How Are Dissertations Evaluating?

Candidates who want to pursue a doctoral degree must seek approval to complete a dissertation to graduate. This means submitting an electronic dissertation application.

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So, How is a Dissertation Evaluated?

The following are the statements that a dissertation committee will need to approve before the candidate can proceed:

  • Statements from the relevant preliminary examinations board of examiners;
  • Statements from any opponents of the dissertation and the defense of the same. This includes grade proposal (opponents may obtain the grading criteria for a particular school from the general information published for public examinations);
  • Any comments (in writing) indicated to be forthcoming regarding the public exam;
  • Any comments or statements on behalf of the doctoral candidate in response to opponents' statements.  

Dissertation Grading

Once completed, the usual grades awarded for a dissertation are pass, pass with distinction, and fail.

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The regulations in most schools and colleges stipulate that successful dissertations are given the following grades: pass and pass with distinction. However, only exceptional dissertations should be awarded the pass with a distinction grade.    

When a dissertation is graded with a pass with distinction, it is required that the paper be of notable scientific merit, the results or findings be of exceptional significance in the field the research relates to, and the articles of an article-based dissertation be published in a highly respected international journal series in their field or in some similar publication that publishes peer-reviewed articles and works.

Additionally, the student should have made an important contribution through the results they obtained and how they were obtained, that the results are represented entirely clearly, and that the language used and the manner of the referencing are outstanding. The preliminary statements concerning the examination should not suggest that the student's dissertation requires extensive or moderate correction. The same should not apply to any previous dissertation paper partly related to the same subject or based on similar material.

Furthermore, how the dissertation is defended should be excellent. 

  • The statement an opponent or opponents provide must also present a specific justification for being awarded a pass with distinction. 

Practices About Grading

When grading a dissertation, the work should be evaluated in its entirety. It is also possible the work will be evaluated against or compared to the dissertations of candidates of the same level and field. When a dissertation is being examined, it is permissible for the opponent to compare the work against the acceptable quality and standards in the examiner's college or university.

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It is worth noting, however, that dissertation projects about the School of Electrical Engineering are more wide-ranging in nature than many of those in similar schools across Europe, so comparing dissertations can be difficult in this respect. With article-based dissertations, the summary section is at the beginning and is an independent entity that draws together all thesis-related articles.

A dissertation project is a four-year course of doctoral-level studies taken full-time. In other countries, however, dissertations can be completed over three years of study. Additionally, the number of publications needed can differ from the regulations in many other colleges and universities. The professor supervising each dissertation must highlight these points to the examiner or opponent.

Dissertation Evaluation and Degree Rules/Regulations

For example, in the School of Electrical Engineering, the dissertation evaluation rules are defined in the general regulations about degrees (Section 27, 2013).

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Two weeks after a public exam, any opponent(s) approved by the participating school should, jointly or individually, submit a statement (in writing) to the school regarding the dissertation and how it has been defended. Additionally, any comments (again in writing) announced at the dissertation public exam as forthcoming should be submitted to the school in question within two weeks of the public exam.

Requests for failing a dissertation should be submitted in writing with the reasons provided. An opponent or someone from the doctoral evaluation committee who is eligible to make decisions about the merit of work may make such requests.

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Opponents' written statements or comments should be submitted to the relevant school for use in the dissertation approval and grading processes. The dissertation writer will be given the chance to respond in writing to any comments or statements within a timeframe decided by the appropriate school.