ARST 599 (12 credits)


Guidelines for Theses for MAS, MLIS and Dual Degree Candidates

This document is intended to provide information to UBC iSchool students wishing to undertake theses as part of MAS, MLIS or Dual degree programs and for faculty members who are supervising theses.

In addition to this document, students should consult UBC’s Faculty of Graduate Studies (FoGS) website for more information about thesis preparation, including ethical issues, formatting, and submission requirements.   Faculty may wish to consult the Handbook of Graduate Supervision and FoGS Information for Supervisors.  Here you will find guidelines on forming the supervisory committee, responsibilities of faculty and graduate students, and student-faculty relationships.

iSchool MAS, MLIS and Dual Theses

Thesis Credit Value
Students registered in the MAS, MLIS, or Dual programs may decide to complete a 12–credit thesis.  The theses numbers are LIBR 599: Thesis (12) and ARST 599: Thesis (12).  The normal term for initial registration in ARST 599/ LIBR 599 is the third term in the program.

Students must have completed 24 credits of course work in their program before registering for a thesis. In addition to the MAS and MLIS core courses, students must also have taken ARST 591, Archival Research and Scholarship/LIBR 505, Research Methods in Information Organizations.  A grade point average of at least 76% (B+) on iSchool coursework is required.

Thesis Topic and Supervisor
Students intending to write a thesis should consult their assigned advisor and/or a faculty member whose interests appear relevant to the area(s) of interest. These discussions should identify a topic and faculty member to supervise the thesis; this individual may or may not be the person of first preference. The thesis may be in print, multimedia or digital format.

Supervisors must be in the professorial ranks. A co-supervisor external to UBC iSchool at the professorial ranks may be identified as a possible co-supervisor with an iSchool faculty member.  (See Appendix A for External Co-Supervisor Form).

Thesis Committee
Once a faculty member agrees to supervise the student’s research, the two should discuss other potential members of the research supervisory committee. Within the first month of the term that the student first registers for the thesis, the Thesis Committee will be constituted in consultation with the student’s advisor and Thesis Supervisor. The Thesis Committee will consist of the thesis supervisor, and one additional member of the iSchool faculty or a UBC faculty member from a department outside of the iSchool. This Committee is responsible for approving the formal thesis proposal; it should meet at least once, and preferably twice, during a year to monitor students’ progress.

A UBC iSchool student planning to undertake the MAS, MLIS, or Dual thesis may request permission to have a non-iSchool, external thesis co-supervisor. The principal supervisor should be an iSchool faculty member, but a non-iSchool, external thesis co-supervisor. The remaining committee members will be iSchool faculty.

The iSchool Graduate Advisor will approve the request in consultation with other members of faculty as deemed advisable.

The non-iSchool external thesis co-supervisor should be a UBC faculty member at the professorial rank. If the approved prospective non-iSchool external thesis co-supervisor is not at the professorial rank, the Graduate Advisor will approve the position in consultation with the Faculty of Graduate Studies.  Please attach a letter indicating why the proposed non-iSchool external UBC faculty member is appropriate as co-supervisor of your thesis. Include a copy of the individual’s Curriculum Vitae.
More information about the role and responsibilities of the Thesis Supervisor can be located on the FoGs website.

Thesis Proposal
The thesis proposal should be discussed with the research supervisor early in the process and may take different formats. Members of the Thesis Committee must approve the research proposal. When the thesis proposal is ready, in the opinion of the thesis supervisor, it will be distributed to members of the Thesis Committee and a date will be established for the thesis proposal meeting. At the proposal meeting, the Thesis Committee will give feedback to the student and may request alterations and changes.  All members of the Thesis Committee will sign the Thesis Proposal Form (See Appendix B). The supervisor will place a copy of the approved proposal in the student’s file.

All research involving human participants is approved and governed by one of the Research Ethics Boards at UBC. Students should be familiar with the Tri-Council Policy Statement on Ethical Conduct for Conducting Research Involving Humans . The Thesis Supervisor and student will determine whether the research requires ethical review.  If ethical review is required, the Thesis Supervisor and student will select the UBC Ethics Board most appropriate for the student’s research, discuss the proposed methodology and its ethical implications, and develop an ethics protocol. Approval from the UBC Ethics Board must be received before research is begun.

Evaluation of the Thesis
The student will submit drafts regularly to the supervisor, who will guide the investigation and writing and decide when the document is of sufficient scope, depth, and quality to be eligible for examination. When the work is deemed ready by the supervisor, the student will submit one copy of the thesis to each member of the examining committee.  A final presentation may be organized for the student to discuss the thesis with faculty and students. This is not a thesis defence or exam but an opportunity to share the content and process of the research. As it is not a formal exam, it will not contribute towards the final grade.

Criteria for assessment
Master’s theses are assessed using criteria that are applied to the kind of research that is carried out. To approve a thesis, the committee must be convinced that the student has adequately demonstrated the ability to design and carry out a respectable research study and has described the process and outcomes of that study in a clear, complete and cogent fashion.

The Thesis committee will meet and determine the grade for the thesis. Even if the thesis is assigned a passing grade, the Thesis Committee may require corrections and changes to the thesis as presented to its members. The supervisor is responsible for ensuring that these are made in the finished copy to be submitted as follows.

Submission of Finished Copies
In order to be eligible for convocation, all thesis-based Master’s students must submit one approved copy of their defended thesis to the Faculty of Graduate Studies. Full information on electronic submission requirements is available on the FoGs website. Theses are to be submitted electronically as a single PDF file to UBC’s online information repository, cIRcle.

The Thesis

Content and Focus
MAS, MLIS and Dual theses are formal reports of research. The content and organization of theses vary widely depending on the topics addressed and research approaches employed. A thesis demonstrates the student’s ability to design, carry out, and report on a formal research project in which the student applies accepted methods of scholarship to a question or issue of concern.

“Accepted methods of scholarship” is interpreted quite broadly to include any and all empirical, analytical, interpretive, and critical approaches regarded as legitimate forms of scholarship in the area of study. Reviewing recently completed these by students in one’s area of specialization is a useful exercise for students to gauge appropriate research topics, methods, reporting formats, and the degree of effort required to complete a thesis.

Structure, Style and Format
The Faculty of Graduate Studies outlines the thesis structure.  There are strict format requirements that must be met before the theses will be accepted FoGS. Students should consult the Faculty of Graduate Studies website when preparing their manuscripts.  This covers UBC guidelines and regulations regarding types of theses, theses specifications, formatting requirements, document requirements, final thesis submission, and resources for thesis checking.

Supervision and Proposals
Students who elect to write a thesis usually begin work on the thesis proposal when they have completed most required courses (at least the core courses and LIBR 505/ARST 591.

The Time Limits and Deadlines

Tentative Schedule for Graduation

For May Graduation

September First draft of proposal to Thesis Supervisor for feedback and revision
October Proposal completed and submitted for response to Thesis Committee
November Proposal approved
December to March Chapter drafts and revisions to Thesis Supervisor
March Completed manuscript and abstract to Thesis Committee
April Faculty of Graduate Studies (FoGS) sets a deadline each April for submissions of revised thesis to FoGS for May graduation

For November Graduation

January First draft of proposal to Thesis Supervisor for feedback and revision
February Proposal completed and submitted for response to Thesis Committee
March Proposal approved
April to July Chapter drafts and revisions to supervisor
August Completed manuscript and abstract to Thesis Committee
October FoGs sets a deadline each April for submissions of revised thesis to FoGS for November graduation


Appendix A: Request for Permission for iSchool External Thesis Co-Supervisor form

Appendix B: Thesis Proposal Form

Appendix C: Report of completion and thesis grade form