Apply for public defence of your thesis

Before applying

You should prepare your defence application well in advance – ideally three months or more – of your chosen defence date. 

We recommend an additional month for monograph theses. See “Compilation or monograph theses” (below).

  • Book a venue for your chosen defence date on a weekday during semester-time. The venue must be located in the Stockholm region so that KI’s students and staff can attend. Venues are booked through your own department.
  • Contact your opponent and the members of the Examination Board to make sure that they are available on the date in question, and that the board members are able to take part in the preliminary review of the constituent papers of your thesis. Propose a coordinator from the examination board and inform them of their role (see Information to Examination Board, Opponent and Defence Chairperson). One or more of the Examination Board members and / or the opponent may digitally participate, provided that the public defence can be carried out with high quality. Read more about digital participation in public defence.
  • Contact the printing house to find out how long it will take to have your thesis printed. Request permission to publish from the relevant journals and obtain an ISBN. See Printing your thesis.
  • Complete your compilation thesis summary chapter (”kappa”). Please note that the text will be checked to ensure that there is no plagiarism. At the same time, it will show if the text consists of any self-plagiarism. Read more about the content of the thesis (including guidelines for writing the compilation thesis summary chapter).


A suitable time interval between the meetings of the Dissertation Committee and your desired defence date is about ten weeks. This is to protect you from having to postpone your defence if the process is delayed for some reason. 

As a result of a new procedure for monitoring achievement of learning outcomes, new forms will be introduced when applying for a public defence as follows:

Those submitting their application for public defence up to and including 2024-03-14: 
use form 9 version 2022-10 as before according to instructions

 Those submitting their application for public defence as of 2024-03-15:
Use form 9 version 2024-03-15 according to instructions. to instructions. This version is less extensive than before, but should be combined with a report on the doctoral student’s achievement of learning outcomes which is submitted in a separate form and constitutes part 3 of the defence application.

More information on the report of achievement of learning outcomes.

Examination Board and Opponent

The goal of the Examination Board’s composition is that the members total expertise should cover the entire area of the thesis. 

The members must be free in their assessment so that no doubt can be cast on the objectivity of their decision (see “Avoiding COI” below). There are normally three members of the board, but in exceptional circumstances (e.g. if the thesis is explicitly multidisciplinary) this number may be increased to five.

At least one member of the Examination Board is to belong to a university other than KI and have no current affiliation with KI. No more than one member, although not the coordinator, may belong to your department. At least one member shall come from another university than the doctoral student principal supervisor and co-supervisors. If possible, at least one member should have sat on the board during the half-time review. 

All members are to be docents or professors, although in exceptional cases, the Dissertation Committee may approve a proposed member who holds neither position. To apply for an exemption from the regulations, a letter explaining as to why the proposed member possesses such a unique scientific subject competence that it is not possible to find another unbiased docent or professor. Additionally, a CV including a list of publications for the proposed member must be attached to the application.

Your opponent shall be a researcher who must hold a doctoral degree (PhD), possess expert knowledge of the thesis’ area and be without conflict of interest with respect to you, your supervisors, or the project. Your opponent doesn’t need to hold a docentship. A highly qualified professor may be considered although he/she does not hold a doctoral degree, in which case this person’s CV (including list of publications) is to be appended to your application. 

Note that only one proposal for an Examination Board member and opponent is to be submitted. 
The Dissertation Committee can decide on the replacement of one or more of its members.

The doctoral student is responsible for sending the following document to the opponent and to the chair of the dissertation (the members of the Examination Board will receive the information directly from the Dissertation Committee):

Compensation to opponent

From the autumn semester 2023, the fee for opponents will be increased to SEK 15,000. For public defences during the spring semester 2023, a fee of SEK 10,000 is paid to the opponent.

Remember to have the tax status of the opponent determined if they are from another country. Download form 4350 from the  tax office website. Note, the fee will not be paid to an opponent employed or affiliated to KI.

Examination Board members and opponents may participate digitally, provided that the public defence can be carried out with high quality

Avoiding conflict of interest (COI)

The requirements on the impartiality and objectivity of the Examination Board members and opponents are extremely high. This is in your interests, as such demands help to prevent subsequent allegations of irregularities. If there is the slightest reason for others to doubt the objectivity of the Examination Board, it would mean that your interests have not been looked after sufficiently.

The following documents are available to help you judge whether a conflict of interest situation exists:

COI as defined by the Administrative Procedure Act

According to the Administrative Procedure Act, conflict of interest refers to any circumstances in which a member of a decision-making body engaged in a discussion about, or the presentation of specific material can be assumed to lack objectivity of opinion. The opponent and members of an Examination Board must thus have absolutely no connection with you personally, your supervisor or your project.

Karolinska Institutet’s COI rules

KI’s Guidelines on conflict of interest (COI) COI rules

The Swedish Research Council’s COI rules

The Swedish Research Council (VR) has also issued general COI rules:

The Swedish Research Council’s COI rules

The VR’s Scientific Council for Medicine and Health has defined how its COI rules are to be applied, specifying the following:

  • A conflict of interests arises if there has been scientific collaboration and joint production over the past five year period. A co-authored article is sufficient to be considered joint production.
  • A conflict of interests may arise for periods longer than five years if the collaboration has been particularly close.
  • The relationship between a postgraduate student and his/her supervisor is considered a matter of conflict of interest, regardless of how long ago the collaboration took place.
  • An exception from the 5-year rule can be made in the event of collaboration in the form of multicentre studies, which are judged on individual merits.

Many factors are taken into consideration by the Dissertation Committee when judging the suitability of an opponent or a member of the Examination Board. Sometimes it is a matter of clear-cut COI, but situations also arise in which a reviewer is considered unsuitable owing to lack of objectivity despite there having been no formal breach of the COI rules. The purpose of these decisions is to prevent situations in which objectivity can be called to question.

Compilation or monograph theses

The compilation thesis

The most common form of thesis at KI is a compilation thesis with a general introductory thesis frame followed by a number of constituent papers. At least two of the constituent papers included in the thesis must have been accepted for publication in peer-reviewed journals, the remainder may be in manuscript form. Doctoral education includes taking active part in the publication of scholarly articles.

The number of constituent papers in a compilation thesis varies, but the Examination Board must deem them to be of the scientific standard expected of an internationally pre-eminent university and of a scope corresponding to four years of full-time doctoral education.

Many project groups often produce original papers with several co-authors. If such original papers are included in your doctoral thesis, your own contributions must be clearly identifiable.

Support for writing the thesis

Information about the content of the thesis

The monograph thesis

If your thesis is to be presented as a monograph thesis in which there are no referee-reviewed articles, the review process deviates slightly from that for compilation theses.

  1. On submitting your defence application, you must append to the first draft of your monograph a proposal for two expert reviewers, one active at KI and one from another university.
  2. The reviewers will then examine your monograph and produce a written statement, similar to that made by a referee at a scientific journal, with comments on the quality and scope of the thesis. The statement is administrated by the Dissertation Committee.
  3. You will then be asked to respond to the statement and, if necessary, submit a revised monograph with all corrections clearly indicated.
  4. You must then send your thesis in the usual manner to the Examination Board with the preliminary reviewers’ comments appended in full. When the Examination Board has given its recommendation to proceed, the thesis manuscript will be sent for printing.

Expect a defence application for a monograph thesis to take an additional month.

The Dissertation Committee

Questions about the public defence application

Ruket Negasi

Administrative officer

More information for logged in staff

There is more information for those of you working in the following groups

  • C4.Department of Neuroscience
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