The thesis write-up is considered a major part of the thesis project. The report should include a clear statement of the problem and why it is of interest or importance, a description of the history and background literature on the subject, a statement of the author's work and observations, a discussion of the author's findings in relation to those of predecessors, the author's conclusions and suggestions for further work. Extensive data, code, or mathematical derivations should be in appendices rather than in the body of the report. Specific bibliographic citations should be included whenever reference is made to documents or other communications. It must be well written, clearly organized, and contain no stylistic or grammatical errors. Supervisors are encouraged to require early drafts, to provide criticism of the writing as well as the technical content, to require re-writes, and to insist that the final document conform to accepted standards of technical writing. The final grade should be based in part on the writing quality of the thesis. The Writing and Communication Center and the EECS Communication Lab offers free consultation on writing issues.
This academic year's deadlines are listed on the front page of this document. Note that the Department's final thesis deadlines are much LATER than the Institute's deadlines. Going past the Institute's Deadline to the Department's Deadline is NOT considered an extension and does NOT require any permission. The Institute Deadline means nothing to Course VI students. Do NOT call us or email to check the deadline: Trust us!
Here's Why: The Department Deadline is later than the Institute one because the Institute allows ten days after its deadline for supervisors to read and grade theses. We know from experience that by the time they are ready to sign theses, supervisors know the grade. Therefore our deadline for theses is also the deadline for final grades to be submitted to the Undergraduate Office. Students must bring to us the completed grade sheet with the final copies of the thesis.
The Department's thesis deadline means that students who hand in theses after that date are not guaranteed that their final thesis grade will be posted in time for them to graduate that term. Students who hand in a thesis late may be able to graduate at Commencement but not have their names in the Commencement Book. Students who fail to graduate because their thesis wasn't submitted in time will have to register for the following term, get on that term's degree list, and graduate at the end of it. No extensions of that guarantee beyond the final Department Deadline (as listed on the front of this guide) are possible. No thesis supervisor is empowered to extend the deadline. Since there are no extensions, there are no forms to be filled out to get an extension.
Students should NOT give up at the deadline, but should hand in their theses as fast as possible. You may hand in your thesis on any weekday during business hours, at any time of the year. Students who miss the deadline but are very close to finishing should email Anne Hunter (firstname.lastname@example.org) on the morning AFTER the Final Thesis Deadline, so we can reassure you and encourage you to keep working, knowing we're pulling for you. Please eliminate calls to the Undergraduate Office to inquire about extensions, especially ON or BEFORE the deadline. We save all of our strength and sympathy for those who actually miss the deadline, so that we just don't want to deal with people trying to get extensions on or before the deadline.
Try not to wait until the afternoon of the deadline to submit your thesis. Make sure well in advance that your supervisor will be here when you need his or her signature; no thesis can be accepted without a supervisor's original signature on the title pages. The Department signature (Christopher J. Terman) will be furnished automatically later. Be sure to pick up a grade sheet from the Undergraduate Office before you hand in your thesis. Have your supervisor fill out the grade sheet at the same time that he or she signs your thesis. Remember that your final thesis grade must be handed in with your thesis. In emergencies we will accept phoned-in or emailed grades from supervisors as long as the grade sheet is sent promptly.
Submit only two (2) copies of your thesis. They must both be on acid free paper. The title page (see samples in Section 27 and Section 28) must bear your and your thesis supervisor's original signatures as well as the signature of the VI-A company thesis supervisor if VI-A thesis. The Departmental signature will be provided later. It is customary to give your thesis supervisor at least one copy when you finish.
The copies must be submitted in temporary binders consisting of two pieces of cardboard and binder clips, pictured right. (Note the placement of the binder clip at the upper left of the document including the covers). These are available free for recycled ones in a cabinet outside the Preservation Services Section of the Libraries (14N-0513), and new at CopyTech. Do not hole-punch or bind your thesis in any other way. On the front cover of each binder, tape a label containing your name.
Before you come to the Course VI Undergraduate Office to submit your thesis, use the checklist to be sure you're ready. You must bring the grade sheet/thesis receipt form with you when you hand in your thesis. Do not trust anyone else to hand carry the grade sheet or let it be sent in the Institute mail. At that time your name will be checked against the Degree List. If you intend to graduate in that term and you're not on that list (which is maintained by the Registrar) you can add yourself. If you've followed these instructions successfully, your thesis will be accepted, and your thesis receipt/grade sheet will be stamped with an official Department stamp. Keep your receipt; it is your evidence that you did turn in a thesis.
Putting your thesis on DSpace is now required, as it preserves your research at MIT and makes it available to the world on line. Follow the Document Services Instructions to do this and bring the email acknowledgement when you submit your thesis. In the case of patent or is classified, please let us know the problem.
The Department's Exit Survey Receipt
Please complete the department's survey completely, so that we can consider student feedback and experience in our programs. Bring the survey receipt with you when you submit your thesis.