presentation by the student, plus questions from the examining committee. Please see Milestones of Dissertation Students for the procedures associated with the dissertation defense.