Doctoral education

Instructions for pre-examiners (School of Chemical Engineering)

Guidelines for pre-examiners of doctoral theses in the School of Chemical Engineering

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.

Content and style of doctoral thesis

  • Article-based doctoral thesis

An article-based doctoral thesis should consist of a summary part and the publications that the thesis is based on. The summary part should paraphrase the individual publications, creating a coherent whole and placing the publications in the broader context and should not repeat the full content of the publications.

  • Monograph

In a monograph the research results are fully described and placed in context, but there is no requirement for the results to have to been published separately.

Purpose of the preliminary examination

The purpose of the pre-examination is to determine whether the manuscript fulfills the general quality requirements of a doctoral dissertation (AAC 1 December 2015). Therefore, particular attention should be paid to the following aspects:

  1.  The dissertation must contain new scientific findings in its area of research.
  2. The methods, experimental set-ups, measurements, and the data presented in the  dissertation should withstand scrutiny appropriate to scientific research.
  3.  The doctoral candidate should present his/her achievements and assertions clearly and scientifically.

The Doctoral programme committee can decline to submit the manuscript for preliminary examination if it finds that the manuscript has major flaws and/or it fails to meet the general formal requirements set for the doctoral thesis of the university.

Permission for the public defence is granted based on the statements of preliminary examiners. 

Eligibility requirements for pre-examiners

Who can act as a pre-examiner or opponent?

The pre-examiners and opponents are to present their own, independent and impartial evaluation of the dissertation and thus they cannot:

  • have co-authored research papers with the doctoral candidate or supervising professor or thesis instructor or collaborated with in research in the past three years
  • have a too close relation to the author of the dissertation, its supervising professor or thesis advisor
  • be a close relative of the candidate
  • be the candidate's immediate superior.

Things to notice when appointing pre-examiners and opponent(s)

  • the doctoral candidate shall not take part in selecting the preliminary examiners and opponents
  • the doctoral candidate has a right to make a remark on the suggested examiners.
  • the supervising professor may ask the thesis advisor for suggestions for preliminary examiners and opponent(s)
  • before the examiners are recommended to the Doctoral Programme Committee, the supervising professor is advised to contact the examiners and check that they are willing to examine the dissertation within the given time.
  • the Doctoral Programme Committee appoints the pre-examiners and the opponent(s)
  • the doctoral candidate can stop the pre-examination process with a written request. After terminating the process once, the next pre-examination can be only started after revision of the manuscript.

Pre-examination statement

Pre-examination process starts with the decision of the Doctoral programme committee. Secretary of the committee will submit the instructions and the thesis manuscript to the pre-examiners. The pre-examiners send their statements together with the grading tables to the Doctoral Programme Committee within 4-5 weeks. 

Once the statements of the pre-examiners have arrived, the Committee's secretary sends them to the doctoral candidate and the supervising professor. The doctoral candidate must make an official reply, i.e. answer to the suggestions and comments and show the corrections based on the pre-examination statements.

The pre-examiner should approach an article dissertation as a whole, regardless of the fact that the separate articles may have already been published in refereed series. The pre-examiner should pay special attention to any submitted article(s), which has/have not yet been accepted for publication. The same rule also applies to Open Access publications, such as PloS One, as their evaluation process differs from the classical scientific peer-review system.

Permission for public defence

The doctoral student is responsible for ensuring that appropriate permissions are obtained for all copyright images, tables and other data included in the published thesis. Same applies to articles included to article-based thesis.

Statements from the pre-examiners and correction report

Once the statements of the pre-examiners have arrived, the Committee's secretary sends them to the doctoral student and the supervising professor. 

More information about getting permission for public defence

Guidelines for pre-examiners

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