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Prepare your thesis

Throughout your research candidature you will work toward producing your final thesis. There are some key points to keep in mind when you start this process.

Your thesis must be a coherent and cohesive whole. You can submit a thesis including publications but we don't accept thesis by publication. Refer to the relevant Thesis and Examination policy (pdf, 392KB) and discuss this with your supervisor.

There are also certain formatting and referencing requirements that are outlined below.

You can also find more general information on research skills, planning and writing your thesis in the research skills for HDR students page. This includes literature reviews, writing up results and theses including publications.

Proofreading and editing

You can use an editor to prepare your thesis for submission. Make sure you discuss your plans with your supervisor and provide your editor with a copy of the University’s Thesis Submission and Examination Procedures (pdf, 180KB).

When you use an editor:

  • include the editor’s name and a brief description of the service provided in your list of acknowledgements at the front of your thesis. For creative work, make sure this information is included when it's presented for examination.
  • you need to state the editor’s current or former area of academic specialisation if this is similar to your own.


You will find information on word limits in the below policies and procedures, or in your faculty or school handbook.

Word limits include footnotes and all material in the main body of the thesis. Bibliographies and appendices are not included in the overall word count.

If you have questions about formatting, you can speak to your supervisor or postgraduate coordinator.

Thesis frontispiece sections

The frontispiece includes the parts of your thesis before the main content.

Thesis title and abstract

The following upper limits apply to your title and abstract content submitted on RECS for the final lodgement:

  • thesis title: maximum 250 characters including spaces, in title case not uppercase.
  • thesis abstract: maximum 2000 characters including spaces.

Login to Sydney Student (go to ‘My studies’, then 'Research details') to update and maintain your thesis title and thesis abstract.

Note that there are no characters limits for the title and abstract in the actual pdf of the thesis. 

Title page

Your thesis title page should state:

  • your name
  • title of the thesis
  • faculty name
  • the University’s full name – The University of Sydney
  • an appropriate submission statement, for example:
    • for theses only: A thesis submitted to fulfil requirements for the degree of Doctor/Master of Philosophy (or other higher degree by research)
    • for theses with a creative component: A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of requirements for the degree of Doctor/Master of Philosophy (or other higher degree by research).
  • a statement if you have been in receipt of a Research Training Program scholarship: "This research reported in this thesis was supported by the award of a Research Training Program scholarship to the PhD Candidate."

Statement of originality

You need to include a statement of originality, usually placed after the title page, for example:

This is to certify that to the best of my knowledge, the content of this thesis is my own work. This thesis has not been submitted for any degree or other purposes.

I certify that the intellectual content of this thesis is the product of my own work and that all the assistance received in preparing this thesis and sources have been acknowledged.


*you should only include the signature in the copy you submit for examination, not the library copy.

Authorship attribution statement

If your thesis contains material you have previously published, you need to discuss an authorship attribution statement with your supervisor and submit this statement as part of your final thesis submission. It should indicate the name and publication details of the published work, as well as specify your contribution.

Such a statement typically appears in the frontispiece of your thesis.

If the publication in which your work has previously appeared has a convention about author order, then you need to include this information after each relevant attribution statement (for example, Journal of XXXX requires that the lead author must be corresponding author).

This only applies where you have made a substantial contribution to the paper. You cannot present minor contributions to published works in the main body of your thesis – these can only be included as appendices.

Example: Chapters published as papers/edited book chapters

Chapter x of this thesis is published as [citation].
I designed the study, analysed the data and wrote the drafts of the MS.

Chapter y of this thesis is published as [citation].
I designed the study, extracted the data and wrote the drafts of the MS.

Chapter z of this thesis is published as [citation].
I co-designed the study with the co-authors, interpreted the analysis done by A.N. Other and wrote the drafts of the MS.

Example: Published material distributed through the thesis

This thesis contains material published in [citation]. This is section x.y; figure s.t, and pages p-q of section y.z. I did... [describe your role].

Attesting your authorship attribution statement

You and your supervisor need to attest to an authorship attribution statement under the Thesis and Examination Policy and Procedures (pdf, 185KB). The following are suggested:

Example 1

In addition to the statements above, in cases where I am not the corresponding author of a published item, permission to include the published material has been granted by the corresponding author.

Student Name, Signature, Date

Example 2

As supervisor for the candidature upon which this thesis is based, I can confirm that the authorship attribution statements above are correct.

Supervisor Name, Signature, Date


You should refer to the Thesis and Examination of Higher Degrees by Research Procedures (pdf, 180KB) for information about the inclusion of published material you wrote, or contributed to as an author. This includes use of citations and quotations.

If your thesis contains material you have previously published, an authorship attribution statement, outlined above, may be included.

More information can be found in the Thesis and Examination of Higher Degrees by Research Policy (pdf, 194KB) and the University of Sydney (Higher Degree by Research) Rule (pdf, 877KB).

The responsibilities of all researchers, academic staff and students are outlined in our Research Code of Conduct (pdf, 484KB). This defines research misconduct and breaches of the Code related to plagiarism.

File type for submission

You need to submit your thesis as a pdf file. This is the required format for us to submit your thesis into Turnitin for similarity detection. If we receive a file in another format, then the conversion to pdf will not be controlled by you and may result in unacceptable or undesirable formatting changes. Be aware, once a thesis file is submitted for examination, it is not possible to withdraw it for revisions unless under the provisions of the Thesis and Examination of Higher Degree by Research Students Policy.

Higher Degree by Research Administration Centre


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Last updated: 27 November 2023

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