Guidelines for doctoral candidates

Doctoral thesis

A doctoral thesis is a scientific presentation within the faculty’s field based on independent research which has not been published before.

The thesis may be published in Finnish, Swedish or English, or with the faculty’s consent, in another language.

To gain permission for a thesis defence, the author submits the manuscript to the Chief Academic Officer (Educarium Service Point, 4th floor) in three copies as well as a pdf version to The supervisor / a professor in the study subject submits a form for appointing preliminary reviewers and the certificate of originality check of the manuscript.

Article thesis

A doctoral thesis published at the Faculty of Social Sciences may be either a monograph or an article thesis. An article thesis is a publication which consists of an introductory chapter and a number of independent articles which have already been published or have been approved for publication, which all discuss the same research question or array of questions. An article thesis corresponds to a monograph in its scientific quality and other requirements. An article thesis consists of a summary and at least three scientific articles.

When starting an article thesis, the student and the main supervisor agree on a publishing plan for the thesis.

The articles can be ones that have either been published in scientific journals or edited volumes, or that have been accepted for publication. When the thesis is submitted for review, the thesis author must attach to the manuscript a note of acceptance from the editor of the journal or volume for each article that has not yet been published but has been accepted for publication.

Each article must present new research results. Because the articles cannot be edited when the thesis is being readied for publication, a certain amount of repetition or overlap is allowed in the articles.

All articles included in an article thesis must have gone through the peer review process. The articles may have been published either in Finland or internationally. It is however recommended that the component studies of an article thesis are published in international scientific journals.

The doctoral student must have a clearly independent role in writing the articles and drawing the conclusions. The articles may also include joint articles. The student must have been the principal author in at least three articles. When the thesis is submitted for review, the author and the supervisor must present to the faculty a written explanation of joint publications and the independent share the author has in them. The explanation is sent to the reviewers alongside the manuscript so that they can assess whether the total output of the student corresponds to the faculty’s requirements for the amount of work required for an article thesis.

The same article may, based on the aforementioned explanation, be used in several theses. An article thesis may however not include portions of the same student’s earlier doctoral thesis.

The publication date of the articles is not limited; articles therefore do not have an expiration date.


The summary section is prepared by the student alone. The recommended length of the summary is 30-100 pages. The summary is not just an extended abstract of the articles, but an analytical introduction to the work.

The summary is placed at the beginning of the work, before the articles. The summary presents the research question, its motivation, its position within the field, and the research goals, methods, results and conclusions. In the summary, the author also brings together the articles included in the thesis and brings out the significance of each to the whole of the research and the research results. The summary should therefore not present any new research or materials. Instead, the summary must critically evaluate the research presented in the articles and the significance of their findings at the time when the summary is published.


Including articles in the printed thesis that have already been published requires a written publication permit from the publisher. The student is responsible for getting the permit.


The article thesis is evaluated based on both the articles and the summary. The articles are evaluated both for their content and for the author’s contribution to each article, and for the cohesiveness of the articles and the summary. The summary is central to the evaluation.


The dean appoints at least two reviewers for the thesis, who, wherever possible, have the scientific credentials required of a docent. At least one of the reviewers must be from outside the University of Turku. The thesis supervisor may not act as a thesis reviewer. The proposal for reviewers is prepared by the head of the discipline and the supervisor.

The thesis author is given the opportunity to give a statement on the matter before the reviewers are appointed.

The recommended time limit to give a statement on permission to defend the thesis is three months. The statement may not be conditional, but it either favours or opposes giving the permission. The faculty assumes a thesis submitted for review is ready for publication. If the reviewers’ evaluations favour giving the permission for defence, the faculty board immediately takes the issue up for decision. If the statements oppose giving the permission on the basis that the manuscript still needs a considerable amount of work, the author must after making the required changes give the faculty a finalised manuscript. After receiving the manuscript, the faculty may still turn to the reviewers to have applicable parts of the work re-evaluated. The student may also halt the review process; in this case the supervisor recommends restarting the review when the work has been amended, and the faculty board again names the reviewers.


The thesis is published according to University of Turku guidelines.

Thesis evaluation

When the faculty board has given the permission to hold the thesis defence, the dean will appoint an opponent, a custos and an evaluation committee for the thesis.
The dean appoints one or two opponents to the thesis defence. The opponents should, if possible, have the scientific credentials required of a docent. The thesis supervisor may not act as an opponent. As a rule, the opponent should come from outside the University of Turku. The candidate is given the opportunity to give a statement before the opponent is appointed.

The dean appoints as custos one of the faculty’s professors or docents.
The custos will determine the defence session’s language after consulting with the candidate and the opponent. The language of the defence session is Finnish, Swedish or the language in which the thesis is written. The defence can be conducted in another language with the candidate’s permission. The candidate and opponent may use different languages in the defence, if they so agree.

To evaluate the thesis, the dean will appoint an evaluation committee whose task it is to make sure the evaluation is balanced. The committee consists of the custos, the opponent(s), the reviewers, the supervisor(s) and at least one professor in the department. The committee may also include an external expert. The custos will introduce the opponent and other members of the committee to the faculty’s evaluation practices, the evaluation scale and relevant statutes. The custos must also inform the committee of any other issues which may affect the evaluation.
After consulting with the evaluation committee, the opponent must give the faculty a well-founded statement in writing within six weeks of the defence session. The statement must either support or oppose approving the thesis and suggest a grade for a work to be approved. The statement must indicate how the evaluation committee has been consulted.

The candidate is offered the chance to respond to the opponent’s statement. The response must be given to the faculty before the faculty board meeting where the evaluation of the thesis in question is discussed.

The board will decide on the thesis’ approval and the grade. A thesis is approved on a scale of approbatur, lubenter approbatur, non sine laude approbatur, cum laude approbatur, magna cum laude approbatur, eximia cum laude approbatur and laudatur.

The following criteria are used when applying the grading scale:


The work is seriously deficient, but it meets the requirements for a doctoral thesis.

Lubenter approbatur

The work has several significant deficiencies without special merits which would compensate for them.

Non sine laude approbatur

The work has deficiencies without sufficient merits compensating for them.

Cum laude approbatur

The work is a good scientific effort. It is conceptually and linguistically clear; the research question, the methodological choices and conclusions are well grounded and the materials are relevant. The special merits of the work compensate for the deficiencies.

Magna cum laude approbatur

The work has special scientific merits without deficiencies which detract from them.

Eximia cum laude approbatur

The work has very significant scientific merits without deficiencies to detract from them.


The work is scientifically ambitious and very praiseworthy.

The thesis author may submit to the faculty board a written request for rectification on the thesis evaluation within 14 days of receiving notice of the decision.

Doctoral degree certificate

The doctoral degree certificate is awarded by the dean. The certificate shows the field, the title and grade of the thesis and the number of credits in other studies.​​​​​​​