Doctoral education

Instructions for opponents (School of Science)

Guidelines for opponents of public examinations of doctoral theses in the School of Science

An approved doctoral thesis may be

  1. Monograph
  2. Article-based doctoral thesis
  3. Essay-based doctoral thesis
  4. Other work which meets corresponding scientific criteria

Evaluation of the doctoral thesis

Examination of the thesis has started with pre-examination of the thesis: two independent pre-examiners have given their statements of the thesis. Based on these statements, the permission for public defence has been granted either directly or after some minor or major corrections.

Finally the thesis is examined at a public examination/defence. When examining the doctoral thesis, the opponent shall take into account the thesis in itself as well as merits shown by the candidate in the public defence. On the basis of both of these, the opponent will propose whether the thesis should be accepted or failed. A demand for failing the thesis must be made in writing and reasons must be given.

When examining a doctoral thesis, the opponent may compare it against the standard of the theses accepted in his/her own university. A demand of failing the thesis must be made in writing and reasons must be given.

General quality requirements set for theses

The opponent is to see in his/her statement of 1-2 pages whether the thesis fulfills the general quality requirements set for theses giving particular attention to the general quality requirements for theses at Aalto University:

  • A thesis must contain new scientific findings in its area of research.
  • Research methods and new research findings are to be presented clearly and they should  withstand the scrutiny appropriate for scientific research.
  • The candidate’s own contribution to the research shall be sufficient and clearly stated.
  • A thesis must follow good scientific practice and ethically sustainable principles.

Evaluation of the thesis

The theses at the Aalto University, School of Science are evaluated only as pass or fail.
Opponent is asked to propose the acceptance of the thesis in his/her statement. If the thesis is of particular scientific merit, particularly significant amongst its research field and has outstanding international significance, the opponent should propose it to be awarded with the annual thesis award. In this case the thesis should be among the top 10 % of its field.

If the thesis is recommended for thesis award it requires that:

  • the thesis has particular scientific merits
  • the results are exceptionally significant in the research field
  • the articles in a compound thesis have been published in international scientific series of high standard, or in exceptional cases in other equivalent publications subject to peer re-viewed
  • the student has a significant independent contribution in obtaining the results
  • the manner of representation is clear and the language and reference practice used are first-rate
  • the thesis has been defended excellently in the public examination.

Statement of the opponent

The opponent(s) is (are) requested to give a 1-2 pages written statement to the school concerning the thesis and its defence as soon as possible but no later than two weeks after the public defence. The final acceptance of the thesis is decided by the Doctoral Programme Committee of the School of Science based on the statements by the pre-examiners and opponent(s).

A small remuneration will be paid to the opponent after the public defence is held. The University also covers the travel and accommodation costs as a result of acting as the opponent. The departments of the School of Science will take care of these.

Proceedings at the public examination

Read more about the proceedings at the public examination.

Approved by the Doctoral Programme Committee of the School of Science August 23, 2011. Last update on September 18, 2018.

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