Faculty of Medicine: submitting the doctoral thesis

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This page provides detailed instructions to the doctoral researchers of the Faculty of Medicine on how to submit a doctoral dissertation for preliminary examination. Remember to first read the general instructions on the planning of the timetable and the preliminary examination aimed at all doctoral researchers at the University.

Should you have any questions on how to launch the preliminary examination process, you can always contact the doctoral student services of your home faculty.


Before launching the preliminary examination process

Before launching the preliminary examination process

  • Notify your supervisor well in advance of your intention to submit your dissertation for the preliminary examination, so that your supervisor can start thinking about the required experts.
  • Acquaint yourself with the instructions related to the preliminary examination application and prepare the attachments required in the application.
  • Prepare the manuscript for preliminary examination following the instructions given. Remember to take into account the detailed provisions by the Faculty of Medicine on the format and layout of the doctoral dissertation.

Update on 22 March 2022 The University of Helsinki does not recommend using employees of Russian or Belorussian universities as pre-examiners or opponents, or use them as scientific experts. For more information, please see University of Helsinki's updates on War in Ukraine.

Also take these into account:

  • Your right to pursue doctoral studies must be valid, and you must be registered as an attending student at the University throughout the examination process, all the way up to graduation.
  • The preliminary examination process is launched in two stages at the Faculty of Medicine. Once you have submitted the doctoral dissertation for preliminary examination, the Doctoral Committee monitoring the quality of doctoral dissertations will process the application for launching the preliminary examination process.  The recommendation of the Doctoral Committee and possible comments will be sent to you by email the day after the meeting. Only after this can the manuscript be submitted for checking in the Urkund plagiarism detection system and the launch of the preliminary examination submitted to the Faculty Council for a decision. At the Faculty of Medicine, the opponent details must also be disclosed when the preliminary examination is launched.
  • In addition to the general rules of impartiality, the Faculty of Medicine requires that the preliminary examiners must be from a different department, clinic or research programme than the dissertation supervisor and the doctoral candidate.
  • As of 1 March 2019, one or two faculty representatives will be appointed for the public examination at the discretion of the Faculty Council. The Council will decide on the matter when granting the permission to proceed to public examination, or should this not be possible, delegate the decision making to the Dean. At the Faculty of Medicine as a rule, with the introduction of this reformation, grade is proposed by the opponent and custos. If custos is also the supervisor, the custos will find a new faculty representative. Faculty representatives must be professors or docents of the University of Helsinki or members of the university's teaching and research staff with the academic qualifications of a docent. The faculty representative(s) must be well acquainted with the grading criteria and regulations related to the examination of doctoral theses in use at the University of Helsinki. At the Faculty of Medicine, the faculty representative is appointed in the preliminary examination form. Thus, in the future, doctoral candidates are to give information in the form of their preliminary examiners, opponent, custos, and faculty representative, whether it is the custos or someone else from the faculty.

Submitting a dissertation for preliminary examination

No later than ten days before the meeting of the Doctoral Committee (see timetables below), submit a scanned version of the below documents in pdf form (in one file) to the Faculty’s Doctoral Service: meilahti-phd@helsinki.fi

  • A proposal for the preliminary examiners and opponent (Complete an electronic form, print it and collect the required signatures. NB! The proposal for the opponent must also be included in the form, as well as name(s) of the faculty representative(s).) Please ensure that both the electronic form and the printed version of it have same information on them. If you change one, please change the other one as well. Please also ensure that you have the correct email addresses to the pre-examiners and the opponent. Include all names the expert you propose have published under. This makes it easier for the Doctoral Committee to check the principles of disqualification.
  • A report on the doctoral student’s own contribution to the doctoral dissertation, i.e., a collaboration report (More detailed instructions are available below.)
  • The author’s list of publications (all publications)
  • The registration number of the ethics committee and/or Animal Experiment Board statement (There is no need to provide a copy of the actual statement.)
  • A completed and signed preliminary examination application checklist.

In addition, submit a finalised manuscript with its component articles to Doctoral Student Services (meilahti-phd@helsinki.fi) in one PDF file using Funet FileSender. Never send the manuscript as an email attachment.

Report on the author’s contribution to the doctoral dissertation

In co-authored publications, the dissertation author must have a clearly definable independent contribution. With a view to ascertaining this, the researcher, the dissertation supervisor and possibly the advisory committee draw up as an appendix to the preliminary examination application a report on the researcher’s contribution to each co-authored publication. If the co-authored publication has been used in another dissertation, this must be mentioned in the report. The doctoral candidate should deliver the draft of the report on their contribution also to the other authors of the publication.

As a rule, an article can only be used in one dissertation, and at least half of the articles must only be used in the dissertation in question (Faculty Council decision 5 October 2004).

If one or more of the articles in the dissertation have been used as a part of a previously published dissertation, a notification of this must be included in the dissertation after the list of articles.

The dissertation author must submit the report to the Faculty at the same time as they submit the manuscript for preliminary examination, and later to the preliminary examiners and the opponent. The report may also be included in the summarising report or an article included in the dissertation.

Language revision

The Faculty recommends that any language revision is done only after the preliminary examination once the doctoral candidate has finalised the manuscript based on the feedback from the preliminary examiners. The main dissertation supervisor may decide to forego language revision.

Dissertation submission dates and meeting schedules of the Doctoral Committee

The preliminary examination application with its appendices must be submitted to the Faculty’s Doctoral Student Services no later than 10 days before the next meeting of the Doctoral Committee. The application must be submitted by 15.00 on the last submission day.

Please read the instructions carefully before submitting the materials and make sure that you have submitted all required documents. Please check that the scanned form and the form on E-lomake system have the same information. The documents are submitted in two separate pdf-files:

  1. Thesis manuscript (manuscript and articles together in the same pdf-file)
  2. The preliminary examination application with its appendices in one pdf-file.

ND! Deadlines are binding, all applications submitted after the deadline are automatically transferred to the next possible meeting.

Spring term 2023

Deadline for submitting
the manuscript (at 15.00 PM)
Doctoral committee
meeting dates
Faculty Council
meeting dates
Mon 2.1. Thu 12.1. Tue 21.1.
Mon 30.1. Thu 9.2. Tue 21.2.
Mon 27.2. Thu 9.3. Tue 21.3.
Mon 27.3. Wed 5.4. Tue 18.4.
Mon 24.4. Thu 4.5. Tue 16.5.
Mon 22.5. Thu 1.6. Tue 13.6.

Autumn term 2023

Deadline for submitting
the manuscript (at 15.00 PM)
Doctoral committee
meeting dates
Faculty Council
meeting dates
Tue 1.8. Thu 10.8 Tue 22.8.
Mon 28.8. Thu 7.9. Tue 19.9.
Mon 25.9. Thu 5.10. Tue 17.10.
Mon 30.10. Thu 9.11. Tue 21.11.
Mon 20.11. Thu 30.11. Tue 12.12.

The preliminary examiners will be given approximately two months from the Faculty Council meeting where the preliminary examination process was launched to give their statements. The below table gives the deadlines for preliminary examiner statements to ensure that the issue of granting permission to defend the dissertation in a public examination can be processed in the next possible Faculty Council meeting. If the statement does not arrive by the deadline, the processing of the issue will be delayed to the next meeting.

Deadlines for pre-examination statements, spring 2023

Deadline for
Faculty Council
meeting dates
Tue 10.1. Tue 24.1.
Tue 7.2. Tue 21.2.
Tue 7.3. Tue 21.3.
Tue 4.4. Tue 18.4.
Tue 2.5. Tue 16.5.
Tue 30.5. Tue 13.6.

Deadlines for pre-examination statements, autumn 2023

Deadline for
Faculty Council
meeting dates
Tue 8.8. Tue 22.8.
Tue 5.9. Tue 19.9.
Tue 3.10. Tue 17.10.
Tue 7.11. Tue 21.11.
Tue 28.11. Tue 12.12.

Do this after the Doctoral Committee has processed the application

Once the Doctoral Committee has recommended the launch of the preliminary examination process

  • Send the summarising report of the dissertation manuscript to the Faculty’s Doctoral Services’ Ouriginal (previously Urkund) email address: med-dissertation.hy@analyysi.urkund.fi. The manuscript must be sent to Ouriginal no later than a week before the Faculty Council meeting. It is recommended that the summarising report is sent to Ouriginal as a PDF file. Please sent the file via email, Ouriginal does not recognise files sent via Funet FileSender.
  • Ouriginal will send you a confirmation message of having received the document and a link through which you can forbid the permanent storage of the document in the Ouriginal database. If you forbid storing, the document will be deleted immediately after the check, and it will not be utilised, for example, in the plagiarism detection of future dissertations.
  • Ouriginal will analyse the manuscript in a secure manner and, after the check is complete, send a report to Meilahti Doctoral Student Services. Doctoral Services will send the report on to the preliminary examiners.
  • Further information on Ouriginal and, for example, supported file formats and your copyright to your dissertation is available in an informative article on Urkund.

Once the preliminary examination process has been launched by the Faculty council

  • You will be informed of the Faculty Council’s decision the day after the meeting by email.
  • After having received this information, submit the same dissertation material and a report of your own contribution in the same way as you did when submitting the preliminary examination application to the Faculty’s Doctoral Services.

Once the preliminary examiners are ready to give their statement

  • The preliminary examiners, either separately or together, submit their statement to the Faculty, in which they either
    a) Recommend granting permission to defend the dissertation in a public examination regarding the manuscript in its present form, or with minor revisions which the supervisor may approve, or
    b) Consider the deficiencies in the manuscript serious enough to not be able to recommend granting permission to defend the dissertation in a public examination. 
  • A preliminary examiner may also require corrections to be done to the manuscript, which the preliminary examiner will have to approve before giving a favourable statement. After approving the corrections, the preliminary examiner will give their final statement on the manuscript to the Faculty. The doctoral candidate must also submit a report on the revisions made to the other preliminary examiner. In this case, the preliminary examination process may last no more than six months. Even in this case, preliminary examiners are not considered equivalent to the supervisor.
  • Once the Faculty's doctoral student services have received positive statements from both pre-examiners, the permission to defend thesis will be discussed automatically in the next possible Faculty Council. The doctoral candidate does not have to do anything to start the process, the doctoral student services will take care of the process. The candidate will be informed about the matter about a week before the Faculty Council meeting.

The format and layout of doctoral dissertations at the Faculty of Medicine

As a rule, the dissertation’s component articles must have been published in well-regarded international refereed scientific publication series or journals, or must have been approved for publication with the exception of one article. One of the articles may be a systematic review comparable to an original publication.

The dissertation author must be careful with Open Access journals, since articles published in publication forums classified as suspicious (also called predator journals) will not be accepted as component articles of the dissertation. The annually updated Beall's list may serve as help in recognising questionable journals. (If the link does not work, you can easily find the list using a search engine.) More detailed guidelines for choosing the publication forum are available below.

If the summarising report of the dissertation reuses tables, images or graphs from the original publications of the doctoral candidate, it is the doctoral candidate’s responsibility to ensure from the publisher that the right to publish them as a part of the dissertation is in place. Many publishers announce on their websites that they allow the use of their publications in dissertations. The caption of the reused table, image or graph must include a note that the publisher allows their use, or that the right to use has been ascertained from the publisher, in the following manner: “Reproduced with permission from …”and a reference to the original publication. As for the original publications to be appended to the end of the dissertation, it has not been the practice to ask for separate reprinting permission, since they are presented in their original format.

The writer of the dissertation may also present unpublished research results in the summarising report. In this case, they must be referred to in an appropriate manner (“N. N. et al. unpublished results”). To avoid duplicate publication, unpublished results cannot be included in the summarising report as a segment equivalent in scope to an article, if the results are intended to be published later as an article.

Sections included in a monograph and article-based dissertation

  • A table of contents (including page numbers!)
  • In an article-based dissertation, component articles as an appendix
  • A bibliography
  • A summary, and the conclusions
  • A discussion in which the independent research results are critically contrasted with previous research
  • The research results and discussion
  • A report on the materials and methods used. The materials and methods used must be presented in written form, which may be supplemented by a table of the methods.
  • A statement of the research question
  • An analytical literature review, examining the development of information relating to the topic under discussion as well as the current situation
  • An introduction
  • A one- or two-page abstract of the dissertation and its key results. It should include the following: goals, main methods, the results achieved and conclusions drawn based on the results. A list of abbreviations
  • In an article-based dissertation, a list of the publications on which it is based


The cover and cover page of the dissertation must include at least the following information:

  • Name of the author
  • The fact that the work is a dissertation
  • Name of the faculty granting the permission to print
  • Research location(s)
  • Doctoral programme
  • Printing house
  • Printing location
  • Printing year
  • ISBN
  • Names of the supervisors
  • Names of the assessors
  • Phrase: The Faculty of Medicine uses the Urkund system (plagiarism recognition) to examine all doctoral dissertations.

ISBN codes are issued by the Finnish National ISBN Centre: tel. 02941 44329 or 02941 44312.

Doctoral candidates publishing in DSHealth publication series ‘Dissertationes Scholae Doctoralis Ad Sanitatem Investigandam Universitatis Helsinkiensis’ can find more information on the cover design in instructions for students' article Publishing the dissertation and communications. Please note that for the instructions to appear, you are to select a doctoral programme hosted by the Faculty of Medicine from the menu on top of the page.

All dissertations must include a table of contents and a list of the component articles for article-based dissertations. If one or more of the articles in the dissertation have been used as a part of a previously published dissertation, a notification of this must be included in the dissertation after the list of articles.


System for the references and bibliography used in the dissertation

In the body text, numbering is used for literature references, which means that the list of references is in numerical order. Alternatively, in the body text, the name of the author and the publication year are used for in-text citations, in which case the list of references is in alphabetical order. All authors, the title of the article and the name of the journal must be indicated for the articles in the bibliography. Abbreviations from the Index Medicus shall be used for journals. After the name of the journal, the volume, the beginning and end page of the article, and the publication year are given. When referencing monographs and books, the title, author or editor, publisher, publication location and year, and the beginning and end pages of the reference must be included.

Retaining the original research material

The author must retain the original research results pertaining to the dissertation at least as long as the processing of the dissertation at the Faculty is underway. The results must be presented to the Faculty or to Faculty-appointed assessors on request. These guidelines apply to retaining the research material during the dissertation examination process at the Faculty. In all other respects, the researcher is responsible for complying with the provisions related to the retention of research material.

Selection of a publication forum

The Faculty recommends journals classified by the Finnish Publication Forum (categories 1 to 3). This will ensure that, in all likelihood, the publication forum is both scientifically and ethically acceptable. A list of journals classified by the Finnish Publication Forum is available on the website of the Finnish Publication Forum administered by the Federation of Finnish Learned Societies. Another method of assessing the quality of a publication forum is to check whether it has been listed on Medline, Web of Science and PubMed.

The Finnish Publication Forum listing does not include assessments of the most recent journals, and they may not yet have been indexed on Medline, PubMed or Web of Science. When assessing new publication series, the prestige of the publisher plays a large role. If the publisher is a prestigious and recognised scientific society or a renowned scientific publisher, it can be assumed that the new publication forum is appropriate, e.g., an Open Access version of a well-known journal.

Re-registration of doctoral thesis

A re-registration form is submitted only when a doctoral candidate has been granted the right to do a doctoral degree before 1 January 2007, but they have not registered their thesis. Or, if a research project has totally changed and the doctoral candidate wishes to re-register the thesis.