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Thesis Committee Chair Roles and Assignment Process
When members of the faculty in a graduate program accept the duty of serving as a committee to advise a student through the thesis requirement to earn a master’s degree, they assume a dual responsibility of high importance. One part is service to the student; the other is service to the academic practice, the discipline, and the professional field to which the thesis is related. For the first part, expectations concerning the faculty service to be performed are determined by the needs of the student and university academic policy pertaining to how these are to be addressed. For the second, expectations are set both by university academic policy and by policies and practice that frame acceptable work in the discipline and professional field at large.
Role of Thesis Supervisory Committee Chairperson
The individual faculty member who serves as chairperson of the thesis committee is the key person in the process of a student’s production of an acceptable thesis. The chairperson has the primary responsibility of assuring that the work of the committee effectively fulfills both the expectations of service to the student and service to the academic discipline or disciplines and professional fields of practice involved. While the thesis must be the student’s work, the committee is expected to offer full support from their experiences and backgrounds and related resources of the university at large. For more information on the specific duties of the Thesis Chair, please consult the Thesis Guidebook.
Nomination of the Thesis Chair
Students begin the thesis phase of their program when they nominate a committee chairperson. Visit the Thesis Process web page and see the Committee Nomination form.
The form must be completed and submitted to the chosen faculty member. The faculty member then submits the form to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Office of Student Research Administration (OSRA) will not accept an approval form for a directly from the student. Approval of the committee and registration will be coordinated by the Graduate Student Services Coordinators and the Academic Advising Team.
Students are responsible for verifying that the Graduate Student Services Coordinator (email@example.com) receives the completed Committee Nomination form and that they are registered for the correct course(s).
Changing a Thesis Chair
The approved thesis chair will serve students until their theses have been completed and approved. Only under special circumstances will the replacement of a chair be considered once work on a thesis has commenced. When circumstances arise that necessitate reconsideration of faculty appointments, the process detailed below will be followed to help minimize disruption of academic service.
If a student is pursuing a change in thesis chair, he or she will need to discuss this issue with the academic advising team to identify potential replacements. Once a potential member is found, the student will be responsible to obtain written assent from this new member to serve on his or her committee.
In requesting a change for one or multiple committee members, a student will need to file a Student Petition form with the college. The petition will be reviewed and a decision will be rendered by the associate dean or designee of the college. Students should take the following steps in requesting the change:
- Include written approval (e-mail) from the proposed member. Students requesting to change a committee member for another faculty member will need to obtain assent from the proposed member. A petition that fails to include the approval from the new proposed member will not be considered.
- Describe the outcome that the student is seeking. Example: “I would like to change my chairperson from Dr. Smith to Dr. Jones.”
- Provide a detailed rationale that demonstrates the need for the requested change.
Any change in committee formation will become effective at the start of the next term. Additional information about this process can be obtained from the Graduate Services Coordinators of the OSRA at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Thesis University Research Review (URR)
Purpose of URR
The University Research Review (URR) process is the quality management mechanism for capstone research at Walden University. The goal of URR is to facilitate quality student research through a supportive environment of committee members dedicated to a collaborative enterprise. Below are a description of the URR reviewer role and the URR assignment process.
Role of URR Reviewer
The purpose of the University Research Review (URR) reviewer is to enable students to complete theses with the highest level of quality possible for them by providing a source of independent feedback on all aspects of their work. Their independence enables them to view a thesis in the manner that a potential employer or research colleague would view it.
URR Reviewer Assignment Process
University Research Review reviewers will be assigned to the master’s thesis in the following manner:
- The URR reviewer assignment process will be facilitated by the Office of Student Research Administration. Send correspondence to email@example.com.
- A URR database of reviewers’ content and methodology expertise will be maintained by the graduate programs to facilitate the matching process.
- The student (with a copy sent to the committee chair) will submit the prospectus and a URR Request form to the OSRA to forward to the appropriate program for URR assignment. Using the prospectus or the information entered in the University Research Review Request form, the program will assign a URR reviewer to the committee.
- The focus of the match will primarily be based upon research design/methods (qualitative, quantitative, mixed-methods), rather than subject matter, because the focus of the input provided by this committee member will be on issues such as methodology, data analysis, use of primary sources, organization, and so on, that transcend topic areas. Subject-matter feedback will be provided by the content expert of the committee.
- All URR reviewers must meet approved requirements for serving in this capacity and must complete the university’s URR Orientation Module.
- Should the focus of a student’s project change to a methodology with which the assigned URR reviewer is not familiar, a new URR reviewer can be assigned to the committee at the request of the chair or the URR reviewer.
URR Thesis Review Process
The URR reviewer will complete an initial review of the thesis using the rubric (found on the Thesis Process web page), which includes items relevant to content, methodology, form and style, abstract, and ethical procedures. Once the URR reviewer has completed the review, he or she will send the outcome of the review to the chair while copying firstname.lastname@example.org. Once the chair receives the materials from the URR reviewer, he or she will distribute them to the student and committee.
At this stage, the URR reviewer can refer the student for mandatory consultation with the IRB office and/or Writing Center to address ethical or writing concerns, respectively. URR reviewers are obligated to make IRB/Writing Center referrals should they note significant ethical or writing concerns. Once the URR reviewer has completed the review, he or she will send the outcome of the review to the chair while copying email@example.com.
At the request of the URR reviewer or committee chair, an optional pre-oral conference can be scheduled to include the URR reviewer and committee to discuss recommendations of the URR reviewer and reach agreement about changes that are necessary before the proposal oral. It is recommended that the pre-oral conference be held when there are serious concerns raised by the URR reviewer and/or when the committee requests the opportunity for discussion and clarification. The purpose of the pre-oral conference is to prevent multiple submissions and reviews and thus facilitate the process of completion.
When changes have been requested by the URR reviewer after the initial review, the chair will work with the student to make the requested revision. When the chair feels that the necessary revisions have been made, he/she will forward the thesis along with the rubric and a Turnitin.com report to the URR reviewer while copying firstname.lastname@example.org. The URR reviewer will then review the materials. Once the URR reviewer deems the thesis ready for Form and Style Review, he or she will send an e-mail to email@example.com indicating this information along with the URR reviewer-approved thesis and Turnitin.com report.
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Thesis Completion Process
Once a thesis chair has been assigned and approved, students will proceed through the following steps as they complete their thesis.
||Items to Be Completed
||The prospectus is a brief document that provides preliminary information about a student’s thesis. The prospectus helps students organize, delineate, and make decisions regarding their theses and appropriate research style. It is submitted simultaneously with the committee nomination forms to the Office of Student Research Administration (firstname.lastname@example.org) and the student’s tentative (i.e., non-approved) chair.
For more information visit our Thesis Process page and see “Thesis Prospectus.”
|Proposal (for proposal-only theses, skip to Completed Thesis URR)
||The proposal comprises the first three chapters of a five-chapter thesis. These chapters establish the rational for conducting the study and describe the design and methodology it will utilize.
|Proposal University Research Review
Once the chair is satisfied that the first three chapters of the thesis meet all of the requirements specified in the appropriate rubric (see the Thesis Rubrics on the Thesis Process web page), the chair will submit the proposal to email@example.com for review.
The student’s URR reviewer will review the proposal using the thesis rubric, and will either approve the proposal, which enables the student to set up an oral conference, or return the proposal with a set of required revisions.
|Proposal Oral Conference
Following URR reviewer approval, the student will present the proposal to the chair and second member via a teleconference scheduled with the Office of Student Research Administration (OSRA).
For more information on this step, see your Thesis Guidebook and visit the Walden Research Center web page.
Walden’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) reviews each study conducted by Walden students to determine if the anticipated benefits of the study outweigh risks associated with participation in it.
For more information on the IRB approval process, consult the Office of Research Ethics and Compliance web page.
|Completion of Thesis
||Following IRB approval, students collect, analyze, and report their findings, and complete the remaining chapters or sections of their thesis.
|Completed Thesis URR
||Once the chair is satisfied that the abstract and full thesis meet all of the requirements specified in the appropriate rubric, the chair will submit the thesis for review.
For instructions on submission of a completed capstone for URR, visit the Thesis Process web page.
|Form and Style Review
||Upon approval of the completed thesis by the student’s URR reviewer, the document will be submitted to a Form and Style (F&S) editor for an F&S Review, a final check for errors in APA style, spelling, grammar, punctuation, and related issues.
|Complete Thesis Oral Conference
Following F&S approval, the student will present the thesis to the chair via a teleconference scheduled with the OSRA. The oral conference is a formal discussion of the scholarly content of the thesis followed by an evaluation of the student’s thesis.
For more information on this step, see your Thesis Guidebook and visit the Walden Research Center web page for further step-by-step guidance.
|Final URR Review
After successful completion of the oral and committee approval of the thesis, the chair forwards the final document along with the consensus rubric to the URR reviewer for review while copying firstname.lastname@example.org. At this time, the URR reviewer conducts a final review to make sure all methodological, content, and writing issues have been addressed.
In addition, the URR reviewer reviews the abstract to make sure it meets university guidelines.
|Chief Academic Officer Review
||When approval from the URR reviewer has been received, the OSRA will send the abstract of the thesis to the university Chief Academic Officer (CAO) or designate. Upon CAO approval, the thesis is officially completed.