I wonder if my head of the program/dean (1 man) actually reads 10 theses of approximately 10,000 words each, when there are only 2 months to graduate.

And does he actually check every reference as, for example, "this paragraph does not belong to the reference [3]." In other words, does he read all the references, for example, page 260-270 of the book referred as the source?

As I check, the library of my university does not have such books. So does the university support him to buy those books or he has to spend his money on them, and what is the possibility he will spend his own money on it?

  • 4
    PhD students would consider themselves lucky if anyone on their committee besides their advisor read their dissertation; so no. They definitely aren't checking references (although why are you asking??). Mar 25, 2021 at 16:06
  • 6
    Your thesis should cite the literature correctly, regardless of whether you expect someone to carefully check that you did.
    – Bryan Krause
    Mar 25, 2021 at 16:23
  • 8
    Azor Ahai is right, they won't check every dot and comma. But they'll be better than you at knowing what they need to check to see if the thesis is good. Best to do it right rather than try to beat the system!
    – Rdd
    Mar 25, 2021 at 16:23
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    Students always think we won't pick out errors. Tell you a secret: we do. Someone once made a particular statement (verbally) without saying that this was a citation. I told him straight out (without looking up) where he read it. He was duly impressed. No, it was not an obvious source and I may have been lucky. Of course, once you get a reputation, students become more careful... Mar 25, 2021 at 16:44
  • 14
    @Jake, this kind of game-playing is not a good way to think about research and scholarship. It will corrupt your thinking. Mar 25, 2021 at 17:06

4 Answers 4


Realistically, it's unlikely he reads all 10 theses cover-to-cover. But who knows, perhaps it's an element of the job he really enjoys, and prioritizes it.

You should write your thesis as if all parts of it will be read closely. It is impossible for anyone to tell you what sections to focus on for this reader. He could be a big methods guy, or he could decide he doesn't understand your methods in the slightest and focus on the discussion (for example).

I think the comment from Rdd is apt:

But they'll be better than you at knowing what they need to check to see if the thesis is good. Best to do it right rather than try to beat the system!

All your citations should be correct, but no, it's not really his job (at that level) to make sure you are citing correctly. Putting Smith and Jones (2011) when you meant Smith and Jones (2012) will not get you expelled.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. Please read this FAQ before posting another comment and recall that we can only move comments to chat once. Mar 25, 2021 at 21:18

No, your dean does not read every thesis or check every reference. And this is true more broadly: when you go out into the workforce, you will find that no one will check every last detail of the work that you do. Reports, emails, software code, legal briefs, engineering analyses, the work a plumber does on your house, the work your dean does — all of these are done by people who know that no one will check everything they do, certainly not right away and in some cases not for a very long time, if ever. And yet, successful professionals and in some cases even just average tradespeople still deliver astonishingly error-free work products. Errors do occur sometimes, of course, but they are surprisingly rare if viewed from the premise you seem to be assuming.

I won’t get into an extended discussion of how the world manages to operate this way, but I do think it’s related to why bachelor theses can be correct without your dean needing to read them. It’s related to the fact that the motivation of the students writing the theses, like the motivation of most people doing work that they are good at and take some amount of pride in, isn’t to cheat or to “get away” with as much sloppiness and as little work as possible. Something to think about.


For a period of about 10 years, I gave a popular course on introductory crypto, with the relevant math rolled into it. I did also try to be progressive in what I asked students to do... and one feature, to get "buy-in", was to do semester projects of 10-20 pages (topics of the student's choice, with my approval). The enrollment was typically 130+, so the resulting stack of projects was a foot or two high. Yes, I read everything. Yes, I'm a fast reader, and, yes, having considerable familiarity with most of the background I could zoom through "the usual" stuff.

But, yes, I read them, and made comments. It seemed to me that it was "a good thing" to promise students that their work would be looked at carefully.

EDIT: (thanks @AzorAhai) I mean "cryptography and cryptanalysis", not cryptocurrency... Though, yes, some of the methods of cryptography and cryptanalysis are used nowadays in cryptocurrency stuff, and are useful in understanding it. Cryptocurrency was not apparently significant in 1995...

  • Then it's really confusing since to some people, for example you, it might be the widely known information but to others, it's expert information which needs a reference. How do I know about what my professor knows and doesn't know?
    – Jake
    Mar 25, 2021 at 17:19
  • @Jake Let the papers you read be your guide.
    – Bryan Krause
    Mar 25, 2021 at 17:26
  • I am not sure what do you mean. To be honest, some information I read from somewhere I forgot where and it's in my head when I write it down. For example, "black hole drags everything toward it". This is not my research for sure but I know it via the internet and don't remember the source. So how do I mark reference for things like that
    – Jake
    Mar 25, 2021 at 17:31
  • Haha - Bitcoin was released in 2009! It could have been a ten-year period ending a year ago Mar 25, 2021 at 23:41
  • @Jake You can see how other (more recent) papers cite the fact to trace back to its source.
    – GoodDeeds
    Mar 26, 2021 at 14:53

I feel the motivation towards this question is not right. Especially with the OP quoting:

"If I insist this statement is from me and my experience. Nothing you can do to prove that this is a plagiarism."

If one wants to construct an undergrad thesis (which from my experience isn't mandatory in any college and only taken up by choice), they should do so with complete diligence. It shouldn't matter who sees what and who reads what. The thesis will be covering a good portion of your degree and by no means should you cut short the process.

In the off chance someone really does take up their time and go through your entire work only to find out few cites and statements are wrong is a complete waste of that person's time. This isn't a long answer question where the importance is given to certain part of the answer.

You should dedicate good time and make sure your entire report and research is without any flaw (as much as possible from your end).

  • 4
    I agree with you but want to point out that the prevalence of undergrad theses is strongly location dependent. In quite a few European countries for example they are an integral part of the degree and you cannot graduate without having written one.
    – mlk
    Mar 25, 2021 at 18:00
  • 1
    Even in my alma mater, some degrees had theses, and others were optional Mar 25, 2021 at 18:04
  • Oh okay, I feel I don't need to edit out that part now that someone can read your comment. Hope that is fine.
    – Academic
    Mar 25, 2021 at 18:21
  • In Germany, (AFAIK) all bachelor degrees (except Art and design, they offen have equivalent final projects) have a mandatory thesis.
    – Sursula
    Aug 17, 2021 at 6:48

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