Procedures and advice on the conclusion phase of a doctoral thesis
This information aims to provide practical details of procedures and advice in relation to the conclusion of a doctoral thesis at the Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Oslo. The information covers the process from when a candidate completes their thesis and is ready to submit it for adjudication, up to the conferral ceremony at UiO’s ceremonial hall, the Aula.
Much of the content will be a repetition or popularization of issues already covered in regulations, etc. The information is presented in a user-friendly manner, and a description is given of the traditions and customs that have evolved around the occasion of the doctoral defence.
As part of the Quality Reform, it was decided by royal decree to introduce the term “PhD” for all doctoral degrees based on organized research training. This includes our dr.polit. and dr.scient programmes. The decision to introduce the PhD degree came into effect on 11 October 2002. All candidates admitted to the doctoral degree programme after October 2002 were therefore assumed to be transferred to the PhD programme upon approval by the University Board. The candidates that were already on the dr.polit. and dr.scient programmes had to complete the degree by a deadline (spring semester 2008) set by the Ministry of Education and Research. As from the autumn semester of 2008, all candidates admitted to a supervised degree programme (including dr.polit. and dr.scient.) had to satisfy requirements for the PhD degree and be assessed for this degree. The PhD programme is similar to the dr.polit. and dr.scient programmes. The transition will not therefore present any particular challenges.
The Regulations for the Degree of Philosophiae Doctor (PhD) at the University of Oslo were approved by the University Board in a meeting on 25 March 2003, and were subsequently revised in 2007. The revised regulations apply to all candidates admitted after 1 June 2007. The PhD doctoral degree programme for the Faculty was approved by the University Board in a meeting on 6 May 2003. The doctoral degree programme was revised in 2008. The revised version of the programme applies to all candidates admitted on or after 1 August 2008.
This information is written with a view to covering both the organized research training in the PhD degree and the “free” Dr. Philos. degree. The information is not intended as an exhaustive account of the regulations and special provisions applicable to these degrees. For this, refer to the applicable regulations and programme plans or to the Faculty’s web pages, which have information on organized research training at the Faculty.
The information has three main targets groups:
The candidates ("applicants", doctoral candidates
The administration at the Department and Faculty level
The adjudication committees
The information seeks to describe what each of these three target groups must/should consider at the different stages of the concluding phase of a doctoral degree. The information is therefore organized with the aim of trying to answer: WHO does WHAT – WHEN and HOW? The Faculty has chosen to assemble the information so that everyone involved in the assessment of a doctoral degree is aware of the different roles, and therefore also the general procedure.
This information also reflects the respective administrative roles of the Department and Faculty.
0. Before submitting the thesis
The Faculty’s PhD Programme Council has examined how to hasten the process from the point the candidate submits his/her thesis for evaluation up to when the public defence is held. The Council found it would be beneficial to change the routine for when the units can start considering appointments to adjudication committees for supervised doctoral degrees (PhD).
Approximately six months prior to the expected submission of the thesis, the candidate's supervisor should notify the head of the unit of the forthcoming submission. The unit then starts the work of identifying suitable candidates to appoint to the adjudication committee. This work can sometimes take time. See also section 2. Appointment of the adjudication committee.
Before submitting the thesis, the candidate is advised to read UiO’s Guidelines for the evaluation of Norwegian doctoral degrees, approved by the University Senate on 8 April 1997. Section 3.2 – Evaluation of the thesis may be particularly relevant since these guidelines also serve as a guide for the adjudication committee’s work.
1. Submitting the thesis
When submitting a thesis for evaluation under the doctoral degree programme, it is important that the candidate ensures the following:
When the thesis and educational component are completed, the candidate sends a simple application for evaluation of the doctoral degree. The application is addressed and sent to the Faculty at the following address:
The Faculty of Educational Sciences, PO Box 1161 Blindern, NO-0317 Oslo, NORWAY
The application must include the name of the candidate’s supervisor(s), and the department’s verification of the completed educational component (course programme) specifying the different courses.
Dr. Philos. degree:
The application to present for the Dr. Philos. degree is addressed and sent/delivered to the Faculty at the following address:
The Faculty of Educational Sciences, PO Box 1161 Blindern, NO-0317 Oslo, NORWAY
For both degrees:
The application must also contain:
- Name, address and telephone number (for contact purposes)
- Title of thesis and information on whether the thesis is a monograph or is article-based
- Overview of any individual works; where and when they were published
- Co-author declarations, where applicable
- Verified copy of examination certificate
- A brief summary of the thesis in English/Norwegian (electronic and paper version). Details should be given of the following using a maximum of 25 lines (in Times 12 font):
a. the subject area of the thesis
b. the research questions/hypotheses examined
c. which method(s) and data are used
d. important conclusions and findings that are central to the research outcome
e. can the findings be exemplified with a utility value?
f. where the work was carried out
The application must also contain other information, such as if the work has been submitted for evaluation before, a few words about what the work relates to and the relationship to the Master’s thesis if the thesis is a continuation of this. Candidates should not make suggestions for the adjudication committee. Two copies of the thesis must be sent with the application. If the candidate is submitting joint work with other authors, a declaration explaining their individual contributions must be included for each co-author. If two candidates are submitting joint work, a declaration of which parts of the thesis each candidate is responsible for must be given.The thesis must be attached with the electronic version of the application.
For the PhD degree: The Faculty will not appoint an adjudication committee until confirmation of completion of the course programme is received from the relevant unit.
1.1 Submitted theses cannot be recalled
A candidate cannot withdraw a thesis that has been submitted for evaluation, and cannot in principle make changes to the thesis. Before multiple copies of the thesis are printed, however, the candidate may make minor editorial corrections (layout, typographic errors, deletions, etc.). Material changes are not permitted. When the thesis has been approved as worthy of public defence, the candidate must submit an overview of corrections (errata list) to the Faculty together with the required number of copies of the thesis. This errata list must also be included as an appendix to the thesis. This list should not be long. As a matter of principle, the Faculty will not accept a thesis that is not properly prepared.
2. Appointment of the adjudication committee
As stated in section 0 above, the supervisor is responsible for notifying the head of the unit/research education coordinator when the candidate has about 6 months left of his/her doctoral work. The supervisor may propose suitable candidates to take part in the adjudication committee to the relevant department. In addition to initiating the process of identifying assessors before the candidate has submitted their thesis, the unit (head of department or the academic member of staff (e.g. research education coordinator) who is authorized to do so) prepares a progress plan for the evaluation work. The plan must adhere to the regulatory three-month time limit plus the necessary processing time (i.e. not more than 6 months). This means that potential assessors who are unable to meet this deadline cannot be proposed as committee members by the unit to the Faculty. Whoever is appointed as coordinator for the committee will then take over the progress plan because the persons proposed have committed to meeting this deadline. The proposal for the composition of an expert adjudication committee consisting of at least three members, ref. UHR’s Doctoral Degree Regulations and section 2.1 of UiO’s Guidelines for the evaluation of Norwegian doctoral degrees approved by the University Senate on 8 April 1997, shall be submitted by the department simultaneously or prior to submission of the thesis, or as quickly as possible thereafter. The Faculty’s administration gives a high priority to the work of appointing adjudication committee members, and the department's proposal for the composition will be processed immediately following submission of the thesis and after all other criteria relating to submission have been met and documented.
Dr. Philos. degree:
The Faculty sends Dr. Philos. theses to the department whose subject area is most closely related to the subject of the thesis, with a request to submit a proposal for the adjudication committee. The department then submits a proposal to the expert adjudication committee at the Faculty, consisting of at least three members, cf. UHR’s Doctoral Degree Regulations and section 2.1 of UiO’s Guidelines for the evaluation of Norwegian doctoral degrees,
The proposal must be submitted by the department as quickly as possible. After the department receives an application/request, it should normally take no more than one month for the department to complete its proposal for an adjudication committee.
For both degrees:
Both genders should, where possible, be represented in the adjudication committee. Where this is not possible, it must be substantiated. Requirements for the committee's composition and expertise are laid out in the regulations covering degrees. If none of the three members of the committee work at the Faculty, the department must propose an internal, academic coordinator in addition.
The Faculty must appoint an impartial and competent adjudication committee. One point that the Faculty must consider is that the proposed committee members should not normally have published joint work with the candidate's supervisor(s). It should therefore be noted that every member of the committee needs to submit a declaration of impartiality, which confirms this.
In addition to the actual evaluation of the thesis, the committee’s coordinator has a special responsibility in connection with facilitating the work of the committee. Once the committee has been appointed, the coordinator must confirm with the Faculty the work plan that has already been set for the committee. Potential delays must be reported as quickly as possible. The coordinator will also be the link between the Faculty’s administration and the committee in relation to information about the process and the final phase. The coordinator shall, inter alia, inform the other committee members of the Faculty’s various decision-making procedures, the phase when the subject is selected for the set topic of the trial lecture – which should be well in advance of the candidate being informed of this by the Faculty, what the Faculty can assist with in connection with travel and accommodation when attending committee meetings and the public defence, the final date, time and place of the trial lecture and public defence, where the committee will meet for the trial lecture and public defence, and any other matters that need attending to.
The proposal by the department is forwarded to the Faculty, and must include the following:
- Date the candidate submitted the thesis.
- Title and place of work, with addresses for the proposed committee members.
- Confirmation that proposed members have a PhD or equivalent qualification, and that they have agreed to be part of the committee.
- Details of who is proposed as the head or coordinator of the work.
- A brief substantiation of the proposal in relation to the thesis.
The Department sends a copy of the proposed composition of the adjudication committee to the Faculty and the candidate. Any appeal against the composition of the committee must be received by the Faculty no later than 7 days after the candidate received the information. A reassessment of the composition may subsequently be needed, but this should not prevent the appointments being made within the deadline.
The dean is authorized to approve the department's proposal for an adjudication committee on behalf of the Faculty. The Faculty sends a letter of appointment of the adjudication committee directly to the candidate, along with a copy to the department and the committee members. The Faculty then writes to the committee members and sends them the thesis, the form for adjudication work, and this handout as a guide. The committee is further requested to give its recommendation as soon as possible and preferably within three months of receiving the thesis. The committee is also asked to take the initiative to set a date for the public defence in order that a plan can be drawn up for the whole adjudication process as follows:
- When the recommendation will be ready
- Deadline for comments from the candidate
- When the candidate will be informed of the set topic for the trial lecture
- Date of the trial lecture and public defence
The Faculty has now decided that the public defence will be held on a set day of the week, for example Fridays. If the recommendation is not submitted to the Faculty at least one month before the planned public defence, the defence must be postponed.
The following summary of deadlines can serve as an aid in the planning.
|Phase||Submission||Appointment of committee||Recommendation ready||Approval for defence||Deadline for topic for trial lecture:|
|Deadline||About a month||Normally three months after the committee receives the thesis.||At least one month before the date of the defence||The Faculty shall decide on the set topic at least three weeks before the defence. Self-selected topics (for the Dr. Philos. degree) are to be submitted to the Faculty four weeks before the defence. The candidate should be informed of the set topic at least 14 days (10 working days) before the defence.|
An employment agreement form (in Norwegian and English) for the adjudication work is sent to the committee members. The standard fee for the evaluation of a doctoral thesis covers 30 hours of work. The opposition work is considered to take 20 and 15 hours for the first and second opponents respectively. The fees are based on the basic salary of the job category (professor, associate professor) of the individual committee member. If an internal member of the committee is emeritus and is therefore also administering the committee, their fee is the same as external committee members, and 5 hours of work is added to their salary. The form for account details (only applies to payments abroad) will be sent with the employment agreement form.
If the candidate has not heard anything within approximately 3 months of the committee being appointed, he/she should contact the Faculty to ascertain whether the work is nearing completion. The candidate and committee must not have direct contact; all contact must be via the Faculty’s administration.
3. Evaluation and recommendation
Contact with the adjudication committee
To guide the adjudication committee's work, the Faculty sends the Guidelines for the evaluation of Norwegian doctoral degrees to the committee members along with the candidate's thesis.
The guidelines specify what aspects to concentrate on when evaluating 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 is therefore crucial both for the candidate and for the committee’s evaluation of the thesis.
If the individual works do not contain a discussion of key concepts in the thesis as a whole, the assembled text must include such elements.
The aforementioned guidelines will be sent together with the Guidelines for article-based theses and the regulations for the degree.
The Faculty aims for a seamless communication flow in relation to the progress of the committee’s work. This also entails early notification of details regarding the public defence date etc., ref. the schematic overview shown above. The committee must inform the Faculty if the recommendation process is facing delays. The committee must not contact the candidate directly; all contact should go via the Faculty’s administration.
As the adjudication committee's work approaches a conclusion, the Faculty decides, together with the dean, who will chair the public defence. If the dean is unable to take part, a deputy appointed by the dean will chair the trial lecture(s) and public defence on behalf of the Faculty.
The Faculty will pay travel expenses as they arise if the committee deems it necessary to meet to discuss the recommendation.
3.1 Committee’s assessment and conclusion of the evaluation
Evaluation procedures at the Faculty differ for the PhD and Dr. Philos. degrees, as set out below.
3.1.1 – Committee’s assessment and conclusion of the PhD degree
On 1 August 2008, the Faculty implemented changes to the evaluation procedures for the PhD degree, as follows:
After submission of the thesis, the adjudication committee may, as part of its assessment, provide the Faculty with a written recommendation of specific points to be revised in the thesis, ref. section 14.2 of the regulations – Revision of a submitted thesis (laid down by the University Board on 21 June 2007) or 7.4 – Revision on the basis of the committee’s interim comments in the regulations that apply to candidates submitting their thesis before 21 June 2007. The following refers solely to the regulations laid down by the University Board on 21 June 2007 and section 14.2 of these regulations. If the adjudication committee recommends a revision, the recommendation must propose a time frame 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, adjustments to tables 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 gives approval for a revision to be made before the committee makes a recommendation, the doctoral 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 of 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)
3.1.2 – Committee’s assessment and conclusion of the Dr. Philos. degree
For the Dr. Philos. degree, the following still applies:
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)
It should be noted, however, that the Faculty is considering 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 initiates the final stage of the thesis evaluation 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 supervisors. In the cover letter, the candidate is given a deadline of approximately two weeks from receipt of the recommendation to submit comments.
3.2 Faculty’s review of the committee’s conclusion
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.
Pursuant to the decision of the Faculty Board in a meeting on Wednesday 19 March 2014, the dean’s approval of the recommendation will not be forwarded to the Faculty Board for information purposes. The Faculty's report on the public defence will, however, be forwarded to the Board for information.
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 that can 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 will be 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) whether the thesis is not deemed worthy of defence.
In cases where a thesis that is rejected “in its present form” is submitted for evaluation a second time, 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.
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 evaluation more than once. Candidates must also wait six months to resubmit from the date of the final decision.
3.3 Faculty’s evaluation decision procedure
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.
4. Thesis worthy of defence
When a thesis is found worthy of defence, the Faculty will inform the candidate of what he/she needs to do before the defence takes place and the arrangements regarding the defence. Public defence of the thesis normally takes place within two months of the Faculty finding the thesis worthy of defence. For the PhD degree, this is stipulated in section 18.2 of the UiO’s regulations for the degree laid down by the University Board on 22 June 2010.
The Faculty is responsible for:
Preparations prior to the public defence.
The Faculty asks the candidate to do the following:
- Supply the Faculty with a minimum of 30 copies of the thesis for the Faculty’s publication series at least two weeks before the public defence. Both the candidate and the unit may print additional copies if desired.
- Complete the personal details form in appendix 5 and submit along with a passport-size photo at least three weeks before the public defence.
- For the Dr. Philos. degree: propose a topic for the self-selected trial lecture at least four weeks before the public defence. (Does not apply to the PhD degree.)
Simultaneous to this, the Faculty informs the candidate that the set topic will be announced on a specific date two weeks (14 days) before the public defence.
The Faculty must book a venue for the trial lecture and public defence well in advance, and forward this information to the candidate and the adjudication committee.
Who gets copies of the thesis?
- 7 copies are to be sent and charged to the National Library of Norway, at the department in Mo i Rana.
- 2 copies are to be sent to the HumSam library service at UiO.
- All members of the adjudication committee.
- 1 copy is to be sent to the chair of the public defence.
- 1 copy is to be sent to the archives.
Ten to twelve copies need to be kept for distribution at the public defence, while the remainder can be given to interested parties who contact the Faculty prior to the public defence. If there is a big demand for a thesis, it can be loaned out for perusal, but such copies will be needed for distribution at the public defence, so must therefore be returned.
Information on the trial lecture and public defence
When the faculty has received the information from the candidate referred to above, the Faculty publishes the information about the public defence, a summary of the thesis and a photo of the candidate on the web under the upcoming public defences section, and informs UiO’s Public Relations and Events Office [d1] thereof. The Faculty also enters details of the public defence on the notice board on UiO’s website. Information about the public defence is also distributed to all Faculty staff, doctoral candidates, competency centres, the Public Relations and Events Office[d2] , etc. A separate information poster is distributed to specific addressees (other faculties, central administration, specified institutions).
For the Dr. Philos. degree
The Dr. Philos. degree has two trial lectures; one with a self-selected topic and one with a set topic. Since the lectures will be held before the public defence, and the committee will attend all of these, it is practical and common for the two trial lectures to be held back to back the day before the public defence. For example, the lectures may be held on a Thursday at 2.15pm and 3.15pm, with the self-selected lecture first. Each trial lecture will last approximately 45 minutes.
For the PhD degree
For the PhD degree, which only has one trial lecture and a set topic, the trial lecture and public defence are carried out on the same day. The lecture may, for example, be held at 10.15am, and the defence may start at 12.15pm. The lecture will last approximately 45 minutes.
Other technical responsibilities of the Faculty:
The Faculty is responsible for booking a venue for the trial lecture(s) and public defence, as well as facilitating the practical framework. The Faculty’s preferred venue is Helga Engs Hus. The Faculty ensures that the venue is ready for use, checking that any blackboards and whiteboards have been cleaned, and ensuring that technical aids such as overhead projectors, computers etc. are checked in advance. Specifically, this entails:
- Notifying the candidate in writing of the date and time of the public defence, as well as the title of the set topic two weeks before the date of the public defence.
- Producing a public defence/trial lecture notice and sending this to the distribution list. The notice, along with personal details, is sent to the University Director’s Office and published on the notice board at UiO’s website.
- Clarifying with the coordinator of the committee whether the Faculty will book hotels for committee members, whether a lunch will be held on the day of the public defence (optional), and whether either of the opponents (or the candidate) will need technical equipment during the defence.
- Clarifying who will chair the trial lecture and public defence.
- Informing the officer in charge well in advance of the public defence, and ensuring that the dean’s gown is in place.
- Ensuring that the venue of the trial lecture and public defence is tidy and clean.
- If a lunch is to be held, ordering and paying for the lunch for the candidate, committee and dean/deputy for the dean.
- Ensuring that a bouquet of flowers is available for presentation to the candidate after the public defence.
- Ensuring that a jug of water and glasses are available for the candidate and the opponents.
- Ensuring that extra copies of the thesis are available in the venue.
- Ensuring that the chair of the public defence has the template that will be read aloud, the so-called “lesson”.
- Ensuring that the coordinator of the adjudication committee or the dean have two protocols (forms) for the committee to verify that the trial lecture(s) and public defence have been carried out satisfactorily. The dean’s representative receives the protocols from the Faculty and ensures that the coordinator of the adjudication committee receives them.
- Reporting on the trial lecture to the University Board.
- Paying fees and travel expenses (from the general grant in line with fixed rates).
Adjudication committee’s duties leading up to the trial lecture and public defence
The adjudication committee chooses the set 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 set topic of the trial lecture at least three weeks in advance of the lecture. The Faculty notifies the candidate of the chosen topic within the regulated timeframe.
The adjudication committee allocates the roles of first and second opponent during the public defence. Internal members of the adjudication committee are not normally opponents. The regulations briefly describe the first and second opponents’ duties (ref. section 18.2 in the revised regulations of 2010).
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 doctoral 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 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.
The candidate’s duties before the public defence
The candidate does not have any special duties to perform while his/her thesis is being assessed, but it may be prudent to:
- Start planning/writing the trial lecture with the self-selected topic (Dr. Philos. candidates only – see below).
- Prepare an original version of the thesis for printing, including an errata list, and establish where the printing will be done.
- Obtain an ISBN number if the thesis will not be part of the Faculty’s publication series.
It is not normally a good idea for a candidate to do too much preparatory work before receiving confirmation that the thesis is worthy of public defence. On the other hand, things can get very hectic once this confirmation is received.
If the candidate has not heard anything within approximately four months of the committee being appointed, he/she should contact the Faculty to ascertain whether the work is nearing completion. The candidate will not be contacted directly by the committee.
After the thesis is found worthy of defence, the candidate must clarify, and extend if appropriate, the final errata list on the advice of the adjudication committee. Otherwise, the candidate should:
- Contact the department to sign the requisition form (PhD degree), and contact the printer.
- Order the required number of copies (30), as well as extra copies for own use etc. together with the department.
Any questions that the candidate may have can be taken up with the Faculty’s administration.
The department is responsible for the following:
The department covers the costs of printing the thesis for candidates on the Faculty’s doctoral programme. The following also applies to the department:
- Inspire employees/students to attend the public defence.
- If the committee requires assistance in addition to that offered by the Faculty, the department’s administration must be contacted.
A representative from the department that the thesis is affiliated with should be in attendance.
4.1 Trial lectures
Reference is made to the description in section 5.1 of the Guidelines for the evaluation of Norwegian doctoral degrees.
The chair of the trial lecture opens the lecture, then introduces the candidate and manages the question and discussion session that follows. The Faculty has devised a template that can be used as it stands or as a basis for a more personalized presentation.
Each trial lecture should last 45 minutes, including time for any questions from and/or discussions with the audience. The trial lectures must of course be “original”. After the lecture(s), the chairperson concludes by reminding the gathering of the time and place of the public defence.
The candidate should practice staying within the timeframe stipulated. Refer also to section 5.1 of the Guidelines for the evaluation of Norwegian doctoral degrees, where the candidate in particular should note that the intention is to demonstrate an ability to “disseminate research-based knowledge” to a target group of advanced students.
The candidate may invite friends, colleagues from their own institution and family to the trial lectures. The lecture hall can accommodate everyone who wants to attend.
The adjudication committee
The entire adjudication committee is expected to be present at the trial lectures and public defence. The trial lectures are 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 lectures.
The dean/chair of the public defence
The chair of the public defence (the dean or an appointed deputy) also chairs the trial lectures and creates a framework around them. The Faculty assists the chairperson with the preparation of a template that he/she can use as is or as a basis for a more personalized presentation.
If the chairperson is unable to attend the trial lecture, the committee's third member takes over this task. However, in the event of the chairperson being unable to attend the public defence a separate/new representative of the dean must be appointed.
4.2 Public defence
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 public defence 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 three hours net. A lunch during the public defence is not compulsory, but a lunch could indeed be arranged for after the public defence.
When the last opponent is finished and has been thanked, the chair should 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(s) and public defence, are forwarded to the Faculty.
The Faculty has decided that for the PhD degree it is the first opponent that will present the thesis during the public defence as a basis for the opposition, ref. the adjudication committee's duties below.
For the Dr. Philos. degree
After the chair has given a brief account of the submission and evaluation of the thesis, and of the trial lectures and the assessment thereof, Dr. Philos. degree candidates will explain the objective and results of the scientific investigation before the first opponent takes the floor.
During the public defence, the dress code for the candidate is dark suit (or bunad).
The candidate should make an active defence of his/her thesis, but not act “'insulted” or “stubborn”, and should help retain a positive atmosphere during the public defence. In brief concluding remarks, the candidate should express his/her thanks for the opportunity to take the PhD examination, and thank the committee for its work (see the section on public defence).
It is customary for the candidate to invite family and friends to the public defence. It may be a good idea to explain the public defence to them beforehand, and prepare them for the opponents taking a critical role.
The adjudication committee
The entire adjudication committee is required to be present during the public defence. The committee divides the tasks between the first and second opponents. The split does not necessarily have to entail the second opponent concentrating on the more formal aspects of the thesis, but he/she should take a lesser role than the first opponent. The first opponent presents the thesis during the public defence as a basis for the opposition.
Chair of the public defence
The chair of the public defence (the dean or a representative of the dean) opens and concludes the public defence according to a set template, which may be adapted. The chair is responsible for dealing with situations that arise due to unforeseen circumstances. If there are problems with the microphone or audio-visual equipment, the chairperson must intervene and ensure that this is remedied. If a lunch is to be held, the chairperson acts as host.
The seating arrangements in the auditorium follow a traditional layout. However, the chair of the public defence may change the layout, for example with the adjudication committee sitting in front of the podium, where they are in full view of the audience.
Upon conclusion of the public defence, the relevant unit may extend an invitation to a small celebration. The units are requested to organize such celebrations, and perhaps especially for foreign candidates whose family are unable to attend any organized lunch/dinner that may follow. 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 unit’s celebration.
5. PhD dinner
The candidate – who is now a doctoral candidate – is free to decide what type of event he/she wants to hold; from a large formal dinner (white tie), to a buffet after the public defence, or to no dinner at all. It is customary, but not compulsory, to hold a dinner where the dress code is black tie or dark suit. The dinner is official, but may have a less official element to conclude the evening. No matter the nature or size of the event, it must be held the same afternoon or evening as the public defence.
The chairperson, committee members and supervisors should be invited to the dinner. It is also natural to invite people who have been closely involved in your thesis work, including your family. The cost of the dinner can be split, but it would not be appropriate to ask the committee or chairperson to contribute.
There are no fixed rules for seating, but the doctoral candidate and his/her escort, the members of the adjudication committee, the chair of the public defence and the main supervisor should be seated centrally, or at the main table if there are different tables. The chairperson or the first opponent should act as table host, but someone else can give thanks for the meal if preferred. This task can be agreed in advance with, for example, one of the other guests or the third opponent/the committee’s administrative leader.
The toast master (with whom the doctoral candidate is responsible for making arrangements) should carefully try to steer the proceedings and help to ensure that the dinner does not go on for too long. There should not be too many speeches during dinner, and they should not be too long. The following people should say a few words (preferably in this order): the doctoral candidate (who thanks the university, committee, academic community, family, etc.), the chair of the public defence/representative of the University, main supervisor/representative of the academic community and the third opponent.
The PhD dinner costs money, and the doctoral candidate can only expect to have part of the costs covered by others. As well as the option to share the costs, part of the cost is tax deductible, which may help to ease the financial burden. The maximum amount that can be deducted for 2010 in Oslo is approximately NOK 21 900, for which receipts must be provided. As well as covering part of the dinner costs (for the adjudication committee and dean, but not for family and friends), this amount can also be put towards the printing of the thesis and travel expenses for attending the trial lectures and public defence. Guidelines and amounts may differ at other tax offices.
6. Faculty and UiO administration after the public defence
After the public defence, protocols are submitted for satisfactorily completed trial lectures and public defence to the Faculty. The Faculty will then recommend the candidate for a doctorate to the University Board. The Faculty prints out the diploma supplement*, which is forwarded to the University Director's Office along with the diploma, plus the summary of the thesis, for use during the conferral.
The Faculty also pays the adjudication committee’s fees and covers their travel and accommodation expenses in connection with the public defence.
The Faculty is responsible for providing the dean with the press summary of the thesis for use at the conferral.
Conferral ceremonies are held once or twice per semester, and all new doctors take part regardless of type of degree or faculty. At the ceremony, which is held in the ceremonial hall, the Aula, each doctoral candidate, or groups of doctoral candidates are called to the podium. The dean of the faculty with which the doctoral candidate is affiliated, gives a brief explanation of each thesis. The doctoral candidates are then awarded their doctoral diploma by the rector.
After the ceremony in the Aula, there is a simple celebration organized by the University for the doctoral candidates and their escorts, as well as representatives of the University.
The conferral ceremony takes 2-3 hours, including the celebration. Conferral is not compulsory, but the doctoral candidates should try to take part where possible.
Informal attire/suit is recommended for the conferral. Candidates are welcome to invite their supervisor, family, friends, etc. to the ceremony in the Aula.
8. Further information
The procedures referred to in this handout are intended as supplementary information to the applicable regulations:
Regulations for the degree of Doctor Philosophiae (Dr. Philos.) at the University of Oslo, laid down by the rector under authorization on 5 January 2011
Applicable programme plans