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university of tampere: faculty of communication sciences: doctoral studies: doctoral study guide: examination process:
Faculty of Communication SciencesUniversity of TampereFaculty of Communication Sciences

Dissertation Evaluation

After the defence proceedings, the opponents submit their written reports to LTL. An opponent's report must indicate whether the dissertation should be approved and propose the grade to be given. Before the dissertation is graded, the custos will present a written evaluation of how the defence proceedings went. The custos or the person who replaces the custos in the evaluation board will also submit the evaluation board's grade proposal to LTL. If a member of the evaluation board voices a divergent opinion, it must be stated in the grade proposal, which must be signed by the custos or the person replacing the custos and the external docent.

The reports of the opponents and the evaluation board must be submitted to the person responsible for doctoral affairs at LTL not later than one month after the defence proceedings were held. The LTL Board decides whether a doctoral dissertation will be approved and what grade it will receive. The supervisor of the dissertation does not participate in the evaluation of the dissertation in the LTL Board meeting. The opponents' reports and the evaluation board's grade proposal must be submitted to the doctoral candidate at least four days before the LTL Board meeting at which the dissertation will be discussed. If the candidate wishes to respond to the reports or the grade proposal, he/she may do so at this time. The candidate can also request that the grading of the dissertation be postponed to the next LTL Board meeting for this reason.

A request for reconsideration of the dissertation grade must be submitted to the LTL Board within 14 days of their announcement of the grade.

Evaluation Criteria

According to LTL's definition, a doctoral dissertation is a substantial scientific thesis based on independent research. It must produce new scientific knowledge and demonstrate critical thinking, a profound knowledge of the field and its methods, and the ability to apply these methods. Research must be scientifically respectable and adhere to the ethical norms concerning documentation, referencing, research frames and other studies. (See ‘Responsible Conduct of Research and Procedures for Handling Allegations of Misconduct in Finland’ by the Finnish Advisory Board on Research Integrity.)

The dissertation is evaluated on the basis of the following criteria:

The research topic, research problem and research questions

The topic should be scientifically significant, yet defined in enough detail; a dissertation should not be one's mission in life. The significance of the findings and conclusions should be evaluated on the basis of the extent to which the author introduces new ideas or insights, the way research questions have been approached and possibly answered, the quality of the author's findings, and possible advancements in the accuracy of the findings.

Taking previous research into account

The study must either be a relevant addition to a previous discussion or on a completely new topic. Previous studies must be taken into account, but they may not be repeated as such.

Conceptual clarity, definitions and theory

The author must define key concepts clearly and demonstrate a knowledge of literature in the field.


The author must present his/her methods and justify why just these methods have been chosen. The quality of the author's research must be considered: how carefully the research was conducted, what methods were used, how relevant and good these methods are, whether new methods were developed and, if so, how they were applied.


The data must be relevant and sufficient.

Findings and conclusions                       

The scientific significance of the findings and conclusions may not be exaggerated or downplayed. The analysis must be consistent and take different viewpoints into account. Interesting openings for further research and the social meaning of the research may also count to the author's credit


The dissertation has a logical structure and a clear linguistic form. The author may not allow a good idea to be buried under an information overload.

Critical attitude

The author must critically review previous research, theories, methods, data, sources and the scientific significance of his/her dissertation. In other words, a good dissertation must be original and independent.

Public defence

The evaluation board must also consider how well the doctoral candidate defended his/her dissertation at the defence proceedings.

Grading Scale

The grading scale for an accepted dissertation is, from the lowest grade to the highest: approbatur, lubenter approbatur, non sine laude approbatur, cum laude approbatur, magna cum laude approbatur, eximia cum laude approbatur, and laudatur.

Approbatur. The dissertation has severe deficiencies, but it fulfils LTL's basic criteria for a dissertation and follows the ethical norms of research. (See ‘Responsible Conduct of Research and Procedures for Handling Allegations of Misconduct in Finland’ by the Finnish Advisory Board on Research Integrity.)

Lubenter approbatur. In relation to the evaluation criteria, the dissertation has several significant deficiencies without adequate compensative merits.

Non sine laude approbatur. In relation to the evaluation criteria, the dissertation has some significant deficiencies without adequate compensative merits.

Cum laude approbatur. The dissertation is good. The language and the concepts are well-defined; the research problem, methods and results are well justified and based on relevant data. The special merits of the dissertation compensate for any deficiencies.

Magna cum laude approbatur. In relation to the evaluation criteria, the dissertation has clear merits without invalidating deficiencies.

Eximia cum laude approbatur. In relation to the evaluation criteria, the dissertation has several significant merits without invalidating deficiencies.

Laudatur. The theme of the dissertation is ambitious, and the work is especially distinctive, independent and original in relation to all essential evaluation criteria.

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Last update: 27.6.2016 11.55 Muokkaa

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