Public defence during the COVID-19 pandemic

[Updated 2020-04-30]

Major updates of this webpage

2020-04-30 List of tips updated with link till web page for safe Zoom meetings + clarifications regarding signatures after the public defence

2020-03-30 This webpage was created (information was transferred from Consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on KI’s doctoral education)

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

There are many questions at present surrounding COVID-19 and the impact on public defences at KI. The starting point is that public defences are to be conducted on the planned date, and that digital solutions should be used if needed.

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

Information about applying for public defence of your thesis

Preliminary review by the Examination board

Preliminary review by the Examination Board is done as usual

Information about preliminary review by the Examination board

"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

Notification of digital participation

If one or more members of the Examination Board, the opponent, the defence chairperson and/or the doctoral student will be participating 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.

The 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.  

The following apply:

To make it public:

  • KI must provide a room on site for the public defence, where those who so wish can come and follow the defence.
  • It is recommended to also use digital solutions so that anyone in the public unable to attend may still take part (see tips 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. It can be the Chair of the defence, the supervisor or someone else. 
  • The Chair of the defence is responsible for that the public defence is conducted correctly, even if he/she participates remotely, see below.

If the members of the Examination Board, Opponent, doctoral student and/or Chair of the defence participate digitally:

  • Notification of digital participation should be done before the start of the defence to the Dissertation Committee at, see above.
  • The Chair of the defence has to ensure that Examination board, Opponent and doctoral student 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.). The equipment must be checked to ensure that it works for everyone.
  • It is imperative that Examination Board, Opponent and doctoral student 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. 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 Chair. The Chair must have his/her phone close-by through both the defence and the following meeting.

Tips for a digital public defence:

  • 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. 
  • Information regarding safe Zoom-meetings

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 the Chair 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
  • N.B.: Any change must 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 

In the form 11 ”Decision of the examination board– public defence” it should be stated clearly who has participated digitally.   

The form is to be sent to whoever was not physically present who is then to sign and return it (one sheet per distance participant). Normally a decision should be an original document, but under present circumstances it is recommended that the examination board member scan the signed form and send it by e-mail.

The incoming sheets are then appended to that used on-site. Copy-and-pasting of signatures is not 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.