How I Structured My Doctoral Thesis in Format Two

Editor’s note: this article, published in 2020, makes reference to a previous edition of the AUT Postgraduate Handbook that is now out of date. The most recent edition can be downloaded here (student login required).

Earlier this week on Thesislink I wrote about my experiences with the writing and examination process for my doctoral thesis in Format Two (manuscript format). This post gives a bit more detail on how I structured my thesis.

Manuscripts should be presented as they have been published or in-press or accepted for publication, or submitted for the target publication.  This means that you cannot make any changes to the content. Inclusion or deletions of any parts of the manuscript are not allowed. However, certain parts of manuscripts (such as abstracts) can be omitted, and references can be listed by chapter under the final reference list for the entire thesis. The normal word limit is between 45,000 and 100,000 words.

Inserting a copy of the published journal as a discrete chapter is not acceptable. The content should be included as-is, but all chapters should follow standard formatting and presentation throughout the thesis as advised in the 2020 Postgraduate Handbook. An exemplar format is provided on page 102 of the handbook.

I have structured my manuscript format thesis as follows:

Cover page: Title of the thesis, name, affiliation, lodgement statements, etc. Refer to p.108 of the Postgraduate Handbook.

Declaration: Attestation of authorship. Refer to p.108 of the Postgraduate Handbook for the statement. You should sign underneath the statement.

Co-authored work: Since a Format Two thesis includes manuscripts, this section is mandatory. The co-author’s contributions for each manuscript must be deliberated in this section. The student’s contribution must be at least 80% of the work. If the student’s contribution is less than 80%, then you cannot include those manuscripts in the thesis. This declaration should include signatures and percentage contributions of all co-authors and a qualitative statement of all contributions.


Chapter number Manuscript title Publisher and DOI Co-author percentage Description of their contribution
01 IoT for the future IEEE Access Author 1: 82%
Author 2: 5%
Author 3: 3%
Author 4: 5%
Author 5: 5%
Author 1: Novelty, fabrication, measurement, and writing
Author 2: Literature
Author 3: Proofreading
Author 4: Simulation
Author 5: Literature and proofreading

Copyright Notice: As manuscripts will be directly included from published, in-press, or submitted journals, a copyright statement from that journal should be listed here. Most journals allow authors to reuse published articles in their thesis or dissertation without requesting permission, provided the author includes the copyright notice. But it is a good idea to check with your publisher. If you have materials from different journal publishers, you should put copyright statements for every publisher under this section.

Abstract: The abstract of the thesis.

Acknowledgement: Personal acknowledgements can go here if you want to add them.

IP rights: As explained in the Postgraduate Handbook, if the thesis material “could or does have implications for the Intellectual Property rights of the student, the University, a sponsor of the research or some other person or body,” (p.109) then those implications should be stated.

Ethics approval: Ethics approval details go here.

Confidential material: An Application for Embargo (PGR16 form) must be submitted if there is sensitive information.

Contents: Contents of the thesis with page numbers.

List of figures: List of all the figure captions with page numbers.

List of tables: List of all the table captions with page numbers.

List of acronyms: List of all the acronyms/abbreviations used in the thesis.

List of symbols: List of all symbols and special characters used.

Introduction: Introduction to the research and some details on the research questions, research methodology used, and how the thesis is formatted (manuscript style).

Literature review: This could be your Manuscript 1 if you have written a review article that has a very intense literature review. Otherwise, this chapter should be written to show what has been done already and critically review those works against your proposed research. The ‘Literature/Related works’ section in each manuscript should not be removed as the manuscript should be included as is. Therefore, this literature review section must contain new information and not provide redundant content.

Prelude to manuscript 1: This section gives the introduction to Manuscript 1. Use this section to enhance the cohesiveness of the thesis. You may introduce to the readers that this section will answer research questions 1 and 2 using ‘a’ and ‘b’ research methodology.

Manuscript 1 (Chapter 1): Chapter 1 will be the first manuscript (unless you used a manuscript for your literature review). Include the manuscript as is. You may remove the abstract and reference sections.

Prelude to Manuscript 2: This section will conclude the previous chapter and introduce the next chapter. You may use this section to link between chapters – mention which research questions are going to be addressed in the following chapter.

Manuscript 2 (Chapter 2): Your second manuscript will be your second chapter. Include the manuscript as is. You may remove the abstract and reference sections.

Manuscripts 3+ (Chapters 3+): I had ten manuscripts, and thus, I had ten chapters of original contributions.

Discussion: An overall discussion of the contributions made towards the research topic and research questions.

Conclusion: Thesis conclusion. This may include an indication of limitations and future work as well.

References: I used APA style referencing. You may include references based on different chapters.

This is not the only way to structure a Format Two thesis, but it is one way to include all the necessary elements.

About Prabakar Parthiban

Prabakar Parthiban received the Bachelor of Electronics and Communications Engineering degree (First Class) from Anna University, India, in 2010, and the Master of Engineering Studies degree (with Distinction) from the Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand, in 2012, where he is currently pursuing the Ph.D. degree in electronics engineering (majoring antennas and microwave). He has been a Senior RF engineer with Times-7 Research Ltd., New Zealand, since 2012. His current research interests are in antenna design using non-conventional radio frequency substrate materials.

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