Thesis and Dissertation Support

The Grad Center is here to help you get started, make steady progress, and complete your thesis or dissertation on time. 

Workshops and Events

We offer workshops and information sessions throughout the year designed to support productive research, writing, and degree completion.  

Popular workshops include: 

  • Publishing Workshop Series 
    Curious about publishing but not sure where to start? Join the library staff and the Graduate Student Center for workshops on different aspects of the publishing process!
     
  • Reference Management Tools 
    Reference management software can save researchers considerable time and energy in compiling and formatting references for publications. One-hour workshop demonstrating the most widely-used citation management tools. 

See all upcoming events

Writing Programs

Whether you need intensive writing time or are looking for ongoing writing motivation and feedback, we work with campus partners to provide range of academic writing support. 

Dissertation Boot Camp 
Looking for an environment where you can focus solely on writing your dissertation? The Graduate Student Center's popular Dissertation Boot Camp is your two-week writers' retreat.

Dissertation Boot Camp was created at Penn in 2005 to help students progress through the difficult writing stages of the dissertation process. By offering an environment and support for intense, focused writing time, the Camp provides participants with the structure and motivation to overcome typical roadblocks in the dissertation process. Boot Camp is a two-week long, bi-annual event. 

Drop-in Writing Consultations 
Weekly drop-in writing consultations with experts from the Weingarten Learning Resources Center, held throughout the academic year. Weingarten staff can discuss work at every stage, and help you move past difficult roadblocks in the process.

Thesis and Dissertation Resources

computer

Research

The Penn Libraries offer a great many workshops to help in the research and dissertation process. 

Office of Regulatory Affairs: Helps to assure that all research conducted at Penn honors Penn's standards for the treatment of people and animals.

Office of the Vice Provost for Research: Provides information on funding opportunities and links to graduate student resources.

Penn Electronic Research Administration (PennERA): PennERA is a full life-cycle system for research project development, support, and management.

Weigle Information Commons: Supports study groups and collaborative learning and offers training, equipment and support for digital media. Several support services are provided for students as they work to improve their effectiveness in writing, speaking and original inquiry. 

Research Tools and Websites  

Penn Libraries guide to Statistical Software 

Bibliomania: Provides free online literature with more than 2000 classic texts.

Elements of Style Online book: the classic reference book for all writers.

Library of Congress Online research center: provides free educational materials including access to the Library of Congress archives.

 

Bibliographic & Reference Management Software

BiblioScape: Free Download

Endnote works well for the health sciences and for large collections of articles, despite some technical and installation issues. Available for a discount at Penn Computer Connection

Mendeley is a cloud-based proprietary system that includes Facebook-style social networking, PDF annotation, a platform for self-promotion and crowd-sourcing of citations and annotations. Mendeley has a wide range of functionality but suffers from performance and accuracy issues.

RefWorks is a stable, well-established platform, but has limitations in terms of working with PDF files.  Provided by and integrated with the Penn Library

Scholar's Aid: Free Download

Zotero is an open-source software program that is notable for its ease of use, its ability to grab screenshots, and its capabilities for archiving website content for local storage. Read this Insider Higher Ed review.

For more details and a handy comparison chart, check out the Penn Libraries' Citation Management Tools Guide

Print Resources  

Wayne C. Booth, Joseph M. Williams, Gregory G. Colomb, The Craft of Research, Third Edition (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing), (Chicago: U of Chicago Press, 2008)

Carol M. Roberts, The Dissertation Journey: A Practical and Comprehensive Guide to Planning, Writing, and Defending Your Dissertation (Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, 2004) - Google Books

Kiel Erik Rudestam, Rae R. Newton, Surviving Your Dissertation: A Comprehensive Guide to Content and Process (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2007) - Google Books

directions

Dissertation Process

Writing and Revising 

Elements of Style Online book: the classic reference book for all writers.

Penn Writing Center: Offers writing help to Penn graduate students.

Defending your Thesis/Dissertation 

Preparing for the Oral Defense of the Dissertation by Marianne Di Pierro (PDF)

CWiC: Provides courses and workshops for students to improve speaking abilities.

Productivity

PhinisheD: "A discussion and support group for people who cannot seem to finish their dissertations or theses." Provides links to books, data and reference, entertainment, graduate and postgraduate resources, academic resources, organizations and businesses, research and writing guides and student life.

Print Resources 

Joan Bolker, Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day: A Guide to Starting, Revising, and Finishing Your Doctoral Thesis (New York: Holt, 1998) - Google Books

Sonja Foss and William Waters, Destination Dissertation: A Traveler's Guide to a Done Dissertation (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2007) - Google Books

Carol M. Roberts, The Dissertation Journey: A Practical and Comprehensive Guide to Planning, Writing, and Defending Your Dissertation (Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, 2004) - Google Books

Kiel Erik Rudestam, Rae R. Newton, Surviving Your Dissertation: A Comprehensive Guide to Content and Process (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2007) - Google Books

Jane Burka with Lenora M. Yuen, Procrastination: Why You Do It, What to Do About It Now (Cambridge, Mass: Da Capo Lifelong Books, 2008)

bookmark_border

Guidelines and Policies

Most academic polices and procedures at Penn are school-based. Students should consult with their school or graduate group with questions or for help in understanding academic policies and procedures.

See our complete list of academic policies in our resource guide or search for university policies by topic in the Graduate Catalog.

Academic Rules for Research Programs

Academic Integrity
All members of the Penn Community are responsible for upholding the highest standards of honesty and complying Code of Academic Integrity at all times. 

Research Policies and Guidelines

Dissertation Manual
The University's requirements for preparing, formatting, and submitting the dissertation are documented in the Dissertation Manual. The manual also includes helpful resources, a graduation calendar and checklist, and links to external resources. 

school

Submission and Graduation

Preparing and filing your thesis/dissertation are the key final steps leading to the awarding of your degree. 

Preparation and Formatting 

University Style Guide for Master's Theses

EdD dissertation manual (PDF): For those students completing the professional doctorate in education.

Dissertation Manual
The University's requirements for preparing, formatting, and submitting the dissertation are documented in the Dissertation Manual. The manual also includes helpful resources, a graduation calendar and checklist, and links to external resources. 

Graduation Requirements

The Graduate Division of the School of Arts and Sciences oversees the review of all non-professional doctoral dissertations and Master's theses for the University. Consequently, degree candidates for all academic graduate degrees in all nine of the university's graduate schools must apply to this office when planning to graduate in any given term. 

Graduation Calendar
For PhD, AM, MS, and professional degrees in SAS and SEAS

Please note: the deadline to complete all degree requirements and sign up for graduation is several weeks in advance of the graduation date. 

Dissertation Submission
At the University of Pennsylvania, each doctoral student presents the dissertation publicly, defends it, and, with the approval of the dissertation committee, submits the final manuscript for publication.

The University’s publication requirement is satisfied when the dissertation has been submitted online through ProQuest's ETD Administrator and in hard copy to the University Library for shelving in the permanent collection. Open Access publication in the institutional repository, Scholarly Commons, is also available at no additional cost.

Students can choose to deposit their dissertation as an open access document through the Penn Library Scholarly Commons Repository. Read about rules regarding open access publication of PhD dissertations. 

local_library

Additional Resources

Penn Resources and Support

Office of Student Disabilities Services: Provides comprehensive, professional services and programs for students with disabilities.

Weingarten Learning Resources Center: Offers instruction in academic reading, writing, and study strategies.

CAPS: Offers career counseling and dissertation support groups.

Funding your research: Visit our Graduate Funding page 

Graduate Group Review Student Feedback Form
Graduate Groups are periodically reviewed by the Graduate Council of the Faculties (GCF) in order to identify strengths and weaknesses within each program, and to recommend any changes that may help to improve the Graduate Group. This feedback form is intended to solicit general information and impressions about your graduate school experiences to share with GCF. If there is a specific incident you would like to report, please use the University’s Bias Incident Reporting Form.

 

Global Resources

Penn Global 
Before going abroad for academic work, be sure to check out Penn Global's International Travel Guidance page, which provides help during an emergency abroad, research concerns when abroad, travel arrangements, visa information and more. Be sure to register your trip to stay connected to Penn resources in the event of an emergency and pre-authorize any necessary medical insurance coverage. 

Perry World House 
Perry World House at the University of Pennsylvania (PWH) is a global policy research center that aims to advance interdisciplinary, policy-relevant research on the world’s most urgent global affairs challenges. At a time of increasing ideological division and highly politicized of policymaking, PWH draws on the wide range of expertise found across Penn’s 12 Schools, connecting Penn with policymakers, practitioners, and researchers from around the world to develop and advance innovative policy proposals. 

Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement 
The Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement at the University of Pennsylvania is founded on the principle that a democratic, open, secure, tolerant, and interconnected world benefits all Americans. Based in Washington, D.C., the Penn Biden Center engages more of our fellow citizens in shaping this world, while ensuring the gains of global engagement are widely shared.  

Penn Abroad
Penn Abroad serves as the hub for student global opportunities at the University of Pennsylvania. Each year Penn Abroad sends more than 1,000 Penn students to over 50 countries around the world on semester study abroad, summer internships, and embedded Global Seminars. Explore our website to find information about the many global opportunities available to Penn students. 

International Student and Scholar Services
International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) aims to provide immigration assistance as well as a sense of community for the international population at Penn.  In addition to answering your technical questions about immigration, ISSS also offers student programs and leadership opportunities for students, such as Forerunner and the Intercultural Leadership Program (ILP), to foster meaningful engagement throughout their journey with Penn. 

 

menu_book

Resources in Print

Robert L. Peters, Getting What You Came for: The Smart Student's Guide to Earning a Master's or a Ph.D. (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1997)

Emily Toth, Ms Mentor's New and Ever More Impeccable Advice for Women and Men in Academia (Philadelphia, U Penn Press, 2008)

Jane Burka with Lenora M. Yuen, Procrastination: Why You Do It, What to Do About It Now (Cambridge, Mass: Da Capo Lifelong Books, 2008)

computer

Research

The Penn Libraries offer a great many workshops to help in the research and dissertation process. 

Office of Regulatory Affairs: Helps to assure that all research conducted at Penn honors Penn's standards for the treatment of people and animals.

Office of the Vice Provost for Research: Provides information on funding opportunities and links to graduate student resources.

Penn Electronic Research Administration (PennERA): PennERA is a full life-cycle system for research project development, support, and management.

Weigle Information Commons: Supports study groups and collaborative learning and offers training, equipment and support for digital media. Several support services are provided for students as they work to improve their effectiveness in writing, speaking and original inquiry. 

Research Tools and Websites  

Penn Libraries guide to Statistical Software 

Bibliomania: Provides free online literature with more than 2000 classic texts.

Elements of Style Online book: the classic reference book for all writers.

Library of Congress Online research center: provides free educational materials including access to the Library of Congress archives.

 

Bibliographic & Reference Management Software

BiblioScape: Free Download

Endnote works well for the health sciences and for large collections of articles, despite some technical and installation issues. Available for a discount at Penn Computer Connection

Mendeley is a cloud-based proprietary system that includes Facebook-style social networking, PDF annotation, a platform for self-promotion and crowd-sourcing of citations and annotations. Mendeley has a wide range of functionality but suffers from performance and accuracy issues.

RefWorks is a stable, well-established platform, but has limitations in terms of working with PDF files.  Provided by and integrated with the Penn Library

Scholar's Aid: Free Download

Zotero is an open-source software program that is notable for its ease of use, its ability to grab screenshots, and its capabilities for archiving website content for local storage. Read this Insider Higher Ed review.

For more details and a handy comparison chart, check out the Penn Libraries' Citation Management Tools Guide

Print Resources  

Wayne C. Booth, Joseph M. Williams, Gregory G. Colomb, The Craft of Research, Third Edition (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing), (Chicago: U of Chicago Press, 2008)

Carol M. Roberts, The Dissertation Journey: A Practical and Comprehensive Guide to Planning, Writing, and Defending Your Dissertation (Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, 2004) - Google Books

Kiel Erik Rudestam, Rae R. Newton, Surviving Your Dissertation: A Comprehensive Guide to Content and Process (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2007) - Google Books

directions

Dissertation Process

Writing and Revising 

Elements of Style Online book: the classic reference book for all writers.

Penn Writing Center: Offers writing help to Penn graduate students.

Defending your Thesis/Dissertation 

Preparing for the Oral Defense of the Dissertation by Marianne Di Pierro (PDF)

CWiC: Provides courses and workshops for students to improve speaking abilities.

Productivity

PhinisheD: "A discussion and support group for people who cannot seem to finish their dissertations or theses." Provides links to books, data and reference, entertainment, graduate and postgraduate resources, academic resources, organizations and businesses, research and writing guides and student life.

Print Resources 

Joan Bolker, Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day: A Guide to Starting, Revising, and Finishing Your Doctoral Thesis (New York: Holt, 1998) - Google Books

Sonja Foss and William Waters, Destination Dissertation: A Traveler's Guide to a Done Dissertation (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2007) - Google Books

Carol M. Roberts, The Dissertation Journey: A Practical and Comprehensive Guide to Planning, Writing, and Defending Your Dissertation (Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, 2004) - Google Books

Kiel Erik Rudestam, Rae R. Newton, Surviving Your Dissertation: A Comprehensive Guide to Content and Process (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2007) - Google Books

Jane Burka with Lenora M. Yuen, Procrastination: Why You Do It, What to Do About It Now (Cambridge, Mass: Da Capo Lifelong Books, 2008)

bookmark_border

Guidelines and Policies

Most academic polices and procedures at Penn are school-based. Students should consult with their school or graduate group with questions or for help in understanding academic policies and procedures.

See our complete list of academic policies in our resource guide or search for university policies by topic in the Graduate Catalog.

Academic Rules for Research Programs

Academic Integrity
All members of the Penn Community are responsible for upholding the highest standards of honesty and complying Code of Academic Integrity at all times. 

Research Policies and Guidelines

Dissertation Manual
The University's requirements for preparing, formatting, and submitting the dissertation are documented in the Dissertation Manual. The manual also includes helpful resources, a graduation calendar and checklist, and links to external resources. 

school

Submission and Graduation

Preparing and filing your thesis/dissertation are the key final steps leading to the awarding of your degree. 

Preparation and Formatting 

University Style Guide for Master's Theses

EdD dissertation manual (PDF): For those students completing the professional doctorate in education.

Dissertation Manual
The University's requirements for preparing, formatting, and submitting the dissertation are documented in the Dissertation Manual. The manual also includes helpful resources, a graduation calendar and checklist, and links to external resources. 

Graduation Requirements

The Graduate Division of the School of Arts and Sciences oversees the review of all non-professional doctoral dissertations and Master's theses for the University. Consequently, degree candidates for all academic graduate degrees in all nine of the university's graduate schools must apply to this office when planning to graduate in any given term. 

Graduation Calendar
For PhD, AM, MS, and professional degrees in SAS and SEAS

Please note: the deadline to complete all degree requirements and sign up for graduation is several weeks in advance of the graduation date. 

Dissertation Submission
At the University of Pennsylvania, each doctoral student presents the dissertation publicly, defends it, and, with the approval of the dissertation committee, submits the final manuscript for publication.

The University’s publication requirement is satisfied when the dissertation has been submitted online through ProQuest's ETD Administrator and in hard copy to the University Library for shelving in the permanent collection. Open Access publication in the institutional repository, Scholarly Commons, is also available at no additional cost.

Students can choose to deposit their dissertation as an open access document through the Penn Library Scholarly Commons Repository. Read about rules regarding open access publication of PhD dissertations. 

local_library

Additional Resources

Penn Resources and Support

Office of Student Disabilities Services: Provides comprehensive, professional services and programs for students with disabilities.

Weingarten Learning Resources Center: Offers instruction in academic reading, writing, and study strategies.

CAPS: Offers career counseling and dissertation support groups.

Funding your research: Visit our Graduate Funding page 

Graduate Group Review Student Feedback Form
Graduate Groups are periodically reviewed by the Graduate Council of the Faculties (GCF) in order to identify strengths and weaknesses within each program, and to recommend any changes that may help to improve the Graduate Group. This feedback form is intended to solicit general information and impressions about your graduate school experiences to share with GCF. If there is a specific incident you would like to report, please use the University’s Bias Incident Reporting Form.

 

Global Resources

Penn Global 
Before going abroad for academic work, be sure to check out Penn Global's International Travel Guidance page, which provides help during an emergency abroad, research concerns when abroad, travel arrangements, visa information and more. Be sure to register your trip to stay connected to Penn resources in the event of an emergency and pre-authorize any necessary medical insurance coverage. 

Perry World House 
Perry World House at the University of Pennsylvania (PWH) is a global policy research center that aims to advance interdisciplinary, policy-relevant research on the world’s most urgent global affairs challenges. At a time of increasing ideological division and highly politicized of policymaking, PWH draws on the wide range of expertise found across Penn’s 12 Schools, connecting Penn with policymakers, practitioners, and researchers from around the world to develop and advance innovative policy proposals. 

Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement 
The Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement at the University of Pennsylvania is founded on the principle that a democratic, open, secure, tolerant, and interconnected world benefits all Americans. Based in Washington, D.C., the Penn Biden Center engages more of our fellow citizens in shaping this world, while ensuring the gains of global engagement are widely shared.  

Penn Abroad
Penn Abroad serves as the hub for student global opportunities at the University of Pennsylvania. Each year Penn Abroad sends more than 1,000 Penn students to over 50 countries around the world on semester study abroad, summer internships, and embedded Global Seminars. Explore our website to find information about the many global opportunities available to Penn students. 

International Student and Scholar Services
International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) aims to provide immigration assistance as well as a sense of community for the international population at Penn.  In addition to answering your technical questions about immigration, ISSS also offers student programs and leadership opportunities for students, such as Forerunner and the Intercultural Leadership Program (ILP), to foster meaningful engagement throughout their journey with Penn. 

 

menu_book

Resources in Print

Robert L. Peters, Getting What You Came for: The Smart Student's Guide to Earning a Master's or a Ph.D. (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1997)

Emily Toth, Ms Mentor's New and Ever More Impeccable Advice for Women and Men in Academia (Philadelphia, U Penn Press, 2008)

Jane Burka with Lenora M. Yuen, Procrastination: Why You Do It, What to Do About It Now (Cambridge, Mass: Da Capo Lifelong Books, 2008)

Have suggestions for more helpful resources? Let us know!