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university of tampere: faculty of social sciences: doctoral studies: doctor's degree:
Faculty of Social SciencesUniversity of TampereFaculty of Social Sciences

Preliminary Examination and Permission for a Public Defence

Preliminary Examination  |  The Statements  |  Permission for a Public Defence  |  The Custos, the Opponent(s) and the Evaluation Board

Preliminary Examination  

The Rector of the University of Tampere has decided that the authenticity of doctoral dissertations and Licentiate’s theses submitted for preliminary examination must be checked using the Turnitin originality check software which tracks the theses for plagiarism. The student feeds her/his thesis into the system, and the first supervisor of the thesis reads the report of authenticity produced by the programme. After the first supervisor has given her/his written approval, the thesis can be submitted for the examination. Instructions.

In order to obtain the permission for a public defence of the dissertation, the manuscript of the dissertation must be handed in to the School Office in three complete paper copies, filed or bound. Please see the practical information concerning dissertation process here.

Before submitting his/her manuscript, the student should ensure that the supervisor considers the dissertation to be ready for examination. As a general rule, the first supervisor makes the proposal for the preliminary examiners of the manuscript.

Questions concerning the schedule of submitting the manuscript are answered by the School Office.

When submitting the manuscript, the student has to present the accepted study plan and a transcript of the academic record, which includes all the postgraduate studies pursued and an overall grade of the studies or a copy of a certificate concerning Licentiate’s degree. An application form for the degree certificate must be handed in alongside the manuscript.

The Dean appoints at least two preliminary examiners for the dissertation. The examiners must have the qualifications of a docent at the very least. The examiners must neither come from the School of Social Sciences and Humanities nor, as a general rule, from the University of Tampere. A docent of the School of Social Sciences and Humanities who has not supervised the dissertation and who does not work at the School can be appointed as the examiner. In exceptional cases, if the expertise for assessing the dissertation cannot be found anywhere else, the other preliminary examiner can be an employee of some other School at the University of Tampere. As a general rule, one of the examiners must be an active member of the academic community in Finland.

Before the preliminary examiners are selected, the author of the dissertation is provided with the opportunity to comment on the potential unacceptability of the prospective preliminary examiners if doubts of being biased exist.

Preliminary examiners are requested to give a statement on whether or not the manuscript has such scientific value that a permission for a public defence may be granted. In the statement, only a proposal of either granting or denying the permission may be put forward, but not a conditional decision. If the dissertation comprises of several publications together with a summary, the statement of the preliminary examiners is required to indicate whether the themes of the separate publications comprise an integrated set of problems.

A joint statement of the examiners is accepted only in very special cases.

The Examiners' Statements

The preliminary examiners are asked to assess, if applicable, the following matters in their statement(s)

*The general nature of the doctoral thesis: A short description of the scientific content and the most important findings of the dissertation.

* Topic and research questions: Scientific value, originality, topicality.

* Previous research on the subject: Does the doctoral candidate have a critical understanding of the literature on the subject area and the ability to analyse the strengths and weaknesses of previous studies.

* Data: Quality, scope and suitability of the data for answering the research question.

* Methods: Reliability, suitability, originality and the level of difficulty of the chosen methods.

* Results and conclusions: Realistic assessment of the results and conclusions: their reliability, novelty value and scientific importance. The logic and breadth of the analysis. Possible openings to further research, the social significance of the study.

* Structure and presentation: Is the structure good, are different parts of the manuscript balanced. Are the style, language and typography polished and appropriate for a doctoral thesis.

The examiners ought to propose on either granting or denying the permission for public defence in their well-grounded statements. A statement concerning a dissertation that is based on articles should include an assessment of both the summary and the published articles as well as the whole entity of the dissertation formed of its parts.

The decision must not be conditional. The examiners can also give minor proposals to the student for revising the manuscript, but not such corrections which would be a condition for granting the permission for a public defence. The statements should be delivered to the School Office in twelve (12) weeks after the date on which the Dean appointed the examiners. The recommended length of the statement is three to five pages.

When the examiner suggests for denying the permission for a public defence, the process can be terminated upon request of the student. An official Dean’s decision is made concerning the termination. A new examination process can be started with the supervisor’s permission.

If amendments during the preliminary examination process are made, the amended version must be delivered immediately to the School Office. The School Office must also be informed immediately if the title of the dissertation is changed.


Permission for the Public Defence

The statements of the preliminary examiners are sent to the doctoral candidate 14 days prior (in exceptional cases 5 days prior at the latest) to the Management Board meeting. The postgraduate committee gives its view on the matter before the Management Board meeting. The student may write a reply on the statements.  For this purpose, the student may request for the decision on the public defence to be postponed to the Management Board's next meeting.

The Custos, Opponent(s) and the Evaluation Board

When permission for the public defence has been granted, the Management Board appoints a Custos (chairman) and at least one opponent for the public defence of the dissertation. The Custos must be qualified at least as a docent and employed by the School of Social Sciences and Humanities. The opponent must come from the outside of the School of Social Sciences and Humanities, and only exceptionally from the University of Tampere. It is also recommended that the opponent is none of the preliminary examiners. The qualifications of the opponent should be at the level of a docent at least. Before the appointments, the author of the dissertation is provided with the opportunity to comment on the potential unacceptability of the prospective opponent/s.

At the same time, the Management Board appoints the members of the Evaluation Board for assessing the dissertation. The Evaluation Board proposes a grade for the dissertation for the Management Board of the School. A professor or a docent representing some other discipline of the School than the discipline of the dissertation is appointed as a chair of the Evaluation Board. In addition to the chair, the members of the evaluation board include examiners and opponent(s).

After the public defence, the chair invites the other members of the Evaluation Board to a meeting, introduces the Shool's grading scale to them, leads and participates in the discussion concerning the grade and reports the proposal for the grade on behalf of the Evaluation Board to the School Management Board. Before the chair is appointed, the candidate is provided with the opportunity to comment on the potential unacceptability of the prospective chair. It is recommended that all the members of the Evaluation Board who reside in Finland participate in the public defence and in the meeting of the Evaluation Board. When necessary, the members of the Evaluation Board can be contacted by other means.


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Last update: 22.6.2016 12.18 Muokkaa

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