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Before submitting

Intention to submit and plagiarism check

The candidate and supervisor(s) should normally agree as to when sufficient work has been done to enable the final write up and subsequent submission of the thesis.

Doctoral research candidates should submit a final draft of their thesis to check for unintentional plagiarism, using Turnitin, which is available on the Blackboard website 'GRS_PHD Graduate Research Support for Doctoral Candidates', under 'Turnitin'. Candidates should be aware that the search engines for Turnitin may not capture all journals that have been used, so could miss detecting passages of text that may be copied. Candidates should carefully check any text that is highlighted as a possible match and ensure proper attribution is used. Prior to submission, candidates should show their Turnitin report to their supervisor.

To begin the examination process, candidates are requested to advise their supervisors of the intention to submit their thesis at least two months prior to submission. This will prompt the supervisors to nominate examiners and give the candidate time to submit an application for a Postgraduate Publishing Bursary, if applicable.

Approval and instruction to submit

If the thesis involves sensitive intellectual property, prior to submission, the supervisor needs to send confidentiality agreements to the convener and each examiner (internal and externals), and have all four signed documents submitted  to with the nomination of examiners form (NOE).

Should examiners wish to change aspects of these agreements that could affect the protection of intellectual property, then this should also be discussed with a Business Development Manager at the Research and Enterprise Office.

Business Development Managers

Mid-month of submission, candidates must email for approval to submit.

Student Administration (doctoral) will check that the candidate meets the following requirements to submit:

  • Currently enrolled (candidates on deferral cannot submit)
  • Minimum enrolment of 3 equivalent full time years (if less than this permission must be sought from the Graduate Research Committee)
  • Not a debtor
  • Current visa and passport holder (if international candidate)

Candidates will then be emailed approval and instructions on how to submit.  This will include the deadline by which the submission must be received for that month.

Digital thesis submission for examination

In a departure from our current Examination and Assessment Regulations (which we are in the process of updating), we are now allowing digital submission of theses.

Examination and Assessment Regulations

Candidates need to submit:

  • A digital PDF file of their thesis
  • A signed thesis submission declaration form (digital signature is acceptable) emailed to A photocopied or scanned declaration is acceptable as long as the signature is hand written or digital – not typed.
    The Thesis submission declaration form can be found here:
    Doctoral/PhD forms

Note that Academic Units may be asked to produce one or more soft-bound copies for the examiners.

The signed declaration attests that the work was done by the candidate personally (or that the thesis contains co-authored work), that the material has not previously been accepted in whole, or in part, for any other degree or diploma, and that the thesis has been checked for plagiarism.

COVID-19 impacts on thesis – If COVID-19 has significantly impacted the nature of your research, this form can be used to provide guidance to examiners about the nature of the disruption.

Submission of the thesis is acknowledged by return email from the Student Administration (doctoral). PhD enrolment formally ceases on processing of submission, but candidates retain access to resources until completion of the examination process and the digital submission of their final thesis to Our Archive.

Celebration of thesis submission

Submitting your thesis for examination is a significant achievement, and one which we celebrate at the University of Otago. The Graduate Research School has a long-standing tradition of gifting doctoral candidates a chocolate fish when they submit their thesis for examination.

For candidates in Dunedin

visit the Graduate Research School at 103 St David Street (by the St David St footbridge) on the first Tuesday and Thursday of the month between 2pm and 4pm to collect your chocolate fish.

Dates for 2024 are as follows:

  • January 9
  • February 1
  • March 5 and 7
  • April 4
  • May 2 and 7
  • June 4 and 6
  • July 2 and 4
  • August 1 and 6
  • September 3 and 5
  • October 1 and 3
  • November 5 and 7
  • December 3 and 5

For candidates at the University of Otago, Christchurch

Contact the Manager, Academic Programmes, in the Dean's Department to make an appointment to collect your chocolate fish.

For candidates at the University of Otago, Wellington

Contact the Postgraduate Liaison Officer in the Postgraduate Office to make an appointment to collect your chocolate fish.

For candidates submitting off-campus or overseas

Please email to request your fish is mailed to you.

After submission

Candidates should be aware that email contact after submission is to their candidate email address. They will need to forward their emails if they wish them to go to a different email address. Student Administration (doctoral) handle all enquiries regarding the progress of examination after submission

Student Administration (doctoral)

Visit The Examination Process page for more details on the structure of the examination process.

Preparing for leaving the University

While your thesis is being examined there are two aspects to be aware of:

  1. Applying for a Postgraduate Publishing Bursary – if you have submitted in under 4 EFTS (equivalent to 4 full-time years), and are not working more than 10 hours per week, you should be eligible for this grant, which provides up to 3 months funding support to allow you to publish from your thesis
  2. Losing access to resources, including your Otago email address –  during the examination process you should be able to continue accessing resources such as your ID card, wifi, the Library, Blackboard, and after-hours access to buildings. If you do lose access to these resources, support is available to determine whether you should continue to have access.

When you submit your final thesis after completing the examination process, you will only be able to access the above resources for a further two weeks. This allows you time to tidy up your office and prepare to leave the University.

Your Otago email address and Office365 should still be available, at least until you graduate.

In preparation for losing your email address, you are strongly encouraged to generate a permanent and professional email address. Also, before graduation, you should ensure you have transferred any files you need from your Otago Office365 account.

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