Applying for the title of docent

Basis of the title of docent

The title of docent is an academic title which a university may, in accordance with section 89 of the Universities Act (558/2009), award to a person who has comprehensive knowledge of his or her own field, a capacity for independent research work demonstrated through publications or some other manner, and good teaching skills.

Granting the title of docent

According to section 84 (8 October 2009) of the Regulations of the University of Helsinki, the chancellor grants the title of docent at the proposal of the faculty council. All docentships are granted by the University of Helsinki, not individual faculties.

Significance of the title of docent

According to section 84 (8 October 2009) of the Regulations of the University of Helsinki, docents may participate in teaching in their field, the supervision of students, the examination of theses and other University operations as agreed.

A docentship does not constitute a contract of employment with the University, which is why docents are not eligible for remunerations or staff benefits unless otherwise agreed.

The title of docent is required for certain positions at the Helsinki University Central Hospital.

Docent contract

Docents who are not University of Helsinki staff members and who wish to benefit and interact with the University in their fields may, in accordance with Rector's Decision 2/4/2010 (13 December 2010), enter a docent contract outlining the forms and terms of cooperation with the University unit that represents their field. The docent contract does not constitute a contract of employment with the University, but is an agreement of the rights and benefits the docent becomes eligible for while participating in the operation of the faculty of the department in question. The University pays a remuneration for the work as agreed before the docent undertakes teaching or other duties in question.

Concluding a docent contract always requires consent from both parties. It is approved and signed by the head of department, who considers whether the contract serves the unit’s needs and interests. The validity period of the contract (in years) will be indicated in the text. However, the contract can be terminated bilaterally before the end of the validity period or renewed after the initial validity period has expired.

The title of docent and retirement

Retiring docents may enter into a docent contract with the University. Professors emeriti wishing to maintain contact with the University of Helsinki need not apply for the title of docent. According to Rector’s Decisions 2/3/2010 and 2/4/2010 (13 December 2010), professors emeriti may conclude an equivalent professor contract with the University.

Docentships granted under the previous Universities Act

On 25 January 2010, the chancellor of the University of Helsinki made a decision to grant the title of docent to all persons who were appointed docents at the University of Helsinki before the entry into force of the amended Universities Act (558/2009). However, this decision did not reinstate docentships that expired before the new Act entered into force.

Only appropriately completed applications submitted by the deadline will be discussed in the next meeting of the Docentship Committee. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

The Faculty of Medicine requests that the following documents be submitted according the instructions below:

1. Application form

A signed application form.

2. Curriculum vitae and degree diplomas

The CV should be one to two pages in length and be accompanied by copies of second-cycle (Licentiate) and third-cycle (doctoral) degree diplomas and relevant service records. The CV should also indicate the applicant’s proficiency in the second national language of Finland (Finnish or Swedish depending on the applicant’s native language). If the applicant’s language proficiency is not indicated on the degree diploma(s), the application must be accompanied by a copy of the relevant language proficiency certificate. Applicants who are not Finnish citizens must also enclose with the application a copy of the first page of their passport.

3. List of publications

As regards lists of publications, the Faculty Council has, on 29 October 1982 and 5 February 1985, made the following decisions:

“As the docentship is an academic appointment, the primary emphasis in the assessment of academic competence should be in the quality and extensiveness of the applicant’s scientific publications.  Because the Faculty Council decides whether the applicant fulfils the qualification requirements, it is important that each member of the Faculty Council has access to information on the academic merits of the applicant, so that decisions are not based solely on the statements given by the assessors.”

The Faculty requires that the publications be classified as follows:

A. Previously published articles included in the dissertation

B. Other original articles

C. Original scientific articles may only include articles that primarily focus on research results that are not part of any other articles and that have been published in international peer-reviewed scientific journals. Manuscripts in press may be included with the indication “accepted for publication”. A copy of the publisher’s letter of acceptance must be enclosed. Manuscripts submitted for publication, currently under preparation or under assessment may not be included.

D. Original articles in scientific compilations or printed conference proceedings. This does not apply to abstracts, of which only the number should be reported.

E. Case studies published in international peer-reviewed publication series

F. Reviews and editorials in international scientific journals and textbooks

G. Original articles and reviews in Finnish textbooks and peer-reviewed publication series

H. Popular scientific articles

I. Online materials

The applicant’s name in the list of authors must be highlighted by using bold or underlined text. The list of publications must follow the Vancouver system (e.g., Wilson DH, Thyson WT: Title of article. Am J Clin Patol 1991; 29: 762-770).

The following information must be provided for each publication:

  1. The impact factor of the publication series
  2. The order number of the publication series among publications in the field (ISI citation index)
  3. Information on the number of citations for the publication in the literature

Further information is available from the Meilahti Campus Library Terkko (in Finnish).

Web of Science

Only open access publications that employ a referee system count as original articles. The eligibility of such articles is decided on a case-by-case basis. The applicant must also self-assess his or her experience with publication processes and indicate open access publications with “Open Access” (in bold) at the end of the reference. When discussing the application, the Docentship Committee will take particular care to assess whether such publications count as original articles. The following sources can be of use in the self-assessment:

Scholarly Open Access

Scholarly Open Access - Individual Journals

If the applicant and the first author are equal contributors to a publication, this must be indicated in the list of publications.

The list of publications must demonstrate that the applicant has developed his or her own line of research and that he or she is actively engaged in research work. It is important that the applicant be the first, second or last author in the most central publications of his or her field. In the assessment of the applicant, primary attention will be paid to the quality of the articles published or accepted for publication in international refereed publication series with reference to the applicant’s field. The list of publications must typically include at least twenty such articles. As a rule, case studies do not count as original articles.  

4. List of 20 selected publications

5. A report (of up to two pages) of the applicant’s field and his or her contribution to the research

6. Report of the applicant’s postgraduate research education

As per the Faculty Council’s decision of 23 February 1999, attention will be paid to, e.g., the applicant’s doctoral education in Finland or abroad, participation in national or international conferences in his or her field, and other equivalent merits. In addition, competitive research funding acquired by the applicant demonstrates the ability to conduct independent scientific research and will be considered an asset.

7. Report on the applicant’s teaching qualifications

  • Teaching qualifications must be documented as laid down in the teaching qualifications form of the Faculty.
  • A report of courses completed (if any) must be enclosed with the application.

Section 89 of the Universities Act (558/2009) stipulates that docents must have good teaching skills. At the Faculty of Medicine, this can be demonstrated by completing a course of at least five credits in university pedagogy or by working as a full-time university teacher for at least two years. It is recommended that the applicant enrol in pedagogical training before submitting the application. The applicant may also demonstrate his or her teaching skills in other ways, the sufficiency of which will be assessed by the Docentship Committee in accordance with the Faculty's matrix for the evaluation of teaching skills.

It is recommended that the applicant actively participate in research supervision and the training of junior researchers. Such merits can be demonstrated by providing information on the supervision of Licentiate and Master’s theses, the quality of publications by the applicant’s current doctoral students, and courses organised by the applicant that are included in doctoral education.

In accordance with the dean's decision of 22 March 2011, the Docentship Committee will act as the Teaching Skills Evaluation Committee. The Committee may request a statement on teaching qualifications from the Teaching Skills Evaluation Committee of the Faculty as necessary.

8. Demonstration of teaching skills

The applicant must demonstrate his or her teaching skills in the form of a lecture or equivalent session. In practice, this usually takes place after the application has been submitted. The demonstration must be in the field of the docentship applied for and take place sufficiently close to the application period. The applicant may ask the Docentship Committee to decide whether a prior demonstration of teaching skills can be used for the purpose. If the prior demonstration was held at another university, the applicant must always give a new demonstration. Once the demonstration lecture or equivalent has been graded, the Docentship Committee notifies the Faculty Council about the teaching qualifications of the applicant and his or her grade.

9. Report on clinical service

In accordance with the decision of the Faculty Council on 25 November 1986, applicants in clinical fields are required to have completed two years of service in senior duties after having obtained their Specialist Degree in Medicine or Dentistry. Applicable service includes working as a clinical instructor, university lecturer, medical specialist, senior physician, department head, deputy chief physician, dental specialist, department head of a dentistry ward, or in other equivalent positions. The application must include a calculation of the duration of such service periods to indicate that the required clinical service has been completed.

10. Proposal for the field and proposal for the assessors to be submitted by a professor in the discipline

As a rule, the field of the docentship should follow the existing fields of docentships and professorships, a list of which can be found on the Faculty website. If a new field is proposed, clear grounds for this must be provided along with the proposal for the assessors. A person may not hold two docentships at the University of Helsinki. It is possible to change or combine the fields of two or more docentships. This will be decided by the Faculty Council.

All documents must be submitted to the Faculty Office, PO Box 61, TERKKO, 3rd floor, 00014 University of Helsinki. The Faculty Office is open 9.0015.00 on weekdays.

Further information is available from Tania Sawkins, tel. 02941 26619,

The Docentship Committee prepares matters pertaining to the qualification requirements of holders of the title of docent for the Faculty Council as well as examines docentship applications and proposals for assessors before the Faculty Council discussion. The Docentship Committee acts as the Teaching Skills Evaluation Committee and issues a statement on the teaching qualifications of prospective docents.

Docentship Committee Meetings in Autumn 2018

1. 4.9.2018 (submit your application by August 21, 2018)

2. 6.11.2018 (submit your application by October, 2018)



Processing of applications for the title of docent at the Faculty

Applications are first discussed by the Docentship Committee. If the Committee supports the application, the matter will be presented to the Faculty Council.

The Committee may also decide not to support the application. The applicant will be notified of the decision and its justifications. The Committee will also provide instructions on supplementing the application. The applicant may notify the Faculty that the matter must be presented regardless of the Committee's decision, in which case the presenting official will present the matter to the Faculty Council. If the applicant gives no such notification, the matter will expire until the applicant submits a supplemented application to the Docentship Committee.  

The Faculty Council will decide on expert assessors, after which the Faculty Office will deliver the application documents and publications to the assessors. After receiving statements from the assessors and the assessment of the applicant's teaching skills, the Faculty Council will make a proposal of appointment to the chancellor.