Doctoral dissertation definition
A doctoral dissertation is a consistent scholarly work based on independent research that makes an original contribution to knowledge (definition approved by the Faculty Council on 7 February 1995). Besides being in the form of a monograph, the dissertation may also be a compilation of several separate scholarly articles (see below). The manuscript submitted for preliminary examination must be written in the same language as the final version of the dissertation.
Examination process and preliminary examiner’s role
The examination of doctoral dissertations is a two-stage process: first, dissertations are examined in a preliminary examination, and then, in a public examination.
After the public examination, the Faculty Council approves and grades, or rejects, the dissertation based on the documents compiled during the examination process and on its expertise. The members of the Faculty Council have access to the preliminary manuscript (preliminary examination) and the dissertation (final approval and grading or rejection) before they make their decision.
The preliminary examiners have great responsibility in ensuring that incomplete dissertations are not allowed to go forward to public examination. It is highly problematic in terms of students’ legal rights if it is not discovered until the public examination that the dissertation does not meet the minimum requirements set for dissertations.
The Faculty Council appoints at least two preliminary examiners as well as an internal (Faculty) examiner who oversees the entire process from preliminary examination to public examination.
The preliminary examiners are expected to provide a reasoned written statement in which they explicitly recommend either that the doctoral candidate be granted permission to defend the dissertation in a public examination or that the candidate be denied this permission. In other words, the duty of the preliminary examiners is to assess whether the manuscript fulfils the minimum requirements for a doctoral dissertation in its present state or after minor revisions. The recommendation must not be conditional, meaning that the examiner must not recommend granting the permission for a public defence after certain corrections have been made.
- Choice of topic, research problem, refining of research task and research questions: The topic should have significant information value. The research task should be appropriately refined. The Faculty recommends that a monograph be no more than about 250 pages long, excluding appendices.
- Acknowledgement of previous research: The work must serve as an appropriate continuation of previous debate or introduce a completely new initiative. Previous research must thus be acknowledged, but not repeated as such.
- Conceptual clarity, definitions and theoretical knowledge: The reader must be able to fathom what the research is about.
- Methods: The methods used must be presented and justified.
- Material: The material must be qualitatively relevant and quantitatively sufficient.
- Results and conclusions: The scientific significance of the results and conclusions should be neither exaggerated nor underestimated. The analysis must be logical and include different points of view. Interesting prospects for follow-up research can be considered as a merit, as can the social relevance of the research.
- Format: The structure of the dissertation must be logical and the language clear. The basic idea must not be overwhelmed by a mass of information.
- Critical attitude: The writer should demonstrate a critical attitude towards previous research, theories, methods, material, sources and the scientific significance of his or her own work. In other words, good research is original and independent.