Requirements for doctoral theses and procedure for publishing doctoral theses

Approved by Rector's directive No 52 of 6 November 2020

In force from: 01.01.2021

This procedure shall apply to students enrolled in doctoral studies on 1 January 2021 or later from entry into force.

Clause 1 of this procedure shall apply to students enrolled in doctoral studies before 1 January 2021 from the academic year 2024/2025 and clauses 2 and 3 from 1 January 2021. Clause 1 of Rector's directive No 111 of 25 October 2017 shall apply until the end of the academic year 2023/2024.

Clause 1 of this procedure shall apply to students defending a doctoral thesis as an external student from 1 January 2022. Clause 1 of Rector's directive No 111 of 25 October 2017 shall apply until 31. December 2021.

1. General provisions

1.1 This procedure lays down the requirements for doctoral theses and regulates making doctoral thesis available to the public and distribution thereof within the meaning of the Copyright Act (hereinafter referred to as “publication”) at Tallinn University of Technology (hereinafter referred to as “the university”).

1.2 A doctoral thesis is an independent research paper that presents a novel solution to a significant problem in the research area of a doctoral study programme.

1.3 A doctoral thesis shall be written either:
1.3.1 based on research papers;
1.3.2 as a monograph;
1.3.3 as creative research.

1.4 As a rule, a doctoral thesis written based on research papers consists of three research papers and a summary binding the papers into a single whole and complying with the structure of a research paper. The PhD student must be the lead author of at least one of the research papers.

1.5 A research paper means a peer-reviewed research paper published in a journal indexed in the Scopus and/or Web of Science database(s).

1.6 The research papers need not have been published in print, but in this case there shall be an official confirmation on their acceptance for publication.

1.7 On the proposal of the attestation committee based on a well-considered decision of the Vice-Rector for Research, a doctoral thesis prepared based of research papers may consist of two research papers if the published research papers are internationally outstanding, i.e. the papers have been published in Q1 and/or Q2 journals in the field and the PhD student is the lead author of at least one of the papers.

1.8 Based on the dean’s decision, one research paper may be replaced by:

1.8.1 a patent granted in a country that has an examination system or under an international agreement;

1.8.2 a patent application if a favourable written opinion of the patent office who carried out the search with regard to patentability of the invention has been attached thereto, or

1.8.3 another applied solution (e.g. an engineering or software solution) that has been reviewed positively by two independent internationally recognized experts holding a PhD degree who have been selected by the programme director of the doctoral studies.

1.9 A doctoral thesis prepared as a monograph shall be published by an internationally recognized publishing house. A monograph may be published also in the collection of the university’s dissertations based on the decision of the Vice-Rector for Research, in which case the PhD student shall be the lead author of at least one of the research papers published in the field of the doctoral thesis in a journal specified in clause 1.5.

1.10 A doctoral thesis prepared as creative research consists of an extensive creative project or a series of related creative projects and a descriptive analysis to explain the projects. The published descriptive text of the thesis shall include the research question, objectives, scientific novelty, methodology and findings related with the creative research. A creative research shall be peer-reviewed by two independent internationally recognized experts selected by the programme director of doctoral studies. Preparing a doctoral thesis as creative research shall be agreed on upon starting the PhD thesis project. A doctoral thesis can be prepared as creative research in the programme of Building and Civil Engineering and Architecture in the field of Architecture and Building.

2. Writing a doctoral thesis

2.1 A doctoral thesis shall be written in English. A thesis may also be written in another language in justified cases and by the dean’s decision.

2.2 A doctoral thesis shall be prepared on the doctoral thesis template created based on this directive and made available on the intranet by the Research Administration Office. The Research Administration Office shall publish the user guide of the doctoral thesis template on the intranet.

2.3 The front and back covers shall be added in the university’s Press House (hereinafter referred to as “Press House”). Samples of the front and back cover of a thesis are available on the intranet.

2.4 The structure of a doctoral thesis is, as a rule, as follows;
2.4.1 title pages;
2.4.2 Contents;
2.4.3 List of Publications;
2.4.4 Author’s Contribution to the Publications;
2.4.5 Introduction;
2.4.6 if necessary, Abbreviations, Terms, Symbols;
2.4.7 body text of the thesis;
2.4.8 List of Figures;
2.4.9 List of Tables;
2.4.10 References;
2.4.11 Acknowledgements;
2.4.12 Abstract in Estonian and English;
2.4.13 Graphical Abstract;
2.4.14 Appendix;
2.4.15 Curriculum vitae in English and Estonian.

2.5 The order of the doctoral thesis components can be changed if this is justified, taking into account the traditions in that particular field of science.

2.6 A doctoral thesis has two title pages. The first title page together with the information on its reverse side shall be written in the language of the thesis, the second title page shall be written in another language (in case the thesis is in a foreign language, the title page shall be in Estonian).

2.7 The Press House shall mark the serial number of doctoral theses defended at the university on the title page.

2.8 In case a doctoral thesis
2.8.1 has been written based on a contract or a joint study programme at Tallinn University of Technology and at another university, reference to the other university shall be made in the author’s declaration;
2.8. 2 has been prepared or printed by using structural assistance funds, the structural assistance logo shall be printed on the reverse side of the title page.

2.9 Two ISSN numbers (International Standard Serial Number) and two ISBN numbers (International Standard Book Number – an international standard number assigned to a concrete book, whereas separate numbers are assigned to printed and electronic publications) shall be marked on the reverse side of the title page of a doctoral thesis. ISSN and ISBN numbers shall be issued by the Press House.

2.10 The body text of a doctoral thesis shall be divided into chapters by using up to three levels of headings. An Arabic numeral is added to a heading. If several levels of headings are used, the headings shall be numbered with reference to the numbers of the previous level headings. Each new chapter shall start on a new page. The annexed publications shall start from the right-hand page with an odd number.

2.11 The tables in a doctoral thesis shall be titled and figures shall be supplied with a caption and numbered either consecutively throughout the whole thesis or within each chapter. References to the tables and figures shall be provided in the doctoral thesis.

3. Publication of doctoral theses

3.1 Doctoral theses shall be published in print and electronically in the digital collection of the library unless otherwise laid down in this procedure.

3.2 An author’s contract shall be concluded between the author of a doctoral thesis and the university for use of the doctoral thesis (hereinafter referred to as “author’s contract”). By an author’s contract the author grants the university the right to publish the doctoral thesis. The text of an author’s contract is available on the website of the digital collection of the library.

3.3 Access to a doctoral thesis may be restricted if, according to the terms and conditions of a contract concerning the doctoral thesis topic, the doctoral thesis contains a state secret, trade secret or any other classified information. The dean decides on restricting access to the doctoral thesis based on a reasoned request of the author of the doctoral thesis. If a doctoral thesis contains a state secret, the person arranging personal data and state secret protection shall be involved in the decision-making process.

3.4 The library shall archive the doctoral thesis on a permanent basis. A doctoral thesis with restricted access (except doctoral theses containing a state secret classified as secret or top secret) shall be supplied with a notation “For internal use only” and shall be preserved in the closed storage facility of the library intended for such purpose. Doctoral theses containing a state secret classified as secret or top secret shall not be preserved at the university.

3.5 Not later than one month before the defence of a doctoral thesis, the author of the doctoral thesis shall submit to the Press House an electronic version of the manuscript of the doctoral thesis, whereto the following shall be attached:
3.5.1 scientific publications in separate files;
3.5.2 the defence order;
3.5.3 a standard format written order for publishing the doctoral thesis signed by the head of the department.

3.6 The Press House shall submit the electronic version of the doctoral thesis to the university’s library after receipt of the documents specified in clause 3.5 and in print after publication of the doctoral thesis. In the case of a doctoral thesis with restricted access, only the abstract of the doctoral thesis shall be submitted to the library. A doctoral thesis containing a state secret classified as secret or top secret shall not be submitted to the library and the doctoral thesis shall be returned to the author after the defence.

3.7 The library shall publish the electronic version of a doctoral thesis in the digital collection of the library, enter the required metadata and send the author’s contract to the doctoral student for signing. The printed version of a doctoral thesis shall be publicly available in the library at least in triplicate unless otherwise laid down in this procedure.

3.8 In order to publish information related to the defence of a doctoral thesis on the university’s websites, the doctoral student shall submit to the Research Administration Office a popular science summary (the maximum of 3000 characters) of the doctoral thesis (in the form of research news) in plain language in Estonian, which can be replaced by a 3-minute science video. The Research Administration Office shall arrange communication of information on the defence of the doctoral thesis on the university’s website with reference to the doctoral thesis or, in case of a doctoral thesis with restricted access, to its abstract. If a doctoral thesis contains a state secret, the person arranging personal data and state secret protection shall decide upon publication of the information related to the defence of each particular doctoral thesis.

3.9 If a defence of a doctoral thesis is cancelled, the structural unit organising the defence shall promptly notify the library and the Research Administration Office thereof and dissemination of information on the doctoral thesis will be immediately terminated.

3.10 The library shall add the doctoral thesis record in the electronic catalogue ESTER and after successful defence of the doctoral thesis shall add a link to the electronic version of the doctoral thesis in the record unless otherwise laid down in this procedure.