Extent of the doctoral dissertation

The aim of the doctoral candidates is to complete their degree in four years of full-time study, during which they complete the required doctoral studies and write a doctoral dissertation to be examined. For this goal to be feasible, the workload of the degree shall be proportionate to the objective duration of studies. This shall be taken into account in the course of the supervision of the doctoral candidate.

The doctoral degree, including a doctoral dissertation, should be completed in four years of full-time study. This is the goal of Aalto University. During this time the student completes the required  theoretical studies and writes a doctoral dissertation, which is examined by pre-examiners and by opponent at public defence. The workload of the degree should be proportionate to this goal and this should be borne in mind in the course of the supervision process.

General quality requirements for doctoral dissertations

  • A doctoral dissertation shall contain new scientific knowledge in the field it represents. In the field of art and design, the doctoral dissertation may also contain new methods of artistic creation or products or transactions, which fulfil high artistic demands.
  • The doctoral dissertation must present the new results clearly and in a manner which meets the criteria set for scientific texts.
  • The independent contribution to the research or artistic production shall be sufficient and clearly demonstrable.
  • The research methods used shall fulfil the criteria set for scientific or art-based research.
  • A doctoral dissertation shall conform to the principles of responsible conduct of research and adhere to ethically sustainable principles.
  • CHEM School's instructions for the doctoral dissertations

Formats and contents of the doctoral dissertation

Schools may approve doctoral dissertations in the forms described below. Schools take the decision on the acceptable formats of dissertations in the school and give further guidelines on the requirements for doctoral dissertations as needed. In the field of art and design, a doctoral dissertation may also include other products than written products.

1 A single research piece or a monograph

A monographis a coherent writing based on the work of the doctoral candidate and written by the candidate. The monograph may contain references to previous works by the doctoral candidate on the same topic.

The doctoral dissertation describes the research problem, the research goals, the used methods and results, and presents a summary of the key findings. The summary shall assess the significance of the study for the discipline.

2 Article-based doctoral dissertation

An article-based doctoral dissertation consists of a set of publications on a related set of problems, and a summary of the findings. The research plan is to be made in a way that makes it possible to complete the doctoral degree in four years of full-time study.

The articles included in the doctoral dissertation are published or submitted for publication in an acknowledged peer-reviewed forum in the discipline (for example a scientific publication series, conference proceedings or other work). Articles not yet accepted for publication can also be included in the doctoral dissertation. The number of publications required for the dissertation depends on their extent, scientific significance and quality as well as on the weight of the independent contribution of the doctoral candidate to the publications.

The articles may also include co-authored publications if the author's independent contribution to them can be demonstrated. An article can be included in several dissertations if the separate contribution of the doctoral candidate can be demonstrated. In the field of art and design, a doctoral dissertation may also include joint productions if the doctoral candidate has made an independent contribution to them.

The summary of the article-based doctoral dissertation is an independent entity, which provides an overview of the dissertation contents. The summary shall describe the research problem, research goals and methods, and presents a summary of the key findings. The summary shall assess the significance of the study for the discipline. The summary shall contain a list of the publications included in the thesis and describe the independent contribution of the candidate in each publication separately.

3. Essay-based doctoral dissertation

An essay-based doctoral dissertation consists of scientific essays and a summary. The essays and the summary shall deal with a single research problem or set of problems so that, when viewed as a whole, the independent contribution of the author meets the requirements set for a doctoral dissertation.

When planning the set of essays one has to bear in mind that it has to be possible to complete the doctoral degree in four years of full-time study. Each of the essays shall contain new results and viewpoints, and shall primarily be based on independent research by the author, but also collaboratively written essays may be accepted as part of the doctoral dissertation if the independent contribution of the author may be clearly demonstrated.

The number of essays required depends on their extent, scientific significance and quality as well as on the weight of the independent contribution of the author to the essays.

The summary describes the research problem, research goals and methods, and presents a summary of the key findings. The summary shall assess the significance of the study for the discipline. The summary contains a description of the independent contribution of the author in each of the essays.

Open access to the doctoral dissertations of Aalto University

The doctoral dissertations of Aalto University are published in compliance with the Aalto University open access principle http://libguides.aalto.fi/content.php?pid=624816&sid=5317294

Open access to doctoral dissertations is made possible by the authors depositing their work in the open access repository maintained by Aalto, Aaltodoc: https://aaltodoc.aalto.fi/handle/123456789/5.


The supervising professor may delegate to the thesis advisor some of the duties listed below, or act himself/herself as a thesis advisor. S/he negotiates with the supervisor/s about the division of work in the supervisory process. Guidelines approved by the Aalto University academic affairs committee give detailed information of the duties and responsibilities between the supervising professor and the doctoral candidate. At Aalto University the both parties together with the thesis instructor(s) use the supervision plan as a tool to discuss and to agree on the outlines of the supervision process. As necessary, the plan may be updated at the initiative of the involved parties.

When the dissertation manuscript of the doctoral dissertation is complete, it may only be submitted for preliminary examination after the supervising professor has confirmed that the manuscript is  ready for preliminary examination. The supervising professor makes sure that the doctoral candidate makes the necessary corrections proposed to the doctoral dissertation manuscript by the  preliminary examiner.

The supervising professor advices the doctoral candidate in career planning, and ensures that the doctoral studies and research process equip him/her with not only research skills but also    transferable skills.

Thesis advisor(s)

Basic requirement for all thesis advisors is the doctoral degree certificate. At the School of Chemical Engineering, doctoral candidate has typically of 1-3 thesis advisor(s). It’s strongly recommended that there is one thesis advisor from each participating organization or less. If needed, the supervising professor and Committee can reduce the number of thesis advisors.

Doctoral student’s role

Beginning the doctoral studies means committing oneself to long-term and goal-oriented study and research. The doctoral candidate has a right to study in accordance with the personal study plan and to receive knowledgeable guidance in his/her studies on a regular basis.

In return for such guidance, the doctoral candidate commits himself/herself to studying in accordance with the confirmed study plan and the associated research proposal. Eligibility for supervision also requires enrolling as an attending student at the university. In addition, the doctoral candidate commits to acting in compliance with the guidelines of the National Advisory Board on Research Ethics on good scientific practice.

What we expect from the doctoral student:

  • The student should familiarise him/herself with the ethical principles of scientific research and act in compliance with good scientific practice in his/her research;
  • The student should carry out research independently and in a self-directed manner in accordance with the research proposal and within the limits of the research project, and actively publishing results in the  publication forums of the  field;
    In addition, the student is expected to:
  • Provide  teaching related to the research field and  to communicate the results of his/her research to  others;
  • Aim at, together with the supervising  professor, securing funding for  the doctoral studies;
  • Report on the progress of the research to the supervising professor and the advisory board on a regular basis;
  • Notfy the supervising professor of any changes necessary to the study plan, or of any problems with following the research plan and
  • Annually enroll at the university.

Guidelines for the advisory groups for doctoral students

All new full-time doctoral students in Aalto Doctoral Programme in Chemical Technology will have an advisory group.

Please find below instructions by the Doctoral Programme Committee (1/2016) of Aalto University School of Chemical Engineering (Aalto CHEM) for evaluating the study progress of the doctoral students, and guidelines for the advisory group. / Kemian tekniikan tohtorinkoulutusneuvoston (TKN 1/2016) ohje tohtoriohjelman tohtoriopiskelijoiden opintojen etenemisen seurantaan sekä seurantaryhmän toimintaan.

Three or 3.5 years of doctoral research and studies constitute the groundwork for preparing a dissertation at Aalto University. In addition, has Aalto CHEM has specific requirements for a doctoral dissertation. The supervising professor should clearly communicate and agree these issues with the student.

Evaluation timelines 

  • Each full-time doctoral student has an advisory group
  • Advisory group evaluation must be done at least four (4) times during doctoral studies
  • 1st meeting with the advisory group at 9-12 months of doc. studies - plans for the 1st publication, update of theory studies, transferable skills
  • 2nd meeting at 16-19* months of doc. studies – evaluation of progress, status of the 1st publication, plans for the 2nd publ. and update of a research plan. Discussion of transferable skills, research exchange prospects, networking within research etc.
  • 3rd meeting at 25-30 months of doc. studies – revision of the finalizing plan, plans for pre-examination, career planning, building more network, finanzing etc.
  • 4th meeting at 36-40 months of doc. studies with the advisory group - detailed plans for pre-examination, support for the career planning, etc.
  • Advisory groups meetings will be continued until the manuscript has been submitted for the pre-examination.

*Students with Aalto CHEM funded position (2+2 years) must have their advisory group meeting no later than the September 15th of their second funding year.

Advisory group members and their roles

  • Supervising professor
  • 1-2 reseacher members from Aalto schools or outside of Aalto University or industry partner, no direct link to the doctoral students research work
  • 1-3 thesis advisors, max. one (1) from each participating organization.
  • All doctoral programme committee members have right to attend these advisory group meetings.
  • Administrative member (study officer for doctoral studies)
  • Doctoral student will organize and schedule these meetings. The members will be provided with meeting material, including short report of progress of work and future plans together with timelines for publications and thesis writing.  The meeting materials are confidential and should not be given to third parties without professor's and student's permission.
  • Doctoral student submits the evaluated, revised report from each advisory group meeting to the Doctoral Programme Committee. Specific technical instructions for electronic submission of meeting reports will be given below.
  • Advisory group can accept, accept after revision or reject the suggested timeline and plans for finalizing the dissertation work.

Responsibilities of the doctoral student and the supervising professor

  • The student must follow the research plan or inform if essential changes are needed
  • The student may also propose advisory group members
  • The student must organize the meetings and attend all the advisory group meetings

  • The student and supervising professor must ensure that the minutes of meetings from the advisory group meetings are submitted to the eDuuni for Doctoral Programme Committee. The minutes include comments for possible proposed changes to the studies and/or research, detailed timeline and comments related to it, update of progress between meetings, status of publications and dissertation manuscript.

eDuuni work space and student folders must be used for the advisory group materials and distribution of them. Study office will create work folder for each doctoral student participating the advisory group activities.

Use your own link to log in to eduuni workspace. You can get your own link from study affairs secretary of the doctoral programme. If you don’t have the link, please send a request email to doctoral-chem(at)aalto.fi

Detailed instructions for the user of eDuuni work space for Aalto CHEM advisory group members.

Ethical instructions


Dissertation awards

Aalto University has award prizes for the best dissertations and for young graduates.

Also some national level organizations like TEK, Puuinsinöörien yhdistys and Finnish Chemical Society have annual award contests.