Each LUOVA doctoral candidate must have a thesis advisory committee that evaluates the candidate's progress and offers the candidate support throughout his/her doctoral studies.The first meeting must be arranged within four months after being accepted to LUOVA after which the subsequent meetings must take place annually. Reports of the meetings must be submitted to LUOVA in a timely manner.

The thesis advisory committee’s tasks are to:

  • discuss the candidate’s research plan with him or her to ensure the plan is clear, feasible and relevant,
  • give the candidate constructive feedback on the progress of his or her postgraduate studies and research,
  • issue recommendations on studies supporting the candidate’s research work,
  • take up problems and/or issues that need to be addressed and notify the programme coordinator of them, and
  • help the candidate plan his or her post-dissertation career.

Please note that if you are registered as a doctoral candidate at the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences you are required to submit to the faculty office a written statement from the committee before the pre-examiners of your thesis can be appointed. Details about the statement are available here. So please, contact the committee well in advance and ask which documents they need from you to be able to write the statement. Also, allow enough time for the committee to prepare the statement.

Committee members

The candidate and the supervisor together should assemble the candidate's advisory committee. The committee must have at least two specialist members from a relevant field of research. Two of the members must hold the qualifications of a docent or equivalent knowledge and, to ensure objectivity, all of them must be independent of the candidate and the supervisor at the time of appointment. It should be noted that at the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, only one of the two dissertation pre-examiners may be a member of the thesis advisory committee.

There are no limitations as to where the committee members come from but it should be noted that neither LUOVA nor the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences can offer financial support for their travel expenses. Many LUOVA candidates may find at least one suitable committee member from one of the governmental research institutes (SYKE, LUKE or Metsähallitus). It is also advisable that at least one of the committee members is well familiar with the requirements for a PhD degree to make sure that the candidate completes the obligatory studies early on in the course of his or her doctoral studies.

While the committee members may help the candidate in conceptual matters, and - should they and the candidate's research group so choose - even engage in scientific collaboration, it should be kept in mind that they are busy with students of their own and thus cannot be expected to contribute to data analysis etc.

In the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences the thesis advisory committee members must be named on the inside of the dissertation title page along with the supervisors, thesis pre-examiners, and defense opponent and custodian.


The first meeting

The purpose of the first meeting is that the doctoral candidate introduces him/herself and the research plan to the committee. The candidate is responsible for arranging the meeting and he/she should start scheduling it well in advance due to the hectic schedules of researchers. It is also good to book a room for the meeting early on.

At least one week prior to the scheduled meeting the candidate must send the committee his/her research plan and a modified progress report. Even though certain points in the instructions do not apply to a candidate that has only recently started his/her doctoral studies, the report should follow the listed points as closely as possible.

In the meeting, which format is flexible, the research plan and the progress report should be discussed. At the end of the meeting there should be a session where the doctoral candidate may discuss with the group without the supervisor being present, after which the supervisor may discuss with the group without the candidate being present. The supervisor is asked to send a brief report of this private discussion to the coordinator.


Annual meetings

Meetings with the thesis advisory committee must take place annually, although on mutual agreement they may take place more often than once a year. If the first meeting was held during the spring term the annual meetings may also take place during the spring term.

The doctoral candidate must send the committee members a report of his or her progress (see below) and an up-dated research plan at least one week prior to the scheduled meeting. Main emphasis of the duscussion should be placed on the report and the candidate's future plans. As the research plan was already introduced in the first meeting it is not necessary to go through it once again unless major changes have been made.

At the end of the meeting there should be a session where the candidate may discuss with the group without the supervisor being present, after which the supervisor may discuss with the group without the candidate being present. The supervisor is asked to send a brief report of this private discussion to the coordinator.


The progress report

When writing the progress report, the instructions below should be followed as closely as possible. After the meeting, the doctoral candidate must up-date the report to include the date and place of the meeting, who were present, and a short delineation of what was discussed. The up-dated report must be immediately sent to the doctoral programme coordinator.  The absolute deadline for each year is December 15th. If the first meeting with the committee was in the spring term the following meetings may also take place in the spring.

Points to be included in the progress report and to be discussed in the committee meeting:

  • Tentative title of the PhD thesis
  • Estimated time of defense
  • List of publications and tentative titles of manuscripts to be included in the dissertation, including:
    • names of the authors
    • brief description of each author’s contribution to the work
    • the status of the work (experiments in progress, manuscript in preparation, manuscript submitted or accepted, or the reference of published work)
  • List of publications and manuscripts which are not intended to be included in the thesis
  • List of all lectures and practicals accomplished during the passing year, including:
    • the name of the course
    • number of credits earned
  • List of all symposia and meetings abroad and in Finland that the student has participated in, including:
    • name, place and date of the symposium/meeting
    • the student's contribution (poster/talk/organisation/something else)
  • List of courses the candidate has taught on (name, place, date, the student’s task)
  • Brief description of MSc theses the candidate is supervising
  • A list of major changes made to the research plan since the previous committee meeting
  • A list of manuscripts and other studies that are going to be accomplished during the following year, including a timetable for the studies required by LUOVA
  • Financial plan for the following year - costs and a plan for their funding:
    • an estimation of costs resulting from the candidate's salary
    • laboratory/experimental work
    • travel expenses
  • Summary of 3 positive and 3 negative points from the past year, for example:
    • main findings/main issues learnt (including courses, organization of events, readings, etc.)
    • biggest problems and sources of concern, things that could be improved

Since the founding of the doctoral programme in 1995 more than 170 students have graduated from LUOVA.

LUOVA alumni from the period 1996 - 2017 can be found here. Please note that the list is no longer updated.