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Library help, library subject guides.
The Library provides support for the development of your research skills while undertaking your dissertation or research project.
Are you working on your dissertation or research project? Sign up to the Library’s Research Skills for Dissertations Masterclass . This extended webinar combines a range of short sessions covering the following topics, delivered by staff from the Library and 301: Academic Skills Centre:
- Discovering & questioning information
- Referencing: tips and tricks
- Research Writing
Plus your choice of one of the following:
- Discovering & using images and figures
- Discovering & using digital archives
- Using infographics effectively
Please book using the links below:
Friday 16th June, 11am-1pm (online webinar)
Wednesday 21st June, 2-4pm (online webinar)
See also, 301: Academic Skills Centre's guidance on dissertation planning and academic writing.
- Research Skills and Critical Thinking Workshops
Here is a selection of research skills and critical thinking tutorials to support you in your dissertation:
Producing a literature review
A literature review aims to give an overview of the current scholarly understanding of a particular topic, including any competing theories or perspectives.
Discovering is the literacy which enables learners to develop search strategies and utilise a broad range of generic and discipline specific resource discovery tools. Information discovery might be guided, inquiry based, or serendipitous.
Referencing is the literacy which enables learners to acknowledge the work of others, building on their own analysis of existing knowledge. It also enables learners to attribute sources by creating citations and generating accurate bibliographies.
Developing an effective system for keeping track of your references is an essential element of research: Reference management.
Evaluating information and critical thinking
Learn how to think critically about your information sources, and evaluate information that you find to ensure that it is reliable, accurate, of good quality, and relevant to your assignment.
Understanding more about academic writing , and the conventions of your discipline, can help you develop confidence and make i mprovements to your written work. Our colleagues in 301 have produced this useful resource to support you.
Use images for a variety of purposes in your academic work: Discovering Images , Creating and Using Images , Understanding and Questioning Images , Attributing Images .
Introduction to infographics
Learn how to communicate with infographics : a visual medium perfect for communicating complex information and data simply.
Explore our research skills and critical thinking online tutorials, videos, guides and workshops.
[email protected] 0114 222 7200 01952 783022.
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- Last Reviewed: Sep 21, 2023 5:08 PM
- URL: https://sheffield.libguides.com/dissertations
Preparing your Thesis
Ideally, by the end of your third year you should already be preparing your PhD thesis for submission.
The University encourages PhD candidates to submit their work within three years, as most PhDs are only funded for this amount of time. However, the University does recognise that an additional (unfunded) year for thesis writing purposes may be required. PhD candidates are registered for 4 years in case of this eventuality.
If you continue into your fourth year of study, you must pay a continuation fee to the University. For 2022/23 this is £480, but will likely increase for future years.
If you enter your fourth year you should have prepared a clear plan towards completion of the thesis. This should be submitted to your supervisors for agreement.
Preparation of Thesis
The University has some specific guidance on the preparation of the thesis, which can be found here: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/rs/code/preparation , as well as details on Thesis Formats , and the formatting and binding of your thesis . These resources should all be consulted prior to submission of the thesis.
You may also find it useful to look at alumni theses, for help with formatting. These can all be accessed at White Rose eTheses Online .
If you're having trouble getting on with writing, the Think Ahead blog has some useful tips , and the Think Further team have articles on:
Reviewing Literature & Reference Management
Critique and Synthesis
Writing Style and Structure
Writing Problems and Practice
Review, Editing and Feedback
Publishing - where, what and how
Extension to Time Limit
If, towards the end of the year it becomes apparent that additional time is necessary you will need to make a formal application to extend your time limit. This will only be granted in truly exceptional circumstances . Do not count on this being approved. The form can be downloaded here . Forms should not be submitted earlier than three months before the time limit
Discussion regarding an extension should occur with the student, supervisor and PGR tutor not less than one month before the current time limit is to expire.
This form requires:
checking at which stage the thesis currently stands
reasons for non-completion
timetable of work to be carried out
statement of support from the supervisor
Recommendation of extensions is generally the responsibility of the PGR Tutor, in certain cases this may be deferred to the Head of Department. Final approval of extension applications is made at Faculty level, and will require the student to meet with the Head of the Engineering Graduate School to discuss the reasons for non-completion.
If you are studying on a Tier 4 visa, this may also have implications for your visa status, and ATAS clearance. You should contact International Student Services for further information in this case.
Welcome to White Rose eTheses Online
White rose etheses online.
Welcome to White Rose eTheses Online, a shared repository of electronic theses from the University of Leeds, the University of Sheffield and the University of York.
Student from the University of Leeds, Sheffield or York? Need to upload your thesis? Start by creating an account , or login to your account
If you are unsure if this is the right place for you, check the FAQs .
Recent additions for Leeds , Sheffield , York or all recent additions .
What is White Rose eTheses Online?
This repository gives access to theses awarded by the Universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York. The available repository content can be accessed for free, without the need to log on or create an account, as per the instructions of the depositing author. We also make the content available through aggregator sites via harvesting mechanisms.
- The University Library
- Open access
Sheffield Thesis Publishing Prize 2022 - Winners Announced
The five winners of the inaugural Sheffield Thesis Publishing Prize have now been announced. The prize, which was launched in Spring 2022 with a closing date in Autumn 2022, celebrates doctoral research at The University of Sheffield by supporting recent PhD graduates to explore opportunities to develop their thesis into an open access monograph published by White Rose University Press .
PhD-holders who graduated from the University of Sheffield since 2019 were invited to submit proposals detailing how their thesis could be turned into an open access monograph. From a strong field of applications, five prize-winners were selected, each winning a £250 cash prize and consideration for publication by White Rose University Press, with guidance and support provided through the peer review process. Where monographs are commissioned, all open access publication costs will be paid for by The University of Sheffield Library.
The five winners and their projects (in alphabetical order) are:
- Daniel Clarke (English) - Wearing Historicity: Genre, Stardom, and American Identity in Hollywood’s Medieval Films, 1949-1956
- Xi Lu (Landscape Architecture) - A Multi-Scale Study of Stakeholder Participation and Visualisation in Chinese Urban Planning: The Case of the Pearl River Delta
- Adele Mason-Bertrand (Sociological Studies) - Unmasking Cosplay: Subculture, Inclusivity, and Escape
- Jost Migenda (Physics) - Supernova Neutrino Observation and Model Discrimination with Water Cherenkov and Liquid Scintillator Detectors
- Alice Siberry (Law) - Diversity, Difference, or Disorder? Exploring Neurodiversity within British Policing
Alice Siberry, now a Criminal Justice Neurodiversity Consultant with the organisation Creased Puddle, said, ‘I am absolutely delighted to be given the opportunity to share my passion for making research more accessible and inclusive.’ Independent researcher Daniel Clarke commented, ‘I am very excited at the prospect of publishing my monograph with White Rose UP. A central tenet of my research philosophy is producing work that is both accessible and engaging to a diverse range of audiences, and I believe that publishing open access helps me to achieve this.’ Adele Mason-Bertrand, a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Leeds, added, ‘I am delighted to be selected as one of the winners. This prize will enable me to share my thesis in the format that best showcases my research and will enable a range of audiences to access my research regardless of their financial situation or educational background.’
Open access monographs are a growing area of publishing, with the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) currently indexing over 50,000 books. Publishing an open access monograph means that it can be shared, read, downloaded and reused by anyone with an internet connection, increasing the book’s readership and impact. White Rose University Press (WRUP) is a non-profit, open access digital publisher, run jointly by the Universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York. It publishes open access journals and books across all disciplines, with current publications in areas such as archaeology, literature and linguistics, and is committed to academic quality and innovation in digital publishing.
Prize-winner Jost Migenda, a postdoctoral researcher at King’s College London, said ‘My PhD research would not have been possible without open source software. So when I started thinking about writing a monograph, I knew right away that I wanted it to be open access. White Rose UP, with its full commitment to open access publishing, was the natural choice.’ Xi Lu, Lecturer at the College of Landscape Architecture, Nanjing Forestry University, commented that ‘As a non-native English speaker, publishing an open access monograph in English is an exciting yet challenging opportunity. I’m interested in having my research reach further and gaining a wider readership including practitioners, policy makers, academics and others interested in the field of urban planning and public participation.’
Kate Petherbridge, Press Manager at WRUP, said ‘We are really excited to see the range and quality of the prizewinning submissions, and are very much looking forward to working with all the authors on their proposals as they go through the peer review and commissioning process.’
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Sheffield Hallam Doctoral School
Planning for finishing the thesis
This workshop, held on 27 June, aimed to spark discussion and debate around planning for finishing the doctoral thesis, drawing on the experiences of doctoral programme leaders and providing opportunities for group discussions and sharing experiences and strategies. It also covered essential advice on open access and copyright in relation to the thesis.
The workshop included a panel session with Professor Paul Harrison (PVC Research and Innovation), Dr Kathy Doherty (Head of Research Degrees in ACES), and Professor Jon Wheat (Head of Research Degrees in HWB), who shared their critical success factors and strategies for completing the thesis:
With 12 months to go, you should have an idea of what chapters you’re going to have. As time goes on, this can be broken down into smaller, more detailed bite-sized chunks.
Write out of order
You don’t necessarily have to write your thesis in order (in fact, deliberately writing out of order is recommended). For example, scientists can write the methods chapter early on. Or write the ones you find easiest first – this will give you confidence for the rest.
By writing the introduction last you can ensure the thesis hangs together.
Write all the time
There is a popular misconception that you write your thesis at the end. This is not true – you must write throughout. There will be a period at the end when you’re drafting the final submission, and this will be almost impossible without having done some writing.
Write all the time – e.g. writing up your supervisory meeting notes helps you develop your argument. Keep a lab book or academic diary, where you note the justifications for the decisions you’ve made.
It’s daunting at first, but make a start and take it steady. Set yourself a target – e.g. 2 pages per day. This is very achievable – albeit easier on some days than others.
Don’t be scared to write things that don’t get used in the end. Writing text and then removing it is well worth doing. You can even keep a file of text that has been removed so it’s not lost.
Understand what’s required
You don’t want to exceed the word limit – examiners can refuse to examine it, and it’s good to get into the discipline of cutting and editing to remove redundancy.
Presentation is important – writing is not just the words. Understand the requirements for presentation – be clear what’s expected in terms of standard and quality. Don’t leave it to the last minute. Keep your references organised throughout.
Examiners will comment on the quality of the scholarly presentation. Pay close attention to checking things like the references in the text are properly listed in the references section, tables and graphs are correctly labelled, formatting is consistent, etc.
Perseverance is important – you will have low points. Accept that on some days, writing simply doesn’t happen. On those days, spend time instead on the graphs or making sure that the attention to detail is covered. This shows the examiner how much care has gone into the thesis.
Recognise when you employ diversionary tactics to avoid writing. If you’re likely to put it off, find some good strategies to overcome the block – e.g. write bullet points instead of sentences, or find a writing buddy. Activities such as Free Writing or Shut Up and Write! sessions may help. By writing at an early stage you know what kind of writer you are and what strategies work for you.
Discuss your ideas
Talking is also important – take every opportunity to talk about your work, from discussion with colleagues through to conferences. Use your peers for support. Discuss your emerging ideas, impact, what you want to make from the work you’ve done. This helps to define the emerging thesis. Even if you don’t feel you have anything to say, present it anyway as a work in progress.
Get used to presenting and defending your work – this helps you define and focus on what your thesis is. This is particularly relevant for the more discursive disciplines.
Get someone to read your thesis.
Use your peers for support.
Know when to stop
It has to be good enough, not perfect. You have to be prepared to let it go – your thesis can always improve with more time, but you have to recognise what’s ‘good enough’. Take advice from your supervisors on this.
Pete Smith of the Library Research Support Team then outlined some essential considerations regarding electronic theses, publishing and open access. Organisation is key – ask copyright questions early, review your data management plan, and sort out confidentiality in good time.
For more information or advice on these areas, contact the Library Research Support Team .
Copyright and your electronic thesis
Electronic PhD theses are available through the Sheffield Hallam University Research Archive ( SHURA ), making them widely available to researchers, funders, employers etc.
A hard copy thesis is not considered ‘published’, as it’s unlikely that a large number of people would read it. Electronic theses are more widely available, and are therefore considered to be published. This has implications for copyright.
Fair use of someone else’s work, with attribution, is acceptable – e.g. a couple of lines of text. Reproduction of whole chunks of text or images is classed as ‘unfair use’, and you’ll need to get permission from the copyright holder.
Most of the time, the electronic thesis will be the same as the hard copy. But if there are copyright issues, you may need to produce an edited version for the electronic thesis.
Sometimes publishers can’t turn a thesis into a book if it’s already available online. The University can put an embargo on an electronic thesis, to keep it hidden for a couple of years while you prepare the book.
The “ Your thesis ” section of the Library Research Support pages has more information, or contact the Team if you’re unsure.
Open access requirements
Open access aims to increase the (free) availability of research outputs, making them accessible to the public, other researchers, research funders and research users. It applies to all digital material, and there are particular requirements around the REF and research supported through public funding.
Publishing your thesis
Consider where you want to publish, reputation of publisher and journal, any charges, copyright ownership, and open access. Be wary of anyunsolicited approaches to publish your thesis at a charge.
The Think.Check.Submit website has advice on choosing where to publish your research.
If there are major ethical or commercial risks, a confidentiality embargo can be applied to the thesis. Talk to your supervisor about this.
Open access data
The underlying data for research projects are now shared on SHURDA (SHU Research Data Archive). This is relatively new, and aims to support (1) verification of work and process (2) reproducibility, and (3) reuse of data.
As part of your data management plan, you should consider what happens to your data once your PhD is completed. The default is that is goes online in SHURDA. Again, if there are ethical or commercial considerations, appropriate restrictions can be applied.
Library Research Support Team https://blogs.shu.ac.uk/libraryresearchsupport/ Useful information covering references, data management, publishing, electronic theses, open access and ORCID.
Planning & writing
Vitae resources on completing your doctorate https://www.vitae.ac.uk/doing-research/doing-a-doctorate/completing-your-doctorate (create an account/ log in with your SHU email address)
Shut Up and Write! https://blogs.shu.ac.uk/doctoralschool/writing/ Information on the approach and details of sessions at SHU
Free Writing – a paper-based (no typing) approach. Plan it out, then give yourself 5 minutes to write, with no stopping. It will not be the finished article, but will provide a scaffold of what you’re trying to say. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_writing
Online course on Research Data Management (available via Blackboard Academic CPD courses)
Research data store for active projects (Q drive) https://blogs.shu.ac.uk/libraryresearchsupport/manage/rdm/managingdata/research-store-q/
SHURDA – SHU Research Data Archive http://shurda.shu.ac.uk/
SHURA – SHU Research Archive of scholarly outputs and publications http://shura.shu.ac.uk/
EThOS – British Library e-thesis online service http://ethos.bl.uk/Home.do
A searchable database of theses from UK and Ireland is also available through ProQuest Dissertation, accessible via the SHU Library Gateway
Think.Check.Submit – choosing the right journal for your research http://thinkchecksubmit.org/
In the Epigeum Research Skills Course (available via Blackboard Academic CPD courses)
- Getting published in the arts
- Getting published in the sciences
- Selecting a conference, presenting and networking
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College of Education Hosts Teachers Clothes Closet
Lander University student, Thomas Histon, of Greenville, looks through a garment rack during the Teacher Clothes Closet on Wednesday, Oct. 5.
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