Thesis Requirements

All thesis students are required to comply with UAlbany thesis guidelines, available at: http://www.albany.edu/gradstudies/degreecomp/d3.shtml. The UAlbany thesis guidelines address many issues including the format and type of paper for thesis submission. The guidelines in this document provide additional information for Epidemiology MS students in the School of Public Health’s Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics.

According to the Graduate Bulletin  (http://www.albany.edu/graduatebulletin/epidemiology_ms_degree.htm):
“The thesis is to be conducted under the guidance of two members of the faculty (a thesis advisor and a reader). The thesis advisor and faculty advisor need not be the same person. Students may choose to have two readers instead of one. For example, the faculty advisor may be selected as an additional (second) reader when other individuals are chosen as thesis advisor and reader. The thesis must involve the analysis of data and should include a statement of the research question, a review of the literature, a description of methods and results, and a discussion. The level of detail should go beyond that of a journal article. The thesis must be presented before the faculty and students on a designated Master's Presentation Day.”

Prior to beginning the thesis:
• Each student needs to identify a thesis subject and a thesis committee, and have these approved by the student’s UAlbany faculty academic advisor.
• The thesis committee must include two UAlbany faculty members (a thesis advisor and a reader); however, three committee members are recommended. Additional committee members with expertise in the thesis subject area do not need to be faculty members. The thesis advisor is designated as the committee chair. The thesis advisor does not need to be the faculty academic advisor.
• According to UAlbany guidelines, the student submits the “Application for Approval of Subject of Thesis for the Master’s Degree” form to the academic advisor. After the advisor signs the form, it is submitted to the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, which will forward the form to the Office of Graduate Studies for final approval.

Thesis structure and content:
• The ultimate structure for each thesis is determined by the student’s thesis committee. To meet requirements for Epidemiology students, students and their thesis committee are strongly recommended to use one of the following two thesis structures.
• All theses must contain statistical analyses beyond the descriptive level, i.e., to include tests of significance for associations.
• The thesis committee will insure that the thesis includes a multivariate analysis. If not appropriate, the student can demonstrate to the thesis committee that a multivariate analysis has been done in EPI 612, another course, or another project.


Potential Thesis Style 1: Journal article plus additional information

• This thesis style would be chosen if the thesis committee determines that the thesis subject and results are sufficiently innovative and important to public health that the article is likely to be accepted for scientific publication. In addition, the thesis committee has determined that the process of conducting the study and analyses, and preparing the scientific article, is of sufficient difficulty to be worthy of meeting the thesis academic requirement.
• For this thesis style, the student must write a scientific journal article for a specific journal. The journal article will follow precisely the format of the designated journal in regards to length, headings, number of tables and figures, etc.
• This thesis style requires that the scientific journal article receive all required co-author and agency reviews and approvals, and the article must be submitted to the journal prior to submission of the thesis to UAlbany. It is not required that the article be published prior to submission of the thesis to UAlbany.
• The scientific article would serve as Chapter 2 for the thesis submitted to UAlbany.
• Chapter 1 will be an introductory chapter to:
­ Outline the larger problems addressed in the research
­ Discuss the purpose and major goals of the research
­ Provide a more comprehensive literature review of the research area than is required or allowed in the scientific article.
• Chapter 3 will be a concluding chapter to:
­ Show how the manuscript shines light on the larger problems mentioned in the introduction
­ Address the significance of the research to the field
­ Mention any aspects of the research not included in the scientific article but worthy of discussion
­ Discuss the potential for future research
­ Provide all data instruments
­ Provide any additional tables and figures that could not be included in the scientific article
­ Provide a Research Ethics appendix

Potential Thesis Style 2: Traditional thesis

• This thesis style would be chosen by the thesis committee if it is less clear that the thesis subject and results are sufficiently innovative and important to public health that the article is likely to be accepted for scientific publication. In addition, the thesis committee does not believe that the process of conducting the study and analyses, and preparing the scientific article, is of sufficient difficulty to be worthy of meeting the thesis academic requirement.
• Although the student and thesis committee may ultimately determine that it would be beneficial to submit a scientific journal article based on the thesis work for publication, it is not a requirement that the scientific journal article be reviewed and approved for submission to a journal prior to submission of the thesis to UAlbany.
• This thesis style will include the following components:
­ A title and abstract
­ Introduction
­ Background--a detailed review of the scientific literature
­ The objectives or hypothesis for the thesis research
­ Detailed methods section describing all data instruments, data gathering methods, laboratory procedures, computer software, and analytic techniques used in the study
­ Complete results of the study including all tables and figures, in addition to text narrative describing them
­ Detailed discussion comparing study results with previous scientific literature and putting study results in context
­ Analysis of the strengths and limitations of the study
­ Conclusions of the study
­ Future steps for further research or public health actions based on the study results
­ Lengthy list of scientific references
­ The Research Ethics appendix
­ Appendices for any information not included in the body of the thesis such as data instruments

Research Ethics

• Regardless of the thesis format chosen, an appendix with discussion and documentation of research ethics is required for all theses.
• If required for the study, this section should include the IRB application (with correspondence if changes were made) and the letter from the IRB showing approval.
• If the study was declared exempt from IRB approval, documentation of the exemption must be provided.

Scientific Follow-up of Thesis Work

• Students and thesis project participants should be encouraged to consider scientific follow-up of the thesis work including scientific publication or submission of a grant proposal.
• Acceptance of the student’s thesis for scientific publication should never be considered a requirement to meet UAlbany academic requirements.
• If the student is following Potential Thesis Style 1, the student must be first author on the submitted publication.
• If the student is following Potential Thesis Style 2 and plans to submit the article for scientific publication, the student should be given the choice of being first author.  If the student chooses not to be the first author of the scientific publication, the thesis advisor or another project participant may assume first author status and responsibilities, as long as the student remains as second author and other authors are included as appropriate.
• First authorship responsibilities include resolving differences among coauthors, obtaining appropriate approvals before submission, serving as the corresponding author for the journal editors, addressing all peer reviewer comments and making appropriate changes, keeping coauthors informed during the entire review and publication process, and determining with coauthors whether other journals should be considered if the thesis is not accepted by the initial journal.
• The student’s academic advisor should be considered as a coauthor if heavily involved as a thesis committee member in study decision-making and final manuscript preparation and editing.


Thesis Defense and Submission

• The oral presentation for the thesis defense should be scheduled by the student sufficiently prior to the UAlbany thesis submission date that any final changes required by the thesis committee can be made by the student before UAlbany submission.
• The thesis defense must be scheduled so that all members of the thesis committee can attend (in-person, by conference call, or by webinar), as well as the departmental chair or representative and the faculty academic advisor.
• Students must provide all members of the thesis committee the departmental chair or representative, and the faculty academic advisor a copy of the written thesis (as an electronic or hard-copy document) at least one week prior to the thesis defense.
• Students must bring to the thesis defense for each member of the thesis committee, the departmental chair or representative, and faculty academic advisor:
­ a slide handout
­ a copy of the written thesis
­ a cover sheet for the thesis with the thesis title, student name, names of all committee members, departmental chair or representative, and academic advisor, and places for each of these to sign and date the cover sheet indicating approval of the thesis for UAlbany submission.
• Students should also bring to the thesis defense a sufficient number of slide handouts for the anticipated number of guests at the thesis defense.