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Coronavirus information for doctoral students and supervisors

[Updated 2020-03-27, 16:25]

Major updates of this webpage

2020-03-27 More tips for digital public defence added

2020-03-23 New information regarding the public defence (chair and doctoral student can also participate remotely) as well as some clarifications / editorial corrections

2020-03-19 New sections: “Failing to participate with short notice” and “Information for international doctoral students”

There are many questions at present surrounding the coronavirus and the impact on KI’s doctoral education. Everyone is urged to keep themselves informed daily in order to take note of and act upon the recommendations that KI has issued for its staff and students

This webpage contains more detailed information of concern to doctoral education at KI. 

Doctoral students are to be considered  

  1. staff when working on their research project   
  2. students when they participate in courses

This means that: 

  • doctoral students continue with their research under the same conditions as other researchers  
  • doctoral courses are held as distance learning or are cancelled
  • half-time seminars and similar activities are conducted online, see below
  • thesis defences are to be conducted with possibility to attend online, see below

Adjusting doctoral education 

Many doctoral students will be affected in different ways by the current situation. We recommend that all doctoral students review their individual study plan with their supervisors and discuss if plans need to be revised. This applies to both the research plan, participation on courses and study-related travels. The starting position is for doctoral education to continue at KI and we must all do what we can to help solve the problems that arise.    


Regarding doctoral students’ research, the same guidelines apply to doctoral students as to all other members of staff.

The recommendation is that you reduce your social contact and work from home if you can, provided you obtain the consent of your immediate manager. Research at KI will continue, but with full observance of the recommendations. 


KI is switching to distance teaching starting from Wednesday 18 March. For doctoral students, this means that courses will be given online with the tools available or cancelled. Your course director will notify you accordingly. This applies to all courses, including courses given within research schools.  

If this means that you are unable to meet your credit requirement before the public defence of your thesis, you can discuss with the Dissertation committee about the possibility of approving your application for public defence under condition that individual courses are taken after the public defence.  Please note that this means that the degree of doctor or licentiate cannot be issued directly after the public defence, since it is required that the entire course requirement has been completed.

Further information for course providers: 

Half-time review

The recommendation is that half-time reviews are conduced remotely.

When you decide how the half-time review is to be conducted, try to ensure that it is done in a way that most effectively fulfils its purpose: i.e. that the student has a chance to obtain feedback, that the review serves as an educational element, and that the department is informed of the student’s progress.  

Try not to postpone the half-time review, but use it instead as an opportunity to discuss alternative solutions if the student’s study plan has to be revised on account of the prevailing situation. 

If you have any questions, contact your department’s director of doctoral studies. 

Public defences

Application for public defence

  • Applications should be filed via e-mail. No part of the application should be submitted in person.
  • Scanned signatures are accepted

Preliminary review by the Examination Board is done as usual.  

"Må spikas" and public notification of the thesis

The rules regarding “nailing” has changed temporarily which means the following:

  • The doctoral student should not make an appointment with a faculty representative for signing the thesis.
  • String and nail will no longer be offered by the library.
  • The thesis can be nailed physically if the doctoral student wants to but using own nail and without the signature on the thesis.
  • The public notification will be done digitally by the library as usual.
  • Three statutory copies of the thesis must as usual be handed in to the library

The statutory copies of the thesis should be delivered to the University library (KIB) at either of these places:

  • The book slot at Retzius väg 13A, Campus Solna. 
  • The book slot outside the door of the popup library in House 75, Retzius väg 13B, 3rd floor, Campus Solna. 
  • The book slot outside KIB's entrance, Alfred Nobels allé 8, Campus Flemingsberg. 

It is also possible to use the postal mail and send the copies to:

  • Karolinska Institutet, Universitetsbiblioteket, FE 200, 171 77 Stockholm 

Please note: The three copies of the thesis must be placed in an envelope or package. Write "SPIKNING" and the name of the doctoral student at the front of the envelope/package.

When the library staff have received the copies, they will publish the thesis electronically. The doctoral student will receive a notification of this through e-mail (if no e-mail arrives, contact

The public defence 

Our starting position is that defences will be held on the planned date. The following apply:

  • KI must provide a room on site for the publice defence, where those who so wish can come and follow the defence.
  • It is recommended that you also use digital solutions like Zoom so that anyone unwilling or unable to attend may still take part (see tip below)
  • The key persons at a public defence (examination board, opponent, doctoral student and defence chair) can if they so wishes, participate remotely, se below.
  • Someone must be present in the room on site to be responsible for the technology and to make sure that the room is unlocked and available. The responsibility also includes the meeting of the examination board after the defence.
  • The chair of the defence is responsible for that the public defence is conducted correctly, even if participating remotely, see below.


  • Utilize the room in which the thesis defence has previously been announced to be staged. This will allow any 'drop-in' participants a possibility to witness the defence. Suggest that 'social distance' is observed so that attendees spread themselves out in the room.
  • Main supervisor and doctoral student sit together in this room with the Zoom link-up. In this way the student is not alone during the process and can thus receive moral support from the supervisor.
  • Instruct everyone attending via Zoom to both mute and turn off their video so as not to distract the student and opponent/examination board during the discussion
  • Publish the link to the Zoom meeting/webinar in the calendar event on the KI website as part of the announcement of the thesis defence. Example: Inspirational example of how a calendar event for a dissertation with the possibility of digital participation might look

If one or more members of the Examination Board, the opponent, the defence chairperson and/or the doctoral student participate digitally, please inform the Dissertation Committee at , enclosing form 12:1  stating the person or persons concerned and who is to chair the defence.  Since this is a notification and not an application, it will not be returned to you signed. Notification of digital participation should not be done until the earliest three weeks before the defence, for example when nailing the thesis.

For those with a public defence date later this spring or early autumn: If you have an opponent from another country, it is recommended that you replace this person with a suitable opponent from Sweden. Use form 12:2

It is a good idea for everyone to think about possible alternative persons to ask if someone falls sick.

Digital participation at a public defence

The public defence is an examination and it is of greatest importance that those participating can do so without major obstacles. The technology must work throughout the seminar for both those present at the location and for those participating online.  

If the examination board, opponent, defence chairperson or doctoral student participate digitally the following apply:

  • The equipment must be checked to ensure that it works for everyone. It is imperative that everyone can take part in the entire defence and that all members of the Examination Board can take full and unrestricted part in its post-defence meeting. There must be a person present in the physical room taking responsibility for this.  
  • It is the responsibility of the defence chairperson to ensure that everyone can hear and be heard during the defence, and to inform everyone at the start of the procedures (e.g. that those not speaking are to mute their microphones, how to ask to speak, etc.). If the technology is faulty, the chairperson must suspend the defence until the issue has been rectified. 
  • Those participating via a link are to exchange telephone numbers with the defence chairperson and with the person on site (if someone else than the chairperson) in order to ensure that anyone having problems with the link can promptly contact the chairperson. The chair must have his/her phone close-by through both the defence and the following meeting.

In the form 11 ”Decision of the examination board” it should be stated clearly who have participated digitally.   

Failing to participate with short notice

If a member of the examination board or the opponent with a very short notice is unable to participate, the following apply:

  • The chair of the defence must take responsibility to solve the situation. If it is the chair that is unable to participate, someone else must be appointed as chair.
  • If the opponent cannot participate, one of the members of the examination board takes on the role as opponent.
  • If one of the examination board members is unable to participate, the opponent can act as examination board member as well as being opponent. Please note, at least one of the examination board members must be a person not affiliated to KI
  • A change must always be notified to the Dissertation committee before the defence can start. (contact: / 08-52486022;  please note that this phone number should only be used in these situations)
  • The public defence is adjourned until the situation is solved.

After the defence 

The names of distance participants are to be given on form 11 “Decision of the Examination Board – public defence”. The form is to be emailed to whoever was not present, who is then to sign and return it. One sheet per distance participants. The sheets are then appended to that used for the defence. No copy-and-pasting of signatures is allowed.  

The defence chairperson is to ensure that all signatures are collected and handed to the departmental administrator, as it is used as the basis of the student’s LADOK report. The chairperson is to report back to the Dissertation Committee on how the defence process went. 

For doctoral students who have not yet submitted their public defence application:

Our starting position is that defences will be held as planned. All new information will be posted on this web page.  

Travel, research visits and international conferences

Doctoral students are to observe the same guidelines on travel, research visits and international conferences as all other members of staff.  

Personal presentations at international conferences are obligatory for KI’s doctoral students. However, the current situation can mean that some students will not be able to fulfil this requirement when the time comes for their public defence. This needs to be solved later. At present, the Dissertation Committee may still approve their application of public defence on condition that such conference participation can take place after the public defence.   

KI’s travel grant for research visits for doctoral research

Owing to the limited opportunities for doctoral students to conduct planned research visits, the travelling/utilisation time for KI’s travel grants for research visits for doctoral students has been extended to 2021. This also applies for travel grants for research visits for doctoral students advertised, applied for and granted in the spring and autumn of 2019.

 If you have applied for a grant for a trip that has to be cancelled, we ask you to repay the money, although the sum granted can be used to cover any costs you may have incurred in cancelling.

Information for international doctoral students

If you need to stay longer in Sweden than originally planned or need to leave Sweden earlier: