Thesis committee and follow-up

All doctoral candidates have an officially appointed thesis supervisor. In the Faculty of Medicine, the thesis supervisors are appointed by the faculty. All must hold doctoral degrees, and at least one supervisor must hold the qualifications of a docent. A third supervisor may be appointed if the dissertation project is multidisciplinary. All thesis supervisors must have the expertise and experience necessary to carry out the proposed research project.

Please familiarize yourself with the Guidelines for Doctoral Candidates in DSHealth.

Thesis committee and annual follow-up

The doctoral candidate, the supervisor(s) and at least two external experts together form the doctoral candidate’s thesis committee. The external experts nominated by the doctoral candidate and the supervisor(s) are expected to have the academic competence to assess the progress of the doctoral candidate’s thesis project. At least one expert must hold the qualifications of a docent, but the minimum requirement is a doctoral degree. The thesis committee members must be approved by both the Doctoral Programme in Clinical Research and the Faculty of Medicine.

The thesis committee member
The primary goal of the thesis committee is to monitor the progress of the doctoral candidate’s research project and formal studies. The selected thesis committee members should ideally be independent researchers committed to supporting the doctoral candidate in both scientific as well as other issues related to obtaining the doctoral degree. The appointed members cannot be close collaborators (shared research projects or grants within the last 5 years) of the thesis supervisor. 

The thesis committee members are expected to work independently of the thesis supervisor. It is recommended that at least one thesis committee member should be able to act as the preliminary examiner of the thesis work. Acting as a pre-examiner involves stricter criteria of independence from the supervisor. Attention should also be paid to traditional conflicts of interests as specified at the University of Helsinki policy for disqualification of assessors.

Thesis committee members can be affiliated with either domestic or international a) universities b) independent and/or sector research institutes c) clinics. A thesis committee member may also represent a local research program. If both thesis committee members are local, then one must be from a different department, clinic or institute than the doctoral candidate and the thesis supervisor. At least one of the external members should be a licensed physician or dentist if the doctoral candidate has a background in clinical medicine.

Thesis committee meetings and follow-up
The thesis committee evaluates the progress of the thesis project annually and gives feedback on the doctoral candidates personal study plan. The doctoral candidate is expected to send an updated progress report to the thesis committee members prior to the annual meeting. During the meeting the doctoral candidate presents the current status and future plans of the thesis project the thesis committee members assess the progress and make suggestions on further studies. The doctoral candidate is expected to submit a progress report to the doctoral programme after the annual thesis committee meeting.

The aim of annual follow-up is to ensure that the:

The doctoral candidate revises the follow-up report based on the feedback at the meeting, and submits the revised report to the Doctoral Programme in Clinical Research using the electronic reporting form. Doctoral candidates can save a partially completed form and continue later by providing an email address in the ‘partial submission’ section at the end of the form. A report with only a short description of the status of the thesis project is required if the doctoral candidate has concentrated on specialist training or is on e.g. maternity leave. The deadline for the annual follow-up report is January, 31.