Doctoral education

Instructions for pre-examiners (School of Engineering)

Guidelines for pre-examiners of doctoral theses in the School of 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.

Doctoral thesis at the School of Engineering

A doctoral thesis must contain new scientific findings. An approved doctoral doctoral thesis may be:

  1. A single study, i.e. a monograph that is thoroughly examined.
  2. An article doctoral thesis: the examination is directed at the summary part and the aggregate of the doctoral thesis since the articles have already undergone peer review.
  3. Some other work that meets corresponding scientific criteria.

The articles included in the doctoral doctoral thesis are published or submitted for publication in an high level acknowledged peer-reviewed forum in the discipline (for example a scientific publication series, conference proceedings or other work). Articles not yet accepted for publication can also be included in the doctoral doctoral thesis. The pre-examiners will conduct a peer review for the doctoral thesis for the permission to publish; The examination is thus directed with particular precision and carefulness on the unpublished manuscript and on the summary.

The manuscript of the doctoral thesis submitted for pre-examination must be complete and its language must be faultless.

Tasks of a pre-examiner

The purpose of the pre-examination is to establish whether the manuscript fulfils general quality requirements. Therefore, particular attention should be paid to the following aspects:

  1. A doctoral thesis must contain new scientific findings in its area of research.
  2. Methods, experimental setups, measurements, and the data presented in a doctoral thesis should withstand the scrutiny appropriate for scientific research.
  3. The author is to present his/her achievements and assertions clearly and scientifically.

In his/her final statement on a doctoral thesis manuscript, the pre-examiner should estimate whether the candidate's contribution to the doctoral thesis has been sufficient. The pre-examiner should approach an article doctoral thesis as a whole, regardless of the fact that the separate articles have already been accepted for publication in refereed series. It is required that an article doctoral thesis, examined as a whole, fulfils the scientific requirements of a scientific doctoral thesis. When examining a doctoral thesis manuscript, the pre-examiner may compare it against the standard of the doctoral thesis accepted in his/her own university.

If necessary, a pre-examiner may discuss the thesis with the doctoral student or with the supervising professor in order to confirm arguments, aspects or data presented in the thesis. Owing to the time limit imposed on the pre-examination, the examiner should not embark on an actual supervision of the research by the doctoral student. The pre-examination statement shall concern the original manuscript submitted to examination and not a possible later revised version. In his/her final statement, a pre-examiner may propose additions, corrections, and deletions to the thesis (monograph) or to the compendium part of the thesis (article doctoral thesis). Towards the close of his/her statement, a pre-examiner should clearly state a judgement on whether permission to publish the doctoral thesis should be granted. The pre-examiners shall submit their statements directly to the Doctoral Programme Committee. Only minor stylistic corrections may be submitted directly to the doctoral student, but these suggested corrections should be noted in the statement.

After the Doctoral Programme Committee has received the pre-examination statements, it may, at its discretion, request from the doctoral student a response to the pre-examiners' comments and a list of corrections made accordingly, confirmed by the supervising professor. The Committee may also decide to send the revised manuscript for additional review to the pre-examiners.

A pre-examiner is requested to present his/her statement within four weeks from the initial receipt of the official request, so that the examination process of the doctoral thesis can be completed within the time set by the regulations of the School of Engineering. A few days before the deadline the Doctoral Programme Committee will send a reminder for the examiners.

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