Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Information for Dissertation Students
Selection of a Supervisor
Each PhD student selected his/her supervisor prior to admission. Should the topic of your research change, or other issues arise, the supervisor (and committee members) may also change. It is the responsibility of the student, in collaboration with the Assistant Dean, 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 Assistant Dean in writing, as part of the student file.
Responsibilities of Supervisors
Every supervisor 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 current University calendars; they should be aware of the specific deadline dates and should know and use the various official forms which record the student's progress, requirements, or changes in program, etc. Students and supervisors are jointly responsible for ensuring that the College of Graduate Studies and Research and College of Nursing regulations are observed, and that all requirements are met.
Supervisors and their students have a shared responsibility to ensure that there are adequate opportunities to meet on a regular basis.
Supervisors' responsibilities include guidance, instruction, and encouragement of progress and productivity to ensure that 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 through critical encouragement and support without being dictatorial, and without insisting that the student's proposal or dissertation match precisely with the supervisor's predilections. While refraining from imposing upon the subject matter of a student's research, the supervisor should, nevertheless, oblige the student to maintain a high academic standard, ethical approaches, and optimal use of research and scholarly techniques. It is essential, then, that 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.
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 other 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 Studies and Research 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 that a proposed member is not known to the College of Graduate Studies and Research, an application and CV for that member must be approved by the College of Graduate Studies and Research. 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.
The advisory committee for dissertation students is comprised of members of the dissertation committee and the Graduate Chair. In the event that 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 Graduate Studies and Research form available from the Graduate Support person and must be signed by the supervisor, the student and the Graduate Chair. Supervisors and students work with the Graduate Support person 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 that uses 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 online at http://www.usask.ca/research/ethics.shtml . 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 other ethics approvals, as well as any amendments or renewals of ethics approvals must be filed with the Graduate Program support person.
Dissertation DefenseThe 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 the milestones section below for the procedures associated with the dissertation defense.