Doctoral School

Examination of doctoral dissertation (1.8.2015 -)

Instructions particularly for the examiners of doctoral dissertations.

Procedure before the preliminary examination

At the Jyväskylä University School of Business and Economics (JSBE) a doctoral dissertation is always written under the guidance of at least one supervisor. However, it is recommended that doctoral student has more than one supervisor. They may be from different subjects. Normally one of the supervisors is the professor of the student’s major subject.

The dissertation can be a monograph or a collection of articles or essays. In the latter case, the pieces, which are all related to the same general theme, can be scientific publications, manuscripts approved for publishing or other equivalent work fulfilling the scientific criteria of a doctoral dissertation. They should be preceded by an introductory chapter in which the research problem, its motivation and scientific positioning as well as research aims, methods, results and conclusions regarding the dissertation as a whole are presented. The articles/essays may be co-authored, if the candidate’s own significant contribution can be clearly shown.

After the supervisor has examined that the manuscript meets the requirements set for a doctoral dissertation, the doctoral candidate submits an application to the Faculty Council asking it to confirm the preliminary examiners of his/her doctoral dissertation.

The Faculty Council appoints at least two preliminary examiners based on the proposal of either the supervising professor or the professor of the student’s major subject. The preliminary examiners are nominated from outside the JSBE. In addition, a person who has co-authored research papers with the doctoral candidate can neither serve as a preliminary examiner. The preliminary examiners must have docent or similar qualifications at minimum. One of the preliminary examiners can be a doctor, if he or she has special merits in the field of study being pre-examined. Doctoral candidate must be given an opportunity to express their views concerning the selection (the possible ineligibility) of the preliminary examiners before they are appointed.

Information on the dissertation requirements at the University of Jyväskylä must be sent to all pre-examiners (see pdf in Finnish, pdf in English).

Instructions for preliminary examiners

The preliminary examiners must give a substantiated, written statement (about 1200–1600 words) evaluating whether the dissertation can be considered to have such scientific value that it meets the requirements set for a doctoral dissertation, and that it can be granted a printing permit. The evaluation must contain exemplification of the strengths and weaknesses of the manuscript. At the end of their evaluation, the preliminary examiners must express their view on the grade or its range for the manuscript. The final grade for the doctoral dissertation is given at a later stage (based on the written work and the public examination); see “Grading of the doctoral dissertation” and “Characterization of the applied grading scale used for the doctoral dissertation” below.

In the event that the preliminary examiner requires changes to be made to the dissertation, the matter will not be dealt with in the Faculty Council before preliminary examiners can recommend that the dissertation warrants printing permission. The Faculty Council ultimately grants printing permission on the basis of the preliminary examiners’ substantiated and unconditional written statements. Unconditional means that the examiners do not have decisive requirements for revisions before printing permission can be granted. Preliminary examiners may discuss any changes or corrections to the dissertation research during the preliminary examination. However, the preliminary examiners do not act as supervisors of the dissertation research. Thus, the statements cannot be conditional.

The preliminary examiners can provide individual statements or a joint statement. The preliminary examiner’s statement should be provided within three months from the receipt of the manuscript. The signed statement is addressed to the Faculty Council. The author of the doctoral dissertation is given an opportunity to express an opinion about the proposal before the Faculty Council meeting.

Public examination of a doctoral dissertation

The Faculty Council appoints the opponent(s) for the public examination based on the proposal of either the supervising professor or the professor of the student’s major subject. The Faculty Council also confirms the date for the public examination of the doctoral dissertation.

Supervisor(s) and/or a person appointed by the supervisor (e.g. assistant of the student’s major subject) take(s) care of the practical arrangements related to the opponent’s visit.

Information on the dissertation requirements at the University of Jyväskylä must be sent to the opponent(s) (see pdf in Finnish, pdf in English).

Procedures at the public examination of a doctoral dissertation

Detailed instructions on the official procedures during the public examination are given at website (University of Jyväskylä, PR and Information, Dissertation):

https://opiskelu.jyu.fi/en/instructions/doctoral-dissertation#section-8

See the “Procedure at Dissertation” in particular. After the official public examination, a reception with coffee is held. The doctoral candidate is no longer expected to perform at this unofficial and private occasion. It is also usual that the doctoral candidate arranges a post-doctoral party in honor of the opponent.

Grading of the doctoral dissertation

After the public examination, the opponent(s) appointed by the Faculty Council has/have 14 days to deliver a written statement(s) including a substantiated evaluation of the scientific value of the final doctoral dissertation and whether it serves its purpose. Also, an evaluation of how the candidate succeeded in defending his/her dissertation should be included. If there is more than one opponent, they can give individual statements or a joint statement. On the grounds of these arguments, the opponent(s) propose(s) a grade for the doctoral dissertation; see “Characterization of the applied grading scale used for the doctoral dissertation” below. Expectation for the extent of the statement is about 1200–1600 words.

The opponent’s final, signed statement should be addressed to the Faculty Council.

The Faculty Council ultimately grants the grade for the doctoral dissertation, and this decision is based on the opponent(s)’s final written statement(s) and the proposition done by the Doctoral Dissertation Committee. At the Jyväskylä University School of Business and Economics, the JSBE Research Committee (members with a completed doctoral degree and independent of the doctoral candidate) acts as the Doctoral Dissertation Committee, which is coordinated by the Head of Student and Academic Affairs.

Before the Doctoral Dissertation Committee meeting, Head of Student and Academic Affairs, Coordinator of Doctoral School, Vice Dean leading the JSBE Research Committee and a representative from the doctoral candidate’s discipline (who should be independent of the candidate, nominated by the Head of Discipline, and hold a doctoral degree) will prepare a preliminary proposition for it. The meeting of the committee may be organised as an e-mail meeting, where every member gives her/his opinion. In a face-to-face meeting, half of the members of the committee must be present.

The author of the doctoral dissertation is also given an opportunity to express an opinion about the proposed grade before the Faculty Council makes its decision. A supervisor of the doctoral candidate cannot participate in the grading of the doctoral dissertation.

Characterization of the applied grading scale used for the doctoral dissertation

The opponent is expected to submit one of the following verbal grades used in the Jyväskylä University School of Business and Economics for the doctoral dissertation. The purpose of these descriptions and exemplifications is to assist the opponent(s) and the Doctoral Dissertation Committee in proposing a grade to the dissertation.

Accepted with distinction ("kiittäen hyväksytty")

The doctoral dissertation provides a significant contribution to knowledge in its own field. The dissertation will most likely result, or has already resulted, in articles in highly respected refereed scientific journals. It is expected to be widely cited in the scientific literature. Presentations at highly respected international conferences or meetings also signal the quality of the study. Only approximately 10-15 percent of the dissertations are awarded with distinction. The proposition of the Doctoral Dissertation Committee must be unanimous.

Accepted ("hyväksytty")

The doctoral dissertation provides a scientific contribution to knowledge in its own field. It contains innovative and creative ideas, and it may result or has already resulted in one or more articles in refereed scientific journals. The dissertation demonstrates the author’s ability to produce new scientific results independently.

Failing ("hylätty")

The doctoral dissertation does not fulfil the minimal standards of acceptance


Accepted by the Faculty Council in 16.6.2015.

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