Apply for the title of docent

Universities Act stipulates that a university may, upon application, award the title of docent ("dosentti") to a person who has comprehensive knowledge of their field, a capacity for independent research work demonstrated through publications or some other manner, and good teaching skills.
Grant­ing the title of do­cent

Applicants for the title of docent must hold a doctoral degree. Section 89 of the Universities Act (558/2009) stipulates that a university may, upon application, award the title of docent to a person who has comprehensive knowledge of their field, a capacity for independent research work demonstrated through publications or some other manner, and good teaching skills.

The Regulations of the University of Helsinki (section 52, subsection 2) state that if the faculty council considers it appropriate for the operations of the faculty or discipline to grant the title of docent to the applicant, it shall assess the applicant’s scientific qualifications based on statements by two assessors, unless it considers such statements unnecessary for special reasons. After receiving the statements and a report on the applicant’s teaching skills, the faculty council shall decide whether to propose to the chancellor that the title of docent be granted.

According to the chancellor’s instructions (12 May 2020, HY/977/01.08.03/2020), the field of the docentship must be closely connected to the operations of the faculty or discipline, and it is often appropriate that it follows the organisation of disciplines established at the faculty. If the field of a docentship proposed to the chancellor is new at the faculty, the faculty council must justify why the proposed field is appropriate for the operations of the faculty or discipline.

The Faculty of Veterinary Medicine requires that applicants for the title of docent have issued, as a rule, at least 10–15 publications (including the publications contained in the applicant’s doctoral thesis) in international refereed publication series. The publications must relate to the field of the docentship. See also the assessment of scientific qualifications and the assessment of teaching skills.

Section 89 of the Universities Act and section 52, subsection 1 of the Regulations stipulate that the title of docent requires good teaching skills. The teaching skills of applicants for the title of docent are assessed by the Faculty’s teaching skills committee.

When granting the title of docent to a person not proficient in Finnish or Swedish, that person is simultaneously exempted in accordance with the Regulations from the requirement concerning proficiency in Finnish and Swedish laid down in the Government Decree on Universities. The chancellor grants the exemption when granting the title of docent.

Granting the title of docent does not constitute a contract of employment with the University. A docent may participate in the provision of teaching in their discipline, the supervision of students and the examination of theses as well as in other academic activities, as separately agreed on a case-by-case basis.

Applying for the title of docent

At the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, applications for the title of docent are accepted twice a year, from 1 to 21 January and from 1 to 21 August. The application documents and selected publications (to be sent to the assessors) must be emailed to hr-eltdk(at)helsinki.fi. The application documents should be submitted in English in case an international assessor is appointed.

Before submitting their application, applicants for the title of docent are advised to contact the professor in charge of the field of the docentship in order to assess the appropriateness of the proposed field and the fulfilment of the criteria for granting the title of docent (as well as individuals proposed as assessors, if any). Applicants for the title of docent can also contact the vice-dean for research at the Faculty or the HR specialist coordinating the application procedure.

Application documents (as a single PDF file):

1. A free form application letter addressed to the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine indicating the field of the applied title of docent and the applicant’s contribution to the field (up to 1 page)
2. (An academic portfolio or) a researcher’s CV (up to 7 pages + attachments)
3. A list of publications

Further information on the academic portfolio, a template for the researcher’s CV and the list of publications is available here: https://www.helsinki.fi/en/about-us/careers/open-positions/instructions-applica…. The assessment matrix for teaching skills must be taken into consideration when describing teaching qualifications.

Selected publications (PDF):

Included in the list of publications, selected publications (up to 10) with which the applicant wishes to demonstrate their scientific qualifications in the field of the prospective nomination. Open access publications can be submitted as links.

Pro­cessing of ap­plic­a­tions

After receiving the application, the Faculty will ask the professor in charge of the field of the docentship to submit a reasoned proposal on the appropriateness of the docentship (always required, special attention if the field is new at the Faculty) and on the assessors suited to assessing the scientific qualifications. This proposal must briefly describe the qualifications of the assessors in relation to the field of the docentship. The proposal must also include the contact details of the persons in question. When choosing the assessors, the grounds for disqualification established by the Administrative Procedure Act (434/2003, sections 27 and 28) and characteristic of the academic environment must be taken into consideration.

The application and the proposal on the assessors will be discussed at the Faculty’s Research Committee ("Tutkimustoimikunta"). If the committee supports the application for the title of docent, the application and the proposal on the appointment of assessors will be submitted to the Faculty Council for decision. If the committee has a valid reason not to support an application, information about this decision, together with the reasons given, will be sent to the applicant. At the applicant’s request, the presenting official can submit the matter to the Faculty Council for decision even if the committee does not propose to the Faculty Council that the assessment process be initiated. If the applicant accepts the committee’s decision, the matter is considered closed until the applicant reapplies for the title of docent, for example, when the applicant has more extensive evidence of their scientific activities.

Following the Faculty Council’s decision on the assessors, the Faculty will provide them with the application documents and the selected publications. The time limit for the assessment is usually six to eight weeks. If the assessors’ statements support the granting of the title of docent, the applicant must hold a demonstration of teaching skills according to the Faculty’s instructions. To speed up the process, the demonstration can be given earlier while the assessors are still assessing the application. The Faculty’s teaching skills committee will be present at the demonstration of teaching skills and will submit a statement on the applicant’s teaching skills.

After examining the application documents, the assessors’ statements and the statement of the teaching skills committee, the Faculty Council will decide whether to propose to the chancellor that the applicant be granted the title of docent.

As­sess­ment of scientific qualifications

Assessors must assess each applicant’s scientific qualifications in relation to the field indicated in the application based on the application documents. Each assessor’s statement must indicate whether the assessor finds the applicant qualified in the field of the prospective docentship and whether the assessor proposes that the applicant be granted the title of docent. The assessors may submit a joint statement.

Assessors are asked to assess and comment on at least the following areas in their statement:

Scientific publications

The Faculty of Veterinary Medicine requires that applicants for the title of docent have issued, as a rule, at least 10–15 publications (including the publications contained in the applicant’s doctoral thesis) in international refereed publication series. The publications must relate to the field of the docentship.

The applicant’s scientific publications must primarily be assessed on the basis of articles published or approved for publication in international refereed publication series. The applicant’s other publications must, however, be taken into account when assessing the scope of their publications.

  • The quantity and quality of the applicant’s scientific output and its relationship to the field of the applied-for docentship. Do the publications demonstrate that the applicant has comprehensive knowledge of the field?
  • The applicant’s capacity for independent research work. Has the applicant established their own line of research? Are they still actively carrying out research? What is the applicant’s contribution to co-authored publications? Are they the first, second or last author of scientific publications?
  • Other publications
     
Postgraduate research education and other scientific qualifications

When assessing postgraduate research education, the following factors may be taken into account:

  • Postdoctoral education in Finland and abroad
  • Participation in scientific conferences, courses and seminars in the field
  • Competitive research funding following the doctoral thesis
  • Refereeing for international publication series

Applicants for the title of docent in clinical fields must have not only scientific qualifications, but also practical clinical expertise in the field (e.g., evidence verifiable through professional specialization education or clinical practice).

Assessment of teaching skills

The teaching skills committee of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine assesses the teaching skills of applicants for the title of docent. The assessment is based on the matrix for evaluation of teaching skills. The overall grade for teaching skills, based on the following areas of assessment, must be at least good:
1. Experience in teaching and evaluation as well as the development of one’s own teaching
2. Pedagogical training and pedagogical thinking
3. The ability to use and produce learning material
4. Other teaching merits
5. Demonstration of teaching skills

Further infor­mation

Further information can be obtained from Vice-Dean for research or from the HR Specialist responsible for coordinating the application procedure for the title of docent at the Faculty: hr-eltdk(at)helsinki.