2021 Updates to Policies and Procedures

2021 Updates to Policies and Procedures

The Graduate Studies Office is implementing the following procedures for obtaining signatures on hard copy milestone paperwork and for conducting thesis/dissertation defenses effective Fall 2021.

Original signatures on milestone paperwork

Students and advisors/committee members should determine the most appropriate method of approving hard-copy milestone documents. The Graduate Studies Office will accept the following forms of approval:

  • Emails as signatures.
  • Verified electronic signatures.
  • Physical signatures.

All documents and approvals must be submitted to department staff. Students should submit their items as email forwards or attachments to department staff if approvals are collected via email. Graduate Studies will not accept documents directly from students.

Official IU email addresses must be used if approvals are being made by email.

Staff will obtain approval from the departmental chair, if applicable, and then upload the form and email approvals to GEMS. Documents will be processed in the order they are received.

Procedures for Defenses and Dissertations

In-person defenses will resume as the standard exam format beginning with the reopening of on-campus activities in Fall 2021.  However, committees may continue to elect to conduct defenses online using tools such as Zoom and Skype without School of Education approval.

The candidate and committee must agree to the defense format no later than 30 days before the defense date.  Mixed in-person and online participation by the candidate and committee members should be avoided if possible.  However, public components of in-person defenses that would exceed gathering size limits must be facilitated online (see Public Components below).

In-person defenses must adhere to IU, City of Bloomington, Monroe County, and State of Indiana public health regulations; online defenses must utilize the best practices and guidelines described below.

Thesis and Dissertation Acceptance Pages

Ed.D. and M.S.Ed.: After revisions are complete and the committee accepts the thesis or dissertation, each member should email their approval to gsorecdr@indiana.edu in place of signed acceptance pages. Official IU email addresses must be used. Correctly formatted, but unsigned versions of the acceptance page and abstract are still included in the dissertation.

Ph.D.: The online Defense Signature Collection Form will continue to be used instead of signed acceptance pages for in-person and online defenses.  The form will route to each member of the committee to record approval. Correctly formatted, but unsigned versions of the acceptance page and abstract are still included in the dissertation.

Best Practices for Conducting Defenses Online

Defense Format: Defenses conducted online should follow the same format and include the same components customarily required by the department for in-person defenses as closely as possible.  Any portions of the defense in which the candidate is not ordinarily present may require the candidate to leave the conference and pause any recording temporarily.

Public Components:  Departments should adapt their regular practices to allow for online public access.  This could be facilitated through the public distribution of the conference link after the defense has been formally scheduled for online defenses. Additionally, the conference should be restricted to the candidate and research committee following the public session.  See the resources below for participant management instructions for Zoom.

Logistical Guidelines for Online Defenses

Defenses conducted online during this period should follow these logistical guidelines:

  • The candidate and all committee members must agree in advance to remote participation and all video communication arrangements. Video conferences must be hosted by a research committee member or a department staff member and not by the candidate.
  • The examining department is responsible for providing adequate technical accommodations that allow all participants to see and hear each other throughout the defense and view any text, graphics, or other visuals referenced.
  • If the accommodations are not adequate for the examination, the candidate or the research committee may elect to postpone the defense until later without penalty. However, Graduate Studies must be notified of any rescheduled defense, and a new defense announcement may be required.
  • In the event of a technical failure, the defense proceedings must be stopped and may not resume until any technical issues are resolved.
  • Defenses conducted through remote technology may only be audio or video recorded with advance permission from the research committee chair and candidate and must adhere to departmental and school guidelines for recording defenses.

Resources for Conducting Defenses Online

"About Zoom at IU," Knowledge Base

Learn more about using the Zoom web collaboration tool available to all IU faculty, staff, and students.

Zoom Help Center

Get help using Zoom through an extensive directory of help topics.

Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning

Access resources and strategies for online communication and pedagogy during the prolonged suspension of face-to-face instruction.

"Improve and troubleshoot your Zoom experience," Knowledge Base

Troubleshoot common issues with operating Zoom.

"Prevent Zoombombing using Zoom privacy and security features," Knowledge Base

Learn how to make Zoom more secure and avoid "zoombombing."

"How to Keep Uninvited Guests Out of Your Zoom Event," Zoom Blog

Best practices for improving Zoom conference security.

We understand that travel restrictions and other difficulties may have resulted in a delay of the defense so that it impinges on academic benchmarks, such as candidacy limits. Please know that we will continue to entertain requests for exceptions to any deadline that might be missed because of the pandemic.

Updated 8/3/2021