Examination of the dissertation and the public defense

Examination of the dissertation involves many steps before it is solemnly reviewed at the public defense of the dissertation. On these pages you will find information about the examination process and the regulations of the University of Vaasa regarding the process. Doctoral candidates get also guidance from their supervisors and the personnel of the Graduate School who are specialized in the dissertation process.
  1. The manuscript of the dissertation is submitted to the School (supervisors needs to support the start of the pre-examination process)
  2. The management group of the School appoints the pre-examiners
  3. The statements of the pre-examiners arrive at the School
  4. The pre-examination statements are sent to the doctoral candidate and the supervisor for information
  5. The management group of the School decides on the granting of  permission for the public defense
  6. The management group of the School appoints the opponent (s) and the custos for the dissertation
  7.  The publishing process of the dissertation (6 weeks)
  8. The time of the public defense will be decided
  9. Public display of the dissertation ie nailing no later than 10 days before the dissertation
  10. Informing about the dissertation
  11. Public defense
  12. The opponent submits his statement to the School
  13. The opponent's statement is forwarded to the doctoral candidate for information
  14. The doctoral candidate is given the opportunity to comment on the opponent's statement
  15. The management group of the school decides on the approval and grade of the dissertation

The dissertation may be submitted for preliminary examination when the supervisors of the dissertation are in favour of initiating the preliminary examination. Supervisors must carefully ensure the quality of the manuscript before initiating the preliminary examination.  The dissertation manuscript submitted for preliminary examination must be finished and impeccable in language.

As a rule, postgraduate studies in accordance with the postgraduate study plan must be completed and registered before initiating the preliminary examination.

The dissertation manuscript is submitted as one complete copy to the School (e.g. in a folder) and electronically as one pdf file.

All theses at the University of Vaasa are subject to an electronic check using a plagiarism recognition service before the work can be approved. The postgraduate student must take his/her thesis for review by the plagiarism recognition programme at the latest at the stage when the thesis is to be submitted for preliminary examination. The preliminary examiners are informed that they may have access to the report produced by the programme if they so wish. Dissertation examinations are performed in such a way that the texts are stored as reference material in the database. The student agrees on the storage of the manuscript in the Turnitin plagiarism recognition system in more detail with his/her supervisor.

An examination permit is granted on the basis of preliminary examination statements, and a public examination will only take place once the examination permit has been granted.

Preliminary examiners

The School's management group appoints at least two preliminary examiners for the dissertation manuscript after consulting the supervisors. The preliminary examiners must come from outside the university. Preliminary examiners must have the qualification of a professor or docent or a doctoral degree and special expertise as well as active research activities in the field of the dissertation.

The provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act (434/2003, sections 27–28) apply to disqualification of dissertation preliminary examiners. In addition to expertise, the selection of preliminary examiners should take into account their independence in relation to the work under review. The supervisor of the dissertation cannot act as a preliminary examiner. The preliminary examiner must not have a relationship to the author of the dissertation or the dissertation or any other person that puts into question his or her impartiality. Persons excluded from acting as preliminary examiners include the following:

  • a person who is a co-author of one of the sub-publications of the dissertation,
  • a person who has ongoing research collaboration with the author of the dissertation or had such collaboration during the dissertation project,
  • a person who has close research collaboration (joint publications, joint projects) with the supervisor of the dissertation during the three years preceding the examination of the dissertation,
  • a close relative of the author of the dissertation,
  • an immediate supervisor or subordinate of the author or supervisor of the dissertation.

The author of the dissertation is given the opportunity to comment on the possible disqualification of the preliminary examiners or any other reason endangering impartiality before the School's decision on the matter.

Duties of preliminary examiners

The task of preliminary examiners is to determine in their statement whether the work meets the quality requirements generally set for a dissertation in the Degree Decree (Government Decree amending Government Decree on University Degrees 1039/2013, section 21).

In the evaluation, the preliminary examiner must pay attention to the following evaluation criteria:

  1. Choice of topic, setting the research problem and positioning the research in scientific and social debate
  2. Theoretical mastery, conceptual clarity and conceptual-theoretical development work of topic
  3. Complexity of research methods used and their management, as well as quality of research material
  4. Management of research results and their critical evaluation
  5. Adherence to good scientific practice and ethically sustainable principles
  6. Critical approach and maturity of reflection
  7. Demonstrated personal input and independent work
  8. Consistency, clarity of presentation and correctness of language of dissertation
  9. Ability to create new scientific knowledge
  10. (Opponent: doctoral candidate's ability to defend his/her dissertation at public examination)

The preliminary examination statement of a compilation dissertation must assess whether the articles/manuscripts and the summary form a whole that can be defended as a dissertation. The articles must also be evaluated on their content, even if they have previously appeared in scientific publications that follow the evaluation procedure. Each article must be stated on separately in the preliminary examination statement. A compilation dissertation must, as a whole, have the scientific value required of a dissertation.

The preliminary examiners must give their statement within two months of receiving a formal request for a statement. The School may, for justified reasons, grant additional time to the preliminary examiners.

In their statement, the preliminary examiners may make suggestions for corrections and improvements to the manuscript. However, the statement cannot be conditional. Preliminary examiners propose either granting or refusing an examination permit. Preliminary examiners may also give a joint statement.

The Doctoral Programme in Technical Sciences also asks the preliminary examiner to assess whether, in his or her view, the research is among the best in the field (top 15%).

If necessary, the preliminary examiner may discuss reviewing some aspects of the dissertation with the supervisor of the dissertation. The preliminary examiner must not start supervising the student's dissertation. If there are correction needs, the preliminary examiner presents in his or her statement additions, corrections, deletions, etc. to the dissertation (monograph) or the summary part of the dissertation (compilation dissertation). At the end of the statement, the preliminary examiner must clearly state his or her view on the granting of an examination permit. Only minor, stylistic corrections may be submitted directly by the preliminary examiner to the doctoral candidate, but this should also be mentioned in the statement addressed to the School concerned.

The statements of preliminary examiners received by the School are forwarded to the author of the dissertation. The author is given the opportunity to respond to the statements of the preliminary examiners. The School's management group decides on the examination permit on the basis of the preliminary examination statements.

Negative preliminary examination statement

A negative statement usually results in the management group's decision to suspend the preliminary examination at the request of the postgraduate student. If the preliminary examination procedure lapses for the above reason, or if the School does not grant an examination permit, the postgraduate student may request a new preliminary examination when corrections or other changes referred to in the negative statement have been made to the dissertation. The supervisors of the work must support the resumption of the preliminary examination procedure.

If the statements of the preliminary examiners contradict each other so that one preliminary examiner supports granting the examination permit and the other proposes to refuse it, the School may, for a justified reason, and at the request of the supervisors, appoint a third preliminary examiner. The School decides on the matter based on the preliminary examination statements and the doctoral candidate's response to them.

If the doctoral candidate would like to publish the research in the scientific publication series of the University of Vaasa, the candidate shall request in writing to the Publication Committee for permission to publish the research in the Acta Wasaensia series. In matters related to publication please contact julkaisut@uwasa.fi

The publication process is faster if the research is made according to the University publication seriesguidelines from the very beginning. It should be noted that at least six weeks must be reserved for the printing process and public display of the print-ready manuscript.

A separate title page shall be enclosed in the doctoral dissertation. The page shall contain information about the time and place of the public defence of the doctoral dissertation, as well as state that the dissertation is suggested to be examined in public under the permission of the school. The title page is prepared by the Publications Secretary.

The doctoral dissertation shall be put in public display, i.e. “nailed”, at least 10 days before the public defence of the doctoral dissertation. The timing of the nailing is agreed with the doctoral candidate, Custos and Dean.

The research and its central results will be made available to the general public by publishing a press release. The doctoral candidate shall submit a drafted text for the press release and a photograph at least two weeks before the public defence of the doctoral dissertation to julkaisut@uwasa.fi. The press release and the photo will be published in the newspapers and university web pages and newshub.

Distribution of the doctoral dissertation

The doctoral dissertation shall be put in public display, i.e. “nailed”, at least 10 days before the public defence of the doctoral dissertation. The timing of the nailing is agreed with the doctoral candidate, custos and dean. Doctoral candicate gives/posts the signatured doctoral dissertations usually in the same day. Copies are in the Information desk in Tervahovi.

Doctoral candidate takes care of the following distribution:

  1. Rector (room KO206 in Konttori), book a time from the rector's assistant for personal visit.
  2. Dean of the Faculty
  3. Opponent/-s (pdf-version as soon as possible and hard copy right after it is out of the printing house)
  4. Custos
  5. Pre-examinars
  6. Professors and doctoral students in your own major as agreed 
  7. Others, discuss with your supervisor

Other members of the university can download their own copy of the doctoral dissertation in electronic format. (Dissertations after 1.9.2016)

Doctoral candidate gets 20 copies to him/herself.

Merja Kallio

Merja Kallio

Information Services Advisor
Tritonia L208
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With the dissertation announcement, we would like to share your research and its central results with the public and thus make the research done at the University accessible. Therefore, doctoral candidates are asked to write about their results as clearly as possible for a general audience and to send it by email to the University’s Communications Unit (viestinta@uwasa.fi) two weeks before the public defense of a doctoral thesis.

The Communications Unit will edit the announcement and return a draft by email to the candidate for possible further comments. The University’s website includes examples of typical Announcements.

The following instructions should be taken into account when writing the research abstract for an Announcement of Doctoral Candidate Defense:

  • Provide an interesting and inviting title. The announcement title does not need to be the same as the dissertation title.
  • Begin by telling your main results or conclusions and where or how they can be implemented. What new information has this particular research brought about? At the end of the announcement, you may explain the research process, target audience, and research methods.
  • What observations and conclusion can be drawn from the results?
  • Write as clearly and generally as possible. Use short sentences. It is good to explain foreign or scientific terms for readers who might not be familiar with the topic.
  • Subheadings parse the whole and sustain interest.
  • The Dissertation Announcement will be drafted and published in Finnish. Please ask your colleagues in the department to translate the text into Finnish for you. Do not use a program for the translation.
  • Additionally, the Announcement can be published in Swedish, especially if the dissertation is written in that language.

The following information is necessary for the Dissertation Announcement

Candidate’s personal data

  • Last name(s)
  • First name(s)

It is important to distinguish the difference between first and last name as every country has its own traditions in naming.

  • Place of birth (including country, if not Finland)
  • Year of birth
  • Place of residence
  • Telephone and email (home, work, and how available during the week of the defense)


  • High school examination, school and year of graduation
  • Academic degrees, institutions and years of graduation

Work Experience

  • Most notable positions held (work title, workplace, years in work)
  • Present position and workplace

The Defense

  • School, on whose recommendation the defense takes place
  • Place
  • Date
  • Time
  • Opponent(s)
  • University or other institution the opponent represents
  • Presiding Custos


  • Academic discipline
  • Title of the dissertation
  • Finnish title of the dissertation
  • Possible title of a third-language abstract
  • Number of pages in publication
  • Publication series

Research abstract

  • 1 to 2 sheets (see instructions above)
  • If you so wish, you may include the research abstract for the use of the Communications unit. This is not obligatory.

Press release and announcement on university website

The Announcement of Doctoral Candidate Defense will be sent to the media outlets active in the province of Ostrobothnia, to the main media in the capital region, and to electronic media. Depending on the topic of the research, the Announcement will also be sent to national media covering technology and the economy. Please let us know if you would also like the Announcement to be sent to the local papers in your home region or to trade journals in your field (in Finland). If necessary, we will help you in identifying suitable media outlets.

The Announcement will be sent to the media and published on the University’s website approximately five days before the Defense. Preferably, the candidate should be available in the week of the Conferral and be prepared to answer possible interview requests by journalists.


For the media and for the university journal Vaasan yliopistolehti Vox Cordis, we will need a good quality photograph (headshot only) of the candidate. The photograph can be sent to the University’s Communications Unit as a high resolution (minimum 200dbi) file by email. The photograph is required only for the above mentioned purposes and will not be used otherwise.

Publishing Information

The Communications Unit of the University sends an Announcement of Doctoral Candidate Defense to the media. The Announcement contains information about the date and time of the dissertation, educational background of the doctoral candidate, and research abstract. A short version of the Announcement will also be published in the university journal.

Thank you for your co-operation!

The School's management group appoints one or two opponents to examine the dissertation and a custos to act as the supervisor of the public examination. The opponent must have at least the qualification of a docent or equivalent scientific merits.

As a rule, an expert who has acted as a preliminary examiner in the Doctoral Programme in Technical Sciences will not be appointed as an opponent, but three external and impartial experts must be involved in the dissertation evaluation process. If a preliminary examiner also acts as an opponent, two opponents must be appointed for the public examination.

The provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act (434/2003, sections 27–28) apply to disqualification of opponents. Opponents are subject to the same principles of disqualification as preliminary examiners. The author of the dissertation is given the opportunity to comment on the possible disqualification of the opponent or any other reason endangering impartiality before the decision of the School's management group.

The custos is usually the supervisor responsible for the work or a professor of the University of Vaasa or a person employed by the University of Vaasa who has the qualification of a docent. Emerita/emeritus professor at the University of Vaasa may also serve as the custos , if agreed in an emerita-/emeritus agreement.  The custos chairs and supervises the public examination. The custos is also responsible for familiarising the opponent with the guidelines for public examinations, as well as with the evaluation criteria and grading scale for dissertations.

Within 14 days of the public examination, the opponent must give his or her written statement on the dissertation. The statement must include a reasoned evaluation of the scientific value of the dissertation and whether it is fit for purpose, as well as the defence of the dissertation. The opponent also proposes a grade for the dissertation.

Dissertations at the University of Vaasa are graded 'Pass with Distinction', 'Pass' or 'Fail'. The opponent's statement and grade proposal must be based on the evaluation criteria and rubrics for dissertations.

The author of the dissertation is given the opportunity to respond to the opponent's statement.

The School's management group decides on the approval and grading of the dissertation.

A person dissatisfied with the evaluation of a dissertation may make a request for rectification to the university's Council of Research and Education within 14 days of notification of the decision.


The public defence of a doctoral dissertation is a public event arranged by the school. Academic traditions shall be followed in the dissertation proceedings.

After the permission for the public defence of a doctoral dissertation has been granted, the doctoral candidate should discuss the timing of the public defence with the Custos and Opponent. 

The doctoral candidate shall be actively involved in the preparations of the public defence. The personnel of the Graduate School will help e.g. by booking a room for the public defence and refreshments to the room. The Gradueate  School personnel will also coordinate booking the trips and accommodation for the Opponent, if necessary.

Doctoral dissertations at the University of Vaasa can be held at the University of Vaasa campus or in the premises of Seinäjoki and Kokkola University Centers.

The public defences are streamed online to the public. The public defence can be followed either remotely online or on site. As a rule, the custos, the doctoral candidate and the opponent are in the same place, so that the occasion can be organized smoothly and solemnly. When the situation demands, any of the key people can participate in the event by remote arrangements.

Online arrangements for public defences are supported by the organizing party's IT support. The environment of the defence must be organized so that the event is solemn. Technical testing will be carried out with the support of the organizer’s specialists.

The technical testing will be carried out in a good time before the occasion so that the technical challenges are to be removed beforehand. Testing should be carried out on the equipment and facilities that will be used in the actual defence.

Public defences of the University of Vaasa are organized mainly in auditoriums Nissi (about 90 people, Tritonia) and Wolff (about 250 people), which are suitable in terms of size and technology for public defences. Also other lecture rooms at the University can be used for public defences. The doctoral candidates should familiarize themselves with the auditorium and especially with the technology; for guidance, please contact the Custodians and the IT department.

The doctoral candidate is responsible for organizing the coffee after the public defence. The School will take care of reasonable costs up till about 30 people. Coffee and cake are usually served after the public defence. Coffee and cake may be ordered from campus restauturant.

In accordance with the academic tradition, a post-doctoral party Karonkka in honour of the Opponent shall be organized in the evening after the public defence. In addition to the Opponent and Custos, the doctoral candidate usually invites also relatives, friends, and colleagues to the Karonkka party. The doctoral candidate is responsible for booking the room for the Karonkka party and for other arrangements.

Dress code

The choice of clothing shall be agreed upon with the Custos. The clothes of the Respondent, the Custos, and the Opponent should be similar. The Respondent, Custos and Opponent wear tails and a dark waistcoat (or uniform) without medals, or alternatively a dark suit. A female Respondent usually wears a black long-sleeved dress, which means either a jacket and skirt or a little black dress that is not too low-cut. The opponents can wear the academic outfit of the university they represent.

The traditional dress code in academic ceremonies is dark. Today, in proceedings a clean, appropriate dress will suffice. The audience should be in the auditorium in time, at least 15 minutes before the ceremony begins. The academic quarter is meant for settling down and concentrating before the event. People should avoid entering and leaving the auditorium at least during the Respondent’s opening speech and the Opponent’s opening report. You may not enter the auditorium during the proceedings.

The Dissertation Proceedings

1. The participants enter the auditorium in the following order: the Respondent, the Custos, the Opponent(s)

2. The Custos and the Opponents will carry their doctor’s hat when entering and leaving the auditorium. For the time of the proceedings the hat will be put on a table, the lyre facing the audience.

3. When everyone is seated, the Custos opens the dissertation proceedings with the words: “As the Custos appointed by the Management Group of the School of ……. of the University of Vaasa, I declare the proceedings open”.
The Custos may present the Opponent and briefly describe the dissertation proceedings to the audience.

4. The Respondent stands to make his/her lectio praecursoria, which should not exceed 20 minutes. The lectio starts with the words “Mr./Mrs. Custos, Mr./Mrs. Opponent, Ladies and Gentlemen”

5. After the opening lecture, the Respondent says: “Professor (Dr.)…, would you, as the Opponent appointed by the Management Gourp of the School of … of the University of Vaasa, present the comments and critique on my dissertation”

6. The Opponent stands and briefly reports on the status and importance of the topic field in science and on other similar issues of a general nature. After the report the Respondent and the
Opponent take their seats.

7. In the first part of the assessment, the Opponent pays particular attention to the method and to general questions after which a detailed appraisal follows.

8. The public defence of a dissertation usually takes approximately 2-2½ hours. The Opponent may not take more than four hours for his/her assessment so as to allow time for questions from other possible opponents. If the examination of the thesis takes a long time, the
Custos may adjourn proceedings for a short time.

9. When the examination of the thesis is complete, both Opponent and Respondent stand while the Opponent makes his/her final appraisal.

10. The Respondent remains standing to offer his/her thanks to the Opponent.

11. The Respondent then turns to the audience with the following words: "Would those of you among this distinguished audience who have questions or comments to make on my dissertation kindly request the Custos leave to speak."

12. The Custos as chairman then throws the proceedings open to the floor and sees to it that the
Respondent has the opportunity of answering every remark and that the other opponents do not stray from the point.

13. It is the Custos who closes the proceedings. She/he rises and says: "The discussion is closed."

The cost of dissertation proceedings - who pays?

Statements of the pre-examiners School
Language check

The Graduate School to those parts of the dissertation which have not been previously language checked


In the University’s Acta Wasaensia series University
Commercial /self-publishing Agreed separately
Rent for the room School
Trips, accommodation and fee of the opponent School
Clothes rent:  
Doctoral candidate Doctoral candidate
Opponent School
Refreshments School
Photographing/video Doctoral candidate
Coffee after dissertation School, for up to about 30 people
Karonkka Doctoral candidate

Specialist in the Graduate School Juuli Honko (juuli.honko@uwasa.fi)

Publication process, Merja Kallio and Riikka Kalmi julkaisut@uwasa.fi.

Juuli Honko

Juuli Honko

Specialist in Doctoral Studies
University Services, Research Services and Graduate School
Torni 5. krs
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Riikka Kalmi

Riikka Kalmi

Science Communications Specialist
University Services, Communications, Brand and Marketing
Torni 2. krs
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Merja Kallio

Merja Kallio

Information Services Advisor
Tritonia L208
Open profile page

Dissertation karonkka is an old academic tradition. It is organized in honor of the Opponent. In karonkka, the Respondent also has the opportunity to thank her/his teachers, instructor and supporters for the help in different stages of the dissertation work. Karonkka is not a family festivity, although in addition to spouse, some close adult friends or relatives may be invited.

Karonkka party

Originally, invitation to karonkka was given after the Opponent, in the end of the public examination, announced to propose the faculty to accept the dissertation. Because today the organization of karonkka takes more time, it is customary to the candidate to ask the opponent in suitable moment if the organization of karonkka could be started. Therefore, invitations are sent beforehand and the invited may state in the public dissertation whether the invitation is still valid.

Usually those are invited to karonkka who have directly contributed to the making of the dissertation and graduation. In any case, the Opponent(s) and the Custos are invited. The additional opponents, that is, the persons who ask questions or make comments at the public examination, will be invited to karonkka. Traditionally, these additional opponents decline from the invitation.

In addition to time and place, also dress code must be given in the invitation. Usually this is “dark suit or dress”.

Dress code

The dress code at karonkka usually is dark suit or dress. For men, this means a tail coat with a white waistcoat (or black if there are no women present) and a white handkerchief in the breast pocket. Shoes can either be regular black or patent leather shoes. Military uniform, national costume or clerical clothing may be worn instead of jacket. A dark dress is considered as an alternative for an evening dress.

The lady’s dress depends on the man’s dress: a man with dark suit has an avec with a dark dress. Female respondent, like the lady of the man with a dark suit, wears a long dress that is either black or other suitable color. The dress may be open on top or without shoulder straps, but then at the banquet table you should wear a jacket or shawl. In case the man has a dark suit, the lady should wear a short evening dress.

Seating arrangements

The seating arrangements are determined by how many participants there are in karonkka. The table can also be long, and the doctoral candidate would then sit at the end or in the middle, or it can be in the form of T, an open square, or an E.

In any case, the opponent is seated in place of honor immediately to the right of the doctoral candidate. The Custos is seated to the left of the doctoral candidate. If there are only male participants, the seating order is determined by the doctoral candidate who considers the participants’ academic achievements and other characteristics.

If the doctoral candidate is male and his wife participates, the order is the same as above but the wife is seated next to the opponent as his lady. If the doctoral candidate is female and her husband is present, he does not perform as the host of the evening but as relative and is usually seated far from the doctoral candidate.


The doctoral candidate offers food, drinks, and possibly other forms of entertainment at karonkka. At first, the doctoral candidate welcomes all those present before dinner is served.

Speeches are made after the dinner and before coffee. The candidate begins by thanking the Opponent and the Custos first and then those who the candidate considers to have directly helped in making of the doctoral dissertation. The more personal relationship the candidate has with the person she/he thanks, the later the person is thanked. Therefore, spouse is addressed last. At karonkka, the candidate does not thank any other relative than spouse or other very close person.

The candidate’s speeches should be short and made without reading from a paper. When the candidate toasts the addressed person or when the addressee toasts in her/his speech to congratulate the candidate, others will not toast.

Those who have been addressed in the speeches will give their speeches in the same order as they have been addressed, meaning that the Opponent begins and the spouse is the last. Also these speeches should be last.


Immediately after the actual karonkka can the candidate have a so-called post-karonkka, where the candidate may invite more of her/his relatives and friends. Post-karonkka is not formal and there is no strict dress code. Also the programme can be free. Post-karonkka may include associating, cold supper, music and dancing.