The public defence
The public defence is the occasion when your doctoral thesis is discussed and defenced in public. People with different roles and functions participate - these are briefly described below. In connection with the registration of the public defence, it is proposed who is to be appointed to the various roles, such as faculty opponent, examining committee member and more. This is decided by a Research Programmes leader from the Research Education Board at LTH (read more under Registration and review).
In order to be appointed as a faculty opponent or member of the examining committee, special requirements must be met.
Explanations - Public defence
Chair of the examining committee - Ordförande i betygsnämnd
Chair of the public defence - Ordförande vid disputation
Committee deputy member - Suppleant i betygsnämnd
Co-supervisor - Biträdande handledare
Faculty opponent - Fakultetsopponent
Examining committee - Betygsnämnd
Main supervisor - Huvudhandledare
Public defence - Disputation
The doctoral student defending the thesis - Respondent
Thesis - Avhandling
The faculty opponent possesses expert knowledge in the subject area of the thesis. The opponent's role is to critically examine the thesis and to discuss the content in detail with the respondent during the public defence. The opponent must highlight both strengths and weaknesses in the thesis and give the respondent the opportunity to show their knowledge in the field of the thesis throughout the public defence. As the opponent is not a member of the examining committee, he or she has no voting rights at the examining committee's meeting.
The examining committee consists of three members, but in exceptional cases it may consist of five members. The members often represent different scientific aspects within the subject area of the thesis and they have the opportunity to ask their own questions to the respondent when the discussion between the faculty opponent and the respondent is concluded. The members are appointed to assess the quality of the thesis and the respondent's ability to discuss its content. It is the examining committee that decides whether the thesis and the public defence are to be approved.
When the examining committee meets after the public defence, each member has one vote (approved / rejected), where the majority's votes determine the outcome. At the meeting, the members appoint one of the members as chairman.
At least one deputy must also be appointed to the examining committee. The deputy must be able to replace a regular member who is unable to participate. If all ordinary members participate in the public defence, the deputy does not participate in the examining committee's vote.
There is a chairman whose task is to lead the public defence. This includes, among other things, opening and concluding the public defence, presenting the participants and ensuring that the members of the audience also has the opportunity to ask questions and present views. The chairman is normally a person from the doctoral student's department.
The public defence may vary slightly between different departments and therefore the description here is general.
The publice defence act is opened by the chairman of the public defence, who presents the participants and explains the structure. The faculty opponent and / or the respondent then usually presents a general description of the thesis where the most important conclusions are described. This presentation focuses on relating the public defence to the general research area in order to place it in a context. Normally, the presentation is held at a relatively general scientific level so that others within the faculty can follow along. Then follows the most important part of the public defence: the scientific discussion between the faculty opponent and the respondent.
During the discussion, the faculty opponent asks questions and discusses important parts of the doctoral thesis, while the respondent answers and defends their work. The faculty opponent can choose which questions to ask and in which parts of the thesis the focus is placed. But the questions should normally focus on highlighting the most important contributions in the respondent's work, the relevance of this and any inaccuracies and misconceptions. The questions can vary from more general to more detailed. The idea is that the respondent will have the opportunity to show knowledge and understanding within their subject area. When the discussion is over, the faculty opponent usually summarizes the main impressions of the public defence.
When the discussion between the faculty opponent and the respondent has been completed, the members of the examining committee have the opportunity to ask questions and give comments. After this, the audience also has the opportunity to ask questions before the chairman of the public defence ends the session. There is no formal time limit for how long a public defence act lasts, but normally it lasts for about two to three hours.
When the public defence is over, the members of the examining committee meet to discuss and finally cast their votes. The faculty opponent and often the supervisor and chairman of the public defence are also present at the meeting. The members of the examining committee can request input regarding the respondent's work from the opponent and supervisor, but only the members of the examining committee may vote if the respondent is approved or not. After the vote, the outcome is announced by the chairman of the examining committee.
Example of a public defence act
- The chairman of the public defence presents the participants and their roles.
- Introduction of the faculty opponent, places the doctoral thesis in its context.
- Introduction by the respondent of the most important results.
- - - - - a short break - - - - - - -
- The main discussion and the defence (faculty opponent and respondent).
- Some further questions and comments from the examining committee
- Additional questions and comments from the audience may occur.
- The chairman of the public defence concludes the session.
- The examining committee meets behind closed doors. The opponent, the supervisor and the chairman of the public defence often attend the meeting.
- The result of the vote in the examining committee's meeting is announced orally.