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Top 10 Dissertation & Thesis Mistakes

We've compiled a list here of the most common mistakes we see students make in formatting and submitting their dissertations and theses. Please review the list before submitting your own documents. Detailed guidelines are available in the Dissertation & Thesis section, and you can direct additional questions and concerns to

1. Forgetting the Survey of Earned Doctorates

Doctoral students are required to fill out the Survey of Earned Doctorates. The survey is available online at

The Graduate School can view what students have completed the survey.  We also receive an email confirmation once a student completes the survey. Students do not need to provide any hard copies of this survey to the Graduate School.  

 2. Incorrect Margins

Margins must be either 1-inch or 1 1/2-inches, on all sides.

 3. Signature Page Instructions






Signature pages are completed electronically by using the following links:


The PhD/DMA:*

Students are responsible for starting the process of completing their signature page after a successful defense. The Graduate School must receive the signature page prior to the thesis/dissertation deadline, as this is the main indicator that the thesis or dissertation has committee approval. Exceptions will not be granted.

For PhD students, dissertations and signature pages are due 3 months from the date of defense or by the semester deadline listed on the Graduate School Calendar, whichever date comes first. For Masters students, theses and signature pages are due by the semester deadline on the calendar.

4. Confusing the Original Signature Page with the Signature Page in Electronic File

Do not scan the original signature page into the electronic dissertation submission. Please refer to the dissertation templates in the Forms section of the website, under "Forms for Graduating Students,"  for the appropriate format for the signature page of the dissertation. The page lists committee members, but does not include space for their signatures.

5. Incorrect Preliminary Page Numbers

The page numbers for the preliminary pages must be lower-case Roman numerals, placed at the bottom center. The title page and copyright page (if applicable) should be left unnumbered.

6. University Name: Stony Brook University

On the title page, signature page, and abstract page, the university name must read Stony Brook University, not State University of New York at Stony Brook or State University at Stony Brook. 

7. Incorrect Title & Abstract Page Formatting

Degree & Program Name

  • Use the full name of the degree, Doctor of Philosophy not PhD.
  • Use the correct program name on the title and abstract pages. Please refer to Appendix B of the Guidelines for a full list of program names.
  • On the title and abstract pages, do not write "Department of" before the department or program name. So the text should read "Chemistry" not "Department of Chemistry."
  • The word "Master" is singular when writing out the degree name in full, sp "Master of Science in Chemistry" as opposed to "Master's of Science in Chemistry."  


Masters of Science


the Department of Chemistry
Master of Science



Month & Year

On the title page, the month and year refers to graduation date, not the defense date. The month and year should not be separated by a comma. 

May, 2017
May 2017


Please use our templates for formatting the preliminary pages, including the abstract. The templates are available in the Forms section of the website, under "Forms for Graduating Students." 

8. Incorrect Placement of References & Bibliography

The bibliography or reference material can be included after each chapter; however, a complete list should also appear at the end of the manuscript. The bibliography or reference section must always be placed after the main text and before any appendices.

9. Incorrect Fonts

The font must be consistent throughout the text. Fonts can differ for tables, figures, and graphs, but all main text, including the preliminary pages, main body, and reference material) must be the same.

10. Not Reviewing Guidelines

Please read the guidelines carefully and use the most updated version, which can be found on our website. Use these instructions to ensure work is in the correct format. Do not use a previously submitted thesis or dissertation as a guide