The multiple-paper thesis option allows PhD candidates to build the PhD thesis around several papers (usually 3 in Public Health Sciences) that are considered to be of publishable quality by the student’s thesis committee. This option differs from the traditional thesis in format rather than content. The amount of detail that can be included in papers prepared for publication is limited by journal page requirements. Therefore, in addition to the papers, the thesis will include one or more introductory chapters and a final synthesis chapter as described in the following
excerpt from the School of Graduate Studies, University of Toronto Handbook:
The candidate, through the graduate unit, shall present a thesis embodying the results of
original investigation, conducted by the candidate, on the approved topic from the major
field. The thesis shall constitute a significant contribution to the knowledge of the field
and must be based on research conducted while registered for the PhD program.
A thesis should have a coherent topic with an introduction presenting the general themes
of the research and a conclusion summarizing and integrating the major findings.
Nonetheless, it may contain a collection of several papers. The collection of papers may
be expanded or supplemented by unpublished material, scholarly notes, and necessary
appendices. In all theses, pagination should be continuous and there should be a common
table of contents and an integrated bibliography for the whole thesis. The hard copy of
every thesis must be a printed or typed document in a standard form that can be easily
The thesis should be based on a single coherent research project, not on a series of unconnected projects. The following are examples of the possible content of the chapters and papers. One or more of the papers may be published, or submitted for publication, prior to the thesis defense; however, this is not required.
Introductory Chapter(s): Includes information on background, literature review, theoretical framework, research questions/hypotheses, and methods not discussed in adequate detail in the papers.
Papers I – III: Possible topics include a systematic review of the literature, methodological developments, research results, policy implications, knowledge transfer/translation activities
Final Chapter: Summarizes and synthesizes the information contained in the three papers as well as overall recommendations and discussion of limitations and future research.
The decision to do the three-paper option must be discussed with, and approved by, the thesis committee. When deciding whether to do a traditional thesis or the multiple paper option, the student and committee should consider whether peer reviewed publications or a book/monograph is the most appropriate method for disseminating the information contained in the thesis.
The student and thesis committee should discuss the expectations for each chapter and paper. A tentative outline of the chapter and paper contents should be agreed upon as soon as the key findings are known. The material in the thesis distributed for the final thesis defense must be the student’s original work but may be part of a collaborative project. The committee members may provide feedback on the various parts of the thesis, including the papers, as they would with a traditional thesis. Authorship of the papers should be negotiated between student, supervisor and
committee. For information on the determination of authorship, please see Intellectual Property Guidelines for Graduate Students and Supervisors at the University of Toronto.
Examples of the multiple-paper thesis are available in T-space, including the following:
Sarah Buchan: https://tspace.library.utoronto.ca/handle/1807/95641
Linda Kachuri: https://tspace.library.utoronto.ca/handle/1807/89802
Rachel Savage: https://tspace.library.utoronto.ca/handle/1807/95723
Travis Salway: https://tspace.library.utoronto.ca/handle/1807/82640
Social and Behavioural Health Sciences:
Christopher Buse: https://tspace.library.utoronto.ca/handle/1807/70912
Hannah Kia: https://tspace.library.utoronto.ca/handle/1807/96794
Renee Monchalin: https://tspace.library.utoronto.ca/handle/1807/97587
Sarah Elton: https://tspace.library.utoronto.ca/handle/1807/97445
Katherine Daignault: https://tspace.library.utoronto.ca/handle/1807/97389
SGS dissertation formatting requirements can be found here: