Apply for public defence of your thesis

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Before applying

You should prepare your defence application well in advance – ideally three months or more – of your chosen defence date. Please also see the documents "Public defence process" on the right side of this page.

We recommend an extra 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. Appoint a coordinator from the board and inform him/her of his/her role (see Information to Examination Board, Opponent and Defence Chairperson).
  • Contact the printer 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.
  • If you are registered on a doctoral programme other than medical science, find an examiner and book an examination of your subject-specific knowledge and skills as outlined in the general study plan for the doctoral subject. The examiner should be a docent or professor with knowledge of the subject and no association with the project, your supervisor or yourself. He/she may come from your own department, although this is not a requirement.


A suitable time interval between the meetings of the Dissertation Committee and your desired defence date is about ten weeks. If the time is less than seven weeks, the application will not be considered. This is to protect you from having to postpone your defence if the process is delayed for some reason. A defence application consists of two parts.

Part 1 includes form no. 9 (in the original), and a number of compulsory and other possibly required annexes. See further instructions on the form.

Part 2 includes:

  • A copy of form no. 9
  • The constituent papers of your thesis, including manuscripts, in full (manuscripts may be incomplete).
  • Copies of all ethical applications and permits indicated on pages D4. Karolinska Institutet’s ethical guidelines for international collaboration (Ref no/Dnr 5463/06-010) apply to all research which is being conducted outside Sweden as a part of an international collaboration with KI. All research that is conducted in other countries implies that ethical permits and other applicable permits required in the respective country should be available, (for example handling of sensitive personal data or using tissue from autopsies). If a permit is not compulsory in the respective country according to local or national laws, it is required that the research would have been approved in an ethical review in Sweden. In this case the supervisor should clearly outline the ethical rules of the country in question and why no ethical permits are required. The supervisor must also assess that the research conducted is in line with Swedish regulations. If ethical permits are written in other languages than English or Swedish, a letter signed by the permit holder has to be attached to the application, stating that the research in the constituent paper is covered by the permit in question.

See form no. 9 for further instructions.

Examination Board and Opponent

The Examination Board is to be composed so that the members’ combined expertise covers the entire field 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 an institution other than KI and have no current affiliation with the university. No more than one member, although not the coordinator, may belong to your department. 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 of explanation and a CV (including list of publications) of the person in question is to be appended to your application.

Your opponent must be a postdoc researcher, possess expert knowledge of the project’s subject field and be without conflict of interest with respect to you, your supervisors or your project. Your opponent need not hold a docentship.  A highly qualified professor may be considered instead of a postdoc researcher, 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.

Information to Examination Board, Opponent and Defence Chairperson.

Your opponent is to be paid a fee, which the Board of Doctoral Education set at SEK 10,000 on 1 July 2011.
Remember to have the tax status of your opponent determined if he or she is from another country. Download form 4350 from the tax office website.

Instructions in English explaining the defence procedure are available for non-Swedish speaking opponents.

Avoiding conflict of interest (COI)

Demands 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 COI rules (in Swedish)

The Swedish Research Council’s COI rules

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

COI rules (in Swedish)

These rules are similar in many respects to KI’s own 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. Should there be exceptional reason to do so, the Dissertation Committee may approve a defence application with only a single published (or accepted) paper.

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

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.

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.
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.
You will then be asked to respond to the statement and, if necessary, submit a revised monograph with all corrections clearly indicated.
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 extra month.

See also Notification from the Dissertation Committee and Amending an approved defence application.

Hand in your application

Send part 1B to this address via regular mail or KI's internal mail system:
Karolinska Institutet
171 77 Stockholm 

Or hand in part 1B directly to our reception:
Berzelius väg 3, 5th floor
Campus Solna
(Please mark your letter with "Disputationskommittén")


Questions about the public defence application

The Dissertation Committee


Administrative Officer - the Dissertation Committee

Eva Bjur

Phone: +46-(0)8-524 865 52

Administrative Officer - the Dissertation Committee

Gunilla Hovén Malinowski

Phone: +46-(0)8-524 860 22

Administrative Officer - the Dissertation Committee

Catherine Bollö

Phone: +46-(0)8-524 863 62

Doctoral education