Instructions for pre-examiners (School of Arts, Design and Architecture)
- Two external pre-examiners are appointed by the Doctoral Programme Committee of the Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture for each doctoral thesis (proposal by the supervising professor).
- Pre-examiners will receive the manuscript in PDF form with instructions after they have been officially appointed.
- Their task is to determine whether the doctoral thesis is ready for public defence.
- They have 6 weeks to give their statements.
- The statement examines the manuscript against the requirements for a doctoral thesis. It can contain suggestions for corrections and improvements.
- Usually the manuscript will only be proofread after the changes possibly required by the pre-examiners have been done.
- Based on the statements the Doctoral Programme Committee decides on granting the permission for public defence. The statements are attached to the Committee's meeting minutes, which are public documents.
- After submitting the statement, the pre-examiner receives a fee for the pre-examination from the Department of the doctoral student.
Who qualifies as pre-examiner?
The pre-examiners must hold a doctor’s degree and possess sufficient scientific (and artistic, if necessary) competence and authority in the research field of the thesis and have a sufficient number of scientific publications. The pre-examiners are independent experts in the field, external to the school, and preferably also have gained expertise in the field of the thesis at the international level. It is possible to appoint a third pre-examiner on the basis of artistic merit only (without a doctor’s degree).
Requirement of impartiality: A pre-examiner cannot have had significant collaboration, such as co-authored publications with the student. Neither can a pre-examiner have had significant collaboration, such as co-authored publications with the advisor of the student, especially for previous five years.
A person who has pre-examined earlier one or several artistic parts of the doctoral thesis may also pre-examine the completed doctoral thesis.
Statement of the pre-examiner
- In your statement, you should summarize the most important results and merits of the doctoral thesis along with discovered shortcomings. The statement examines the manuscript against the requirements for a doctoral thesis (see below).
- A sufficient length for the statement is 2-3 pages, if revisions required are moderate.
- We ask you to submit a separate Pre-examiner's proposal form (see below) with your statement.
- The statements may contain suggestions for corrections and improvements, but should also explicitly indicate whether the pre-examiner recommends that the doctoral student be granted permission to defend the doctoral thesis in a public examination, or whether the student should be denied this permission.
- Pre-examiners may enclose a separate list of corrections with the statement, or return the manuscript with their written comments to the secretary of the Committee, who will forward it to the student. The supervising professor is responsible for ensuring that the corrections and changes required by the pre-examiners are addressed.
- If the changes or corrections required by the pre-examiner are minor, the supervising professor is responsible for ensuring that the doctoral student makes the required corrections and changes. Minor changes may include the need for additional material acquired with moderate effort or the need for further inclusion of research literature.
- If the changes or corrections required by either of the pre-examiners are substantial ('major revisions'), a second round of pre-examination is arranged after the doctoral student has made the required corrections and changes. Substantial changes and corrections may, in addition to those mentioned above, include revisions of research design and the development of the argument.
- Pre-examiners should indicate their willingness to participate in the possible second pre-examination round on the Pre-examiner's Proposal form. A separate fee is paid for the second round.
- The second pre-examination round can usually be arranged at the earliest 3 months after the first round and should be organised at the latest 12 months after it.
- If the manuscript has serious deficiencies with the quality of research and/or research integrity, the pre-examiner must propose that the permission for public defence is not granted.
- In case one or more pre-examiners propose that the permission is denied, the doctoral student has the right to stop the examination process. The stopping of the process means that the Doctoral Programme Committee will not handle the proposals of the pre-examiners, and the pre-examination process expires.
- If the process is stopped but the doctoral student wishes to continue to work on the doctoral thesis, she or he needs to negotiate with the supervising professor and submit a new research plan to the Doctoral Programme Committee. A doctoral thesis based on the new research plan can be submitted for pre-examination at the earliest 6 months after the new research plan has been accepted.
General quality requirements for doctoral theses at Aalto University
- A doctoral thesis shall contain new scientific knowledge in the field it represents.
- The doctoral thesis must present the new results clearly and in a manner meeting the criteria set for scientific texts.
- The independent contribution of the doctoral student shall be sufficient and clearly demonstrable.
- The research methods used shall fulfil the criteria set for scientific research.
- A doctoral thesis shall conform to the principles of responsible conduct of research and adhere to ethically sustainable principles.
Forms of doctoral doctoral theses at the School of Arts, Design and Architecture
Doctoral thesis at the School of Arts, Design and Architecture are monographs or article-based thesis.
An approved doctoral doctoral thesis may be a single study (a monograph), which has not been displayed in a published form in full before. A monograph forms a coherent entity and is the result of a researcher’s independent work. It may contain references to other publications made by the author dealing with the same problems.
Doctoral thesis can also be a so called article-based thesis which consists of a set of publications on a related set of problems, and a summary of the findings. The summary shall describe the research problem, research goals and methods, and presents a summary of the key findings. The summary shall assess the significance of the study for the discipline. The summary shall contain a list of the publications included in the thesis and describe the independent contribution of the student in each publication separately.
Article thesis must include at least 3 full-length articles. These articles must have been approved for publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal or similarly peer-reviewed conference publication or as a chapter in a peer-reviewed book. In addition to these three articles the doctoral thesis can include other publications, shorter articles or artistic parts. For one of these the publication process can still be on-going. For well-grounded reasons the Doctoral Programme Committee may approve also other kind of compilations of publications as a doctoral thesis.
The articles may also include co-authored publications if the author's independent contribution to them can be demonstrated. If the contribution is not demonstrated in the publication, the independent contribution and the other authors must be explained in the summary. The doctoral student must ask for the approval of the other authors for the explanation (but the approval does not need to be included in the manuscript).
Students who have started their studies earlier than 1.8.2022: The doctoral student must be the first author of at least one article.
Students who have started their studies from 1.8.2022 onwards: The doctoral student must be the first author of at least two articles.
In the field of art and design, a doctoral thesis can also include artistic component(s): an art production, a series of art productions meaningfully connected to each other, or a product development project. Both monographs and article-based thesis may include artistic component(s).
After consideration the School may approve as a doctoral thesis also other kind of works that fulfil the quality requirements of doctoral thesis.
Evaluation and grading of doctoral theses
After the manuscript has passed pre-examination, an opponent is appointed. A pre-examiner may be appointed as the opponent. The opponent will propose a grade for the doctoral thesis after the public defence. The following scale is used in the School of Arts, Design and Architecture: failed, pass, and pass with distinction. The Doctoral Progamme Committee decides on the approval or rejection of the doctoral thesis and its grade based on the proposal of the opponent.
Earning a pass with distinction requires that the doctoral thesis be among the top 20% of the doctoral thesiss published internationally in its field. The criteria include that:
- The doctoral doctoral thesis be written in clearly and with correct usage, and the referencing be faultless;
- The articles of an article-based doctoral thesis be published in international series of reputable standing in the field, or in similar peer-reviewed works;
- The author have made a significant independent contribution to the findings of the doctoral thesis;
- The findings be exceptionally significant for the research field;
- The doctoral thesis have particular scientific merit, and any included artistic components or product development projects meet particularly high artistic demands;
- The doctoral thesis be defended excellently at the public examination.