Doctoral Degree: Thesis

There are a number of steps, forms and resources to assist you through writing your thesis and to a successful defence. 

Library Study Rooms

Study rooms are available for master's and doctoral students.

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Before writing the first draft of your thesis, consult the SFU Library's guide to preparing and submitting your thesis. These Library resources will save you time in formatting and revisions:

Use of a Proofreader

While the student is ultimately responsible for writing quality and the thesis presentation, the use of a proofreader is acceptable for a thesis. The proofreader must be acknowledged in the thesis, either on the acknowledgement page or at the end of a project or extended essay.

A student’s use of a proofreader should be discussed with the supervisor and written approval to use a proofreader must be obtained from the supervisor. 

Proofreading is defined as the correction of errors in spelling, grammar and sentence construction, referencing, and punctuation, and may include identifying passages that lack clarity or are poorly written. The proofreader must ‘track changes’ and make liberal use of comment boxes in any electronic versions of the thesis.

The University expects that academic supervisors of theses will provide discipline-appropriate editorial comments including advice on the form, arrangement, thesis length, referencing, tables, figures, and headings. Supervisors should advise on whether the elements within the thesis are complete and consistent.

Additional reference: The Editor's Association of Canada guidelines for thesis editing.

Thesis Editing and Proofreading

See the library's resources on Thesis Editing and Proofreading.

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Postponement of Publication

All theses produced to meet Simon Fraser University’s degree requirements are subject to open publication, and are normally capable of standing as academically complete works. The open-access principle must be kept in mind when selecting a research topic. However, in some instances a portion of a student’s thesis might involve research whose publication in the library must be temporarily postponed because:

  • it would jeopardize the safety of the researcher and/or research participants
  • it contains patentable material or other intellectual property that requires protection, or
  • the student has entered into a publication agreement with a publisher whose guidelines state that prior publication in a university repository will be a barrier to publication.

Students are expected to seek guidance from their supervisory committee whenever there is a possibility that certain findings might be subject to embargo for any of these reasons (see GGR 1.11.3). In coordination with their committee, students should communicate any anticipated or known restrictions on the publication of their research to Graduate Studies as soon as possible.

The formal request for postponement of publication must be submitted to Graduate Studies a minimum of 30 days in advance of the defence.

Thesis Corrections

Prior to your examination

For the thesis distribution to the examining committee, changes made will not be redistributed to the examining committee. However, if a significant content-related error has been made an email from the supervisor outlining the error should be sent to with a copy of the revised thesis. Graduate Studies will make a decision if it warrants redistribution.

After submission to the library

Changes cannot be made to the thesis after the supervisor has "signed-off" on the thesis/revision or after the thesis has been submitted to the Library.

However, if significant content-related errors that must be changed are found, permission for the student's supervisor and approval from Graduate Studies arenecessary. If the change is deemed significant, Graduate Studies will authorise the Thesis Office to accept the change.

Thesis Title

The Office of Research Ethics in consultation with Graduatel Studies and The Library Thesis Office has determined that the Title of the Thesis submitted to the Library does not have to match the title of the Letter of Ethics Approval.

Therefore, the Office of Research Ethics will no longer be processing amendments for Title Change Requests if the request is for the purpose of matching the Thesis Title to the Title of Letter of Ethics Approval. 

Submission to the Library

Be sure to note the deadline for submission of theses to the SFU Library. If the deadline is not met, registration in the subsequent term is normally required.

When your thesis is ready for submission, go to Online Registration of Thesis Submission and follow instructions on the page.

Thesis Printing and Binding

See information about Thesis Printing and Binding through SFU's Document Solutions. Thesis binding is at the discretion of the student.

NOTE: You may apply to graduate before you defend and before your thesis is accepted by the library.