Doctoral education

Instructions for pre-examiners (School of Electrical Engineering)

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

General quality requirements for doctoral theses at Aalto University

  1. A doctoral thesis shall contain new scientific knowledge in the field it represents.
  2. The doctoral thesis must present the new results clearly and in a manner meeting the criteria set for scientific texts.
  3. The independent contribution to the research shall be sufficient and clearly demonstrable.
  4. The research methods used shall fulfil the criteria set for scientific research.
  5. A doctoral thesis shall conform to the principles of responsible conduct of research and adhere to ethically sustainable principles.

Forms of doctoral theses in the School of Electrical Engineering

An approved doctoral thesis may be:

  1. A monograph
  2. An article-based doctoral thesis


A monograph is a coherent writing based on the research work of the doctoral student and written by the student. The monograph

  • does not include a separate list of the author´s own publications, but if the student has publications, they can be referred to in the reference list together with the other references used.
  • describes the research problem, the research goals, the methods used, the results of the research and presents a summary of the key findings.
  • is recommended to not exceed 300 pages

Examination: Examining a monograph requires particular precision and carefulness, since the content is examined as something new, unlike in the case of an article-based thesis, where the articles have already undergone a scientific peer-review process.

Article-based doctoral thesis

An article-based thesis contains a sufficient number of publications on a related set of problems and a summary part (compiling part).

The articles in an article-based thesis:

  • are published, accepted for publication, or submitted for publication.
  • are published in acknowledged peer-reviewed international venues of the discipline (scientific journals, conference proceedings or other venues).
  • is recommended to be 3-5 publications (depending on the field). The number of articles required varies though, depending on the extent, scientific significance and quality of the publications, and the doctoral candidate’s personal contribution to them.
  • must contain new scientific findings, but also a literature review may be included.

The summary part of the article-based thesis:

  • is an independent entity, which provides an overview of the dissertation’s content.
  • describes the research problem, research goals and methods, and presents a summary of the key findings.
  • is recommended to be 30-60 pages long, starting from the introduction and including the references.
  • shall contain a list of the publications included in the thesis and describe the independent contribution of the doctoral student in each publication separately.

Examination: The examination is directed on the summary part and the articles as whole. In an article-based doctoral thesis, the published articles have already undergone peer review. Most of the attention is thus directed on the unpublished parts (the summary and the publications that are still in the submitted state)

Purpose of the pre-examination

The purpose of the pre-examination is to establish whether the doctoral thesis manuscript fulfils the general quality requirements of Aalto University and whether the thesis is ready to be published. Therefore, particular attention should be paid to the following aspects:

  1. Originality of the results and their significance to the field
  2. Scientific correctness and clarity
  3. Sufficiency of the candidate's contribution
  4. The English language

Pre-examination statement

The pre-examination time is 4 weeks, from the receipt of the official pre-examination request. Please deliver your statement within this time, so that the process can be completed within the time set by the regulations. The statement is addressed to the Doctoral Programme Committee and is sent by e-mail to Planning Officer Emma Holmlund.

In your statement, you should give a summation of the most important results and merits of the doctoral thesis along with discovered shortcomings. Please also give your opinion on the originality and significance of the results for the field, the scientific correctness and clarity, the sufficiency of the candidate’s contribution to the research, and the English language. Necessary corrections and suggestions for improvement are mentioned in the statement. If you wish, typos or minor stylistic corrections may be included in the statement or in a separate document (electronic version of the manuscript), submitted at the same time with the pre-examination statement. Please notice that all communication related to the manuscript and its evaluation needs to go through the professor Vesa Välimäki or planning officer Emma Holmlund.

In your statement, please also give the following information:

  • Name of the doctoral student
  • Title of the doctoral thesis manuscript
  • Your own name and title
  • Your affiliation
  • Date of the statement

Is the thesis ready to be published?

Please give your recommendation and select one of the following alternatives:

  • The manuscript can be published as is.
  • The manuscript can be published after minor revision: revision is to be made to the satisfaction of the supervisor.
  • Revision is needed before publication: revision is to be made to the satisfaction of the Doctoral Programme Committee after the supervisor’s review.
  • Major revision is needed: a revised manuscript and a report on corrections/changes/counterarguments must be sent back to the pre-examiner for re-examination.
  • The current thesis manuscript is not acceptable.

Propose a grade

In your pre-examination statement, you are also asked to give an overall evaluation of the doctoral thesis on the scale 0 (not acceptable) – 5 (excellent).

    0 not acceptable
    1 satisfactory
    2 very satisfactory
    3 good
    4 very good
    5 excellent

For proposing the grade, at least the four aspects above should be considered. You may also compare the thesis against the standard of the doctoral theses accepted in your own university.

Doctoral thesis award

In the School of Electrical Engineering about 10% of the doctoral thesis are awarded annually. If you consider the thesis to be of exceptionally high quality on international level and should be recommended for a doctoral thesis award, please indicate this in your statement.

Publishing the doctoral thesis

After receiving the statements, the decision on permission for public defence will be made by the Doctoral Programme Committee. Once permission for public defence has been granted, the thesis will be published already before the public defence:

  • Published:
  • Updated: