Sunday, April 29, 2007

Check details for filing

As filing dates for spring dissertations and these near, it's important to check on the details required for filing.

Check the details with your school; usually schools have an administrator or group of administrators who will check documents for conformity with school guidelines.
There is almost always a school-specific guide or handbook for formatting your dissertation or thesis.

If you hire someone to edit and format your document, make sure to check their work against school guidelines. No editor can provide a guarantee that will make up for missing a filing date.
Don't make a simple mistake that costs you months and hundreds or thousands of dollars in registration fees.

I was looking at websites of others who advertise as dissertation coaches or dissertation editors, and I saw one person who wisely recommended that one should check references, and if possible speak with a former client. After all, the advice is expensive, and someone could lead you astray.

I then found it ironic that on another part of her website I found three distinct points that I had to disagree with as being just plain wrong.
She made two suggestions about the basics of APA style which are clearly refuted in the APA Manual (Fifth edition) and another suggestion--about margin size--which was clearly contradicted by APA style guidelines, but, more importantly, probably did not fit in with the guidelines of any university at which a dissertation might be filed.

Margin size, as stated by the APA should be 1" on all sides of the page.
But, in the case of theses and dissertations, universities, and, perhaps most importantly, ProQuest/UMI Dissertation publishing, all require a 1.5" left margin (the other margins are 1").
Check the UMI guidelines (The Preparing Your Manuscript link)

The real moral of the story is that, whether you hire someone to help you finalize your dissertation or not, check with your university to ensure that you are conforming to their style guidelines. And do it in advance--weeks before you have to file.
The size of a margin is, compared to the conceptual issues of a dissertation, a trivial thing. But if you get your margins wrong, it could mean hours of work to reformat your document, rebuild the table of contents, and reprint the work. Sure, maybe you could do all that quickly--one hour or two--but that's a bad thing to find out if you have a pending deadline.

Check with your school for details on filing.

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