Information for the adjudication committee
The PhD examination consists of an assessment of the doctoral thesis, an assessment of the trial lecture and an assessment of the public defence. For a doctoral candidate to be awarded a doctorate, the committee must find all of the components satisfactory.
Here you will find information concerning adjudication of theses at the Faculty, including regulations for the PhD degree, guidelines and helpful advice otherwise. We will also inform you about the coordinator’s role, trial lecture and public defence and about payment of fees and travel expenses.
2.1 Trial lecture
2.2 Public defence
3. PhD dinner
Guidelines for adjudication at the Faculty
Communication with the adjudication committee - deadlines
The Faculty appoints the adjudication committee and sends information to the committee about deadlines and possible outcomes of the adjudication. Important deadlines to remember are as follows:
- The recommendation must be submitted within three months of the committee receiving the thesis.
- The recommendation must be ready at least five weeks before the public defence. The public defence will be delayed if the deadline is not met.
- The date of the trial lecture and public defence will be agreed as soon as the committee is appointed. The committee must inform the faculty of any delays in the recommendation process. The committee must not contact the candidate directly. All contact must be through the faculty’s administration.
The Faculty will provide the adjudication committee with information about its work, including a cover letter, UiO’s Guidelines for the evaluation of Norwegian doctoral degrees, along with the candidate's thesis, the adjudication contract, Regulations for the degree of Philosophiae Doctor (PhD) at the University of Oslo,UiO’s information on the coordinator's role and a form for travel expenses etc.
The guidelines and regulations specify what aspects should be emphasized in the adjudication of the thesis. The guidelines also give details of the requirements for theses made up of a number of shorter works (articles) as follows:
…assess and document whether the content of these articles forms a whole. In such cases, the candidate must in a separate part of the thesis not only summarize but also compare the research questions and conclusions presented in the individual works in an overarching perspective, thereby documenting the coherence of the thesis. This part of the thesis (extended abstract) is therefore crucial to the committee’s assessment. The Faculty has developed its own guidelines for the extended abstract.
If the individual works do not contain a discussion of key concepts or methods in the thesis as a whole, the comparison must also include such elements.
The faculty will pay travel expenses as they arise if the committee deems it necessary to meet in order to discuss the recommendation.
Adjudication procedures at the faculty differ for the PhD and Dr. Philos. degrees. The different procedures are set out below.
1.1.1 The committee’s assessment and conclusion of the PhD degree
The following applies to the PhD degree:
After submission of the thesis, the adjudication committee may, as part of its assessment, provide the faculty with a written recommendation for specific points in the thesis to be revised, ref. section 14.2 of the regulations - Revision of a submitted thesis. If the adjudication committee recommends a revision, the recommendation must propose a time frame (up to 6 months) for revisions, and specify in a separate document what elements of the thesis have to be/should be improved or corrected (e.g. use of methods, the relationship between the material and the conclusion, use of concepts, clarity of research questions, table adjustments etc.) in order to bring it up to the required standard.
The Dean at the faculty approves or rejects the committee’s recommendation. This approval or rejection is then forwarded to the committee and candidate, and a copy is sent to the supervisors. If the Dean does not approve the recommended revision, the matter is returned to the committee, which must then make its recommendation. The candidate has no right of appeal against the Dean's decision to allow or disallow a revision in accordance with section 14.2.
If the Dean approves a revision before a recommendation is presented, the candidate is given a deadline to incorporate these changes into the final thesis based on the adjudication committee's revision proposals. The deadline can be up to 6 months, ref. section 14.2. The faculty does not normally permit any extension to this deadline. In the event of illness, see the faculty’s Supplementary Regulations in UiO’s regulations for organized research training and the faculty’s programme plan.
The committee then makes a new assessment of whether the revised thesis is worthy of defence for the PhD degree. Responding to the committee's proposed changes and submitting a revised thesis by the deadline does not give automatic approval of the thesis. The committee assesses the revised version of the thesis on an independent basis. After submitting the revised version, the adjudication committee will be given a new deadline for its recommendation. This deadline will not normally exceed three months after the committee members have received the revised thesis. Section 14.2 of the regulations only applies to the first submission of a doctoral thesis. When the committee has given its recommendation, the faculty will either uphold or reject this. The committee then has two options:
- To recommend as worthy of public defence (accept)
- To recommend as not worthy of public defence (reject)
1.1.2 – The committee’s assessment and conclusion for the Dr. Philos. degree
The following applies to the Dr. Philos. degree:
The committee will explicitly give one of three conclusions, ref. Guidelines for the Evaluation of Norwegian Doctoral Degrees.
- Worthy of public defence (accept)
- Not worthy of public defence in its present form
- Not worthy of public defence (reject)
The Faculty will also inform the candidate that consideration is being given to changing the form of assessment for the Dr. Philos. degree.
For both degrees
When the adjudication Committee has finished its assessment of the thesis, the recommendation is signed by all of the committee members and sent directly to the faculty. The faculty starts finalizing the thesis adjudication process by obtaining the coordinator's signature, and the final recommendation is then signed by the entire committee.
The faculty sends a copy of the recommendation to the candidate and the supervisor, if applicable. In the cover letter the candidate is given a deadline of approximately two weeks from receipt of the recommendation to submit comments.
Bedømmelsesprosedyrer er ved fakultetet ulik for gradene ph.d. og dr.philos. Nedenfor følger nærmere informasjon om de ulike prosedyrene.
In accordance with the regulations, the procedures differ for the various possible conclusions, as explained below.
Procedure for unanimously positive recommendation
See the regulations for current doctoral degrees and paragraph 3 of Guidelines for the Evaluation of Norwegian Doctoral Degrees. If the adjudication committee’s recommendation is unanimously positive, the Dean has the authority to approve this decision. The Dean may, however, in special circumstances, opt to forward the recommendation to the Faculty Board. The procedure is described in the regulations for the relevant degree.
When the Dean has endorsed the recommendation, the faculty notifies the candidate, department and members of the committee.
Procedure for split recommendation
A split recommendation can have two possible outcomes; a) split but positive majority recommendation, and b) split but negative majority recommendation. If the recommendation is split, the matter is forwarded to the Faculty Board for final review. The procedure is described in the regulations and in the said guidelines, part 3. In general, if there is dissent in the committee, an executive committee or the Faculty Board may make a majority decision to endorse the committee's majority recommendation. If the candidate has made comments on the recommendation and these may affect whether the thesis is approved, these will be submitted to the adjudication committee before the faculty reaches a formal decision on the matter. The committee’s response to the candidate's comments is taken into consideration by the Board. The candidate's comments at this stage of the process do not take the form of a formal appeal. An appeal can only be lodged after a final decision has been reached.
Rejected theses may be appealed through the standard appeals procedure, and pursuant to the Public Administration Act.
Procedure for unanimously negative recommendation (note that the procedure differs for PhD and Dr. Philos. degrees)
For the PhD degree
If the adjudication committee recommends rejection of the thesis, this must be expressed explicitly. The committee must also in this case recommend that the thesis is not worthy of public defence (reject). For resubmission of a thesis that is rejected as described, a new committee is normally appointed.
For the Dr. Philos. degree
If the adjudication committee recommends rejection, it must explicitly state which of the two forms of rejection it recommends: a) whether the thesis is deemed not worthy of defence in its present form, or b) if the thesis is not deemed worthy of defence.
In cases where a thesis that is rejected ‘in its present form’ is submitted a second time for assessment, the original adjudication committee is normally appointed unless special circumstances dictate otherwise. Upon resubmission of a thesis under b) above, a new committee is normally appointed.
Review of the candidate’s comments
If the expert committee's conclusion is negative or split, the candidate may provide comments on the recommendation before review by the faculty. These comments do not constitute a formal appeal. An appeal can only be lodged after a final decision has been reached. The comments will nevertheless be forwarded to the committee. The faculty normally asks that the committee responds to the comments in order to provide a complete basis for a decision. The committee should respond as quickly as possible.
For both degrees
Rejected theses may be appealed through the standard appeals procedure, and pursuant to the Public Administration Act.
A rejected thesis cannot be submitted for a new assessment more than once. Candidates must also wait six months to resubmit from the date of the final decision.
The faculty’s decision on the recommendation is forwarded to the candidate, department and adjudication committee together with the necessary information relating to the decision.
Public defence of the thesis normally takes place within two months of the faculty finding the thesis worthy of defence. Because the trial lecture and public defence are part of the doctoral examination, the entire committee is expected to remain present throughout the entire process.
Adjudication committee’s duties up to the trial lecture and public defence
The adjudication committee chooses the topic of the trial lecture. This topic should not be derived from the central research questions in the candidate's doctoral work; the lecture should not be a summary of parts of the thesis.
The committee notifies the faculty of the topic of the trial lecture at least three weeks in advance. The faculty notifies the candidate of the chosen topic within the relevant timeframe. The purpose of the trial lecture is for the candidate to demonstrate his/her ability to disseminate research-based knowledge.
The adjudication committee allocates the opponent roles; the first and second opponent during the public defence. Internal members of the adjudication committee are not normally opponents. The committee’s coordinator, in consultation with the other committee members, clarifies who will be the first and second opponent.
The first opponent briefly introduces the candidate's work, the purpose and results of the scientific investigation, and explains the broader scholarly context of the thesis before speaking about the specific points of discussion and argument in the thesis to be defended by the candidate.
In the event that an opponent is unable to attend the public defence (due to acute serious illness or similar), the committee coordinator must contact the department and step in as a deputy opponent at short notice. The second opponent is then promoted to first opponent, and the committee coordinator takes the role of second opponent.
The regulations briefly describe the duties of the first and second opponent (ref. section 18.2 of the revised regulations of 2010). See also the Procedure for trial lecture and public defence.
Interaction between chair of public defence and coordinator before the public defence
Since the coordinator is normally the committee member with the greatest local knowledge, he or she is responsible for informing the two opponents of customary practice at the faculty’s public defences. This includes everything from the form of the defence to what a Norwegian PhD dinner entails. The committee coordinator also ensures that the opponents divide the tasks related to the public defence between themselves. The chair of the public defence must in turn ensure that the coordinator has knowledge of all these factors, and the chair should therefore initiate a meeting with the coordinator to review such details (attire, order of procession, distribution of work, allocation of time, practical details concerning seating arrangements in the room, use of audio-visual equipment etc.). Much of this information can be found in the relevant handout, but it is nevertheless important that this communication guards against any misunderstandings. The chair also initiates a meeting between himself/herself, the committee and the candidate before the trial lecture and public defence begin. The committee coordinator can assist in communicating this to the other members of the committee. The faculty’s administration can assist in informing the candidate of this meeting if required.
More on the role of the chair of the public defence
The entire adjudication committee is required to be present during the trial lecture(s) and public defence. The trial lecture(s) is a form of oral examination. The committee should also give the candidate feedback on the success of the trial lecture in terms of content and presentation/method. Around half an hour should therefore be set aside for a brief conversation after the trial lecture.
During the public defence, the chair wears the Dean’s gown and the dress code for members of the adjudication committee is dark suit. The order of procession into the auditorium is: chair of the public defence (master of ceremonies), the candidate, followed by the first to the third opponents. The audience rises and stands during the procession.
The candidate and committee stand at their designated places at the front of the auditorium, while the chair of the public defence proceeds to the rostrum/lectern. Everyone remains standing until the chair has taken his/her place and gives the signal to be seated.
The public defence starts with the chair reading from the template for such occasions. The template serves as a guide and may be adapted by the chair if deemed appropriate, but consideration should be given to the fact that this is a rhetorical situation that requires a certain level of dignity. Since this will be the first public defence that many of the audience members have attended, the chair may want to give a brief account of the schedule for the day.
Sections 5.2 and 5.3 of the Guidelines for the Evaluation of Norwegian Doctoral Degrees provide a description of the public defence and the assessment thereof.
The chair of the defence should, in consultation with the opponents, ensure that the public defence lasts no more than about three hours net.
When the chair has finished reading from the template for such occasions, the first opponent presents the dissertation and gives an account of the purpose and results of the scientific investigation (approx. 15 to 20 min.). The Faculty has decided that for the PhD degree it is the first opponent that will present the dissertation during the public defence as a basis for the opposition. The first opponent will after presenting the dissertation, then present his or her opposition (this usually takes the course of a discussion between the opponent and the doctoral candidate (approx. 60 min.)
After an interval the second ordinary opponent presents his or her opposition (this usually takes the course of a discussion between the opponent and the doctoral candidate (approx. 60 min.).
When the last opponent is finished and has been thanked, the chair will ask whether the candidate wants to say a few words to close. This is where the candidate normally extends his/her thanks.
After the public defence, both signed records, i.e. from the trial lecture and public defence are forwarded to the faculty.
After the chair has given a brief account of the submission and assessment of the thesis, and of the trial lecture and the assessment thereof, Dr. Philos. degree candidates will explain the purpose and results of the scientific investigation before the first opponent takes the floor.
After completing the public defence, the relevant department at the Faculty, UiO, may extend an invitation to a small celebration. The departments are requested to organize such celebrations, and perhaps especially for foreign candidates whose family are not present to attend any organized lunch/dinner following the public defence. The flowers decorating the auditorium are given to the candidate after the public defence. Flowers and small gifts can also be given to the candidate in connection with the department's celebration.
3. PhD dinner
An optional PhD dinner can be held on the same day as the public defence. The candidate is free to choose how he/she organizes the event, from formal to informal, or he/she can opt not to hold a dinner.
The chair of the public defence, the committee members and supervisor(s) are invited to the dinner. The chair and the third opponent, representing UiO and the committee respectively, should be prepared to say a few words.
The Faculty’s administration can assist with booking hotels. The adjudication committee members should book their own travel, but the faculty will cover travel expenses.
The designated time for the adjudication of the thesis is 30 hours, plus a potential 15 hours to adjudicate revised theses. The first opponent is paid 20 hours for the public defence, and the second opponent is paid for 15 hours. External members of the committee are paid at fixed rates. Committee members receive contracts, which they should sign and return immediately.
After leaving Oslo, travel expense claim forms should be sent to the contact person at the faculty. The following should be enclosed with the form:
- receipts (e.g. electronic tickets) for flight tickets
- receipts/original tickets for travel by bus, train, taxi etc. in connection with participation in the doctoral examination
- completed bank account details form, for payments outside Norway (only for committee members not living in Norway)
All receipts/tickets must clearly show the price and date of travel. See more detailed information on this (with relevant forms etc.).