In Fall 2019, the Graduate College shifted to electronic committee verification of all theses and dissertations submitted via ProQuest. Committee members no longer need to sign the Report of Thesis Approval—to verify the thesis—prior to deposit with the Graduate College. Instead, committee members now receive an email that provides a link to the final version of the thesis and directs them to verify the manuscript. Committee verification now follows the Graduate College format review. Verification is a required step in the thesis approval process.
Committee review of the thesis should not change. Students will still defend, work closely with their committee to finalize the thesis, and then submit the thesis to the Graduate College for format review. What has changed is that students no longer need to submit a signed Report of Thesis Approval with their thesis deposit. Committee verification is collected electronically after the Graduate College format review is complete.
Why did the Graduate College shift to electronic committee verification of theses submitted via ProQuest?
The Graduate College made this shift for two reasons: convenience and security.
Convenience: Moving from a paper-based system to electronic verification has made thesis sign-off more convenient. Instead of tracking signatures on a hard copy approval form, committee members simply sign off on the thesis through an email link. This shift eliminates the administrative burden of signature procurement, replacing it with an electronic tool designed to collect and manage signatures.
Security: Shifting the order in which committee verification is collected—to after Graduate College format review—has added needed security to the thesis approval process. It has been a concern of the Graduate College for as long as we’ve collected hard copy signatures prior to deposit that members have not actually verified the finalized manuscript. With electronic verification, committee members will now confirm that the final version of the thesis is the same as the version they approved.
What about MFA students who submit hard copy theses?
MFA students who prefer to submit their thesis in hard copy form still need to submit a signed Report of Thesis Approval at the time of deposit.
Under the new process, what changes?
Both the means and the timing of committee member verification have changed.
First, electronic verification has replaced the signed Report of Thesis Approval. Students no longer need to provide proof of thesis verification via the signed Report of Thesis Approval when they deposit their thesis on ProQuest. Instead, committee members receive an email that provides a link to the finalized (post-format review) thesis and prompts them to verify the manuscript electronically.
Second, committee verification now happens after the Graduate College’s format review, not before. Under the previous system, committee members did not have an opportunity to view the finalized manuscript. Though rare, the possibility that a student mistakenly submitted a version of the thesis that differed from the committee-approved version did exist. Under the new process, committee members can now be sure that the version of the thesis they verify is the same as the version the Graduate College approves.
Under the new process, what stays the same?
The process of completing the manuscript does not change. Students will still complete their defense, work closely with their committee members to finalize the thesis, and submit the thesis to the Graduate College for format review.
How are committee members contacted?
Committee members—whether from the University of Iowa or an outside institution—receive an email directly from ProQuest. During the registration process, students enter both the names of their committee members and their email addresses. Once the format review portion of the process concludes, each committee member will receive an email from firstname.lastname@example.org(link sends e-mail).