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Thesis structure and public defence procedure

Structure of the thesis

The structure of the doctoral thesis should be that of a so-called compilation thesis. That is, a summary of scientific articles written by the PhD student alone or jointly with one or more other people [with the articles appended after the summary]. Theses in the form of one unified, coherent scientific work (monograph thesis) may be allowed as an exception, following a specific application to the Research Studies Board.

The Research Studies Board finds compilation theses preferable to monograph theses since the publication of previously completed articles in internationally recognised scientific journals involves an assurance of quality [through peer review].

The components of a doctoral thesis should be written in English, but the summary may be written in Swedish.

A short summary in Swedish written in layperson’s terms

This is strongly recommended but not an official requirement.


The design of the dissertation’s cover and layout needs to be within the graphic profile of Lund University.

Title page 

A loose-leaf title page must be included in each copy of the thesis. The title page includes the opponent’s name, academic title and place of residence. It also announces the time and place of the public defence. The PhD student writes the dissertation title page themself; there is no template.

List of publications

A list of the articles/manuscripts included in the thesis must be included in each copy, preferably following the table of contents.


A brief loose-leaf abstract in English must be included with the doctoral thesis. The PhD student fills in a document template. The Faculty of Medicine recommends printing the sheet on the back of the title page (see above), to include in each copy of the thesis. This fulfils the requirement that the short English-language abstract be attached to each doctoral thesis. 


To avoid any legal repercussions, it is advisable to obtain authorisation from the copyright holder/publisher to reprint your articles. This also applies to electronic registration and publication. Check the agreement with the journal/publisher.
Lund University Library has information on publishing agreements for articles in a compilation thesis, learn more about that here: Copyright | LUND UNIVERSITY LIBRARY

ISBN number

As a rule, published books and theses must have a publishing number – an ISBN (International Standard Book Number). This is emailed to the PhD student in conjunction with the official decision regarding the public defence.

ISSN number

ISSN number 1652-8220 applies to all theses at the Faculty of Medicine.

Serial publication

The published thesis is part of the Lund University Faculty of Medicine Doctoral Dissertations Series. The PhD student is assigned an unique serial number for the thesis, also sent them by e-mail.

Printing and dissemination of the thesis
All doctoral theses should be printed internally within Lund University. More information about printing can be found here:

  • Media-Tryck, Lund University’s printing and design agency Contact person: Richard Ringhov, Tel: 046-222 91 76. Media-Tryck is Lund University’s printing and design agency and offers all doctoral students the free course To format and deliver a print-ready thesis as a PDF. Register for the course at Media-Tryck's website, above. Media-Tryck also provides you with a thesis template in Microsoft Word to facilitate the writing process.

    If another printing company is used, information about framework agreements can be found on the university's website:
  • Purchasing and procurement 

Duplication and distribution of doctoral theses

The doctoral thesis must be made available at the University in a sufficient number of copies to enable an assessment of the thesis at the public defence, at minimum 25 copies.

No later than three weeks before the defence date, the doctoral thesis is submitted and distributed by the doctoral student/department as follows:

  • 3 copies are submitted to Lund University Library at Helgonabacken (UB), for lending and archival purposes. The University Library no longer sends the thesis to the six other compulsory delivery libraries; this is now done by the printers according to law. The desk officer at the University Library receives and provides a receipt that the thesis has been submitted to UB Helgonabacken. There is no need to book an appointment.
  • 1 copy is submitted the same day to Anette Saltin’s mailbox between Forum Medicum and BMC F11 (through the main entrance of Forum Medicum, on the left, under/behind the stairs),  , with the receipt from UB Helgonabacken attached. If time allows, the thesis and receipt may instead be internally posted to Anette Saltin, BMC F12, pick-up point 66. A written announcement of the public defence is organized by the PhD Studies Office, containing the time and place of the public defence, the doctoral student's name, the title of the thesis, the subject of the defence, and the names of the opponent and chairperson of the seminar.
  • About 8 copies are sent by the doctoral student to the opponent, the members and deputies of the examination committee, the chairperson of the defence, the supervisors.

Electronic registration and publication of the thesis

The electronic registration is made by the doctoral student themself, in order to increase dissemination and awareness, and is then approved by the PhD Studies Office. Read about how to register your summary on the University Library's website. Learn more about registration of doctoral theses at Lund University Libraries’ website.

Dissertations at the Faculty of Medicine that are registered electronically are compiled on the Lund University Research Portal, LUCRIS.

The registration of the thesis is a complement to the “nailing” of the physical book, and must take place three weeks before the public defence. Information about your defence and thesis is also entered into LUCRIS. The password for registration is your Lucat ID.

When registering, you should upload the electronic pdf version of the summary that you receive from the printer. Articles included in the thesis that are not published/accepted should not be uploaded. If unpublished data is uploaded into LUCRIS, problems may arise with journals during later publication.

Plagiarism check is mandatory and must be carried out on the thesis’ summary (kappa) and on all manuscripts before the defence of the thesis or licentiate examination. Published articles are not included in the plagiarism check. (It is also a strong recommendation to exclude references that will provide a 100% match when checking.) It is the responsibility of the supervisor to make sure that the plagiarism check is carried out and that a certification is sent together with the resulting digital analysis to the PhD Studies Office (the address can be found on the certificate) no later than six weeks before the public defence. 

The Research Studies Board recommends that you continuously review your material in the digital plagiarism checking system during the course of your doctoral programme, in collaboration with your supervisor. The certificate is however only required in connection with the examination (licentiate or doctoral degree).

Certification of Plagiarism Check

The plagiarism checks are carried out using the software Ouriginal (formerly Urkund), for which Lund University has a campus licence. 

Log in here: Login - OURIGINAL ( Choose Single sign-on and "Lund University" in the list. Log in with your Lucat ID. More detailed information about log-in procedure can be found at the dedicated page on Urkund (swe).
As stated in the instructions, there is no exact percentage that proves plagiarism, but it is required that the supervisor analyzes the results and makes an assessment. Deliberate plagiarism is very rare, but if there is a suspicion of it, the supervisor can contact the chairperson of the Research Studies Board Karin Jirström (karin [dot] jirstrom [at] med [dot] lu [dot] se (karin[dot]jirstrom[at]med[dot]lu[dot]se)) for further analysis. Contact can be made through Emma Idman (emma [dot] roybon [at] med [dot] lu [dot] se (emma[dot]roybon[at]med[dot]lu[dot]se)).

The dissertation grant (SEK 32,000 +OH) is transferred from the PhD Studies Office to the department for remuneration to the opponent and to offset the costs of preparing for the dissertation.

The opponent's honorary is SEK 15,000. Travel and hotel costs (usually two overnight stays) are also reimbursed.
The faculty's contribution to the printing of the thesis (production costs) is what remains of the SEK 32,000 after the opponent's costs have been paid. If the costs of printing the thesis are higher, the difference needs to be covered by the department. The PhD student should therefore always consult the head of department in good time about the structure of the thesis, language review and other costs in connection with the completion of the thesis.

As the PhD student receives invoices for printing, proofreading, transcription, etc. these are submitted to the department secretary who arranges payment.

The summary is usually between 50-100 pages long, not including references. It should contain at least 100 references and fulfil the following requirements. 

The summary:

  • must provide an up-to-date description of the area of specialisation and topic of the thesis, as well as how the thesis work fits into this context.
  • must be written independently by the doctoral student, and describe the student's contribution to the different projects/articles, within their common context.
  • must demonstrate that the doctoral student has achieved the specific subject knowledge.
  • must include a critical description and discussion of the methods used, as well as of possible alternative methods.
  • should integrate the results achieved into the relevant research area.
  • should state what the thesis has contributed to within the area of specialisation.
  • must describe how the results of the thesis are beneficial, and propose subsequent research.

Suggestions for headings to include in the summary:

  • Abstract –  about 250-300 words
  • Abbreviations – the most significant ones
  • Popular scientific summary – a short summary in layperson’s terms
  • the overall purpose of the thesis
  • the subject’s history and previously published results in the field
  • description of methods – highlighting which methods are important to your thesis work, and any original methods developed during the work
  • the most significant results
  • broad discussion
  • conclusion, and perspectives on future development
  • References
  • Acknowledgements

An appointed chairperson leads the public defence. The process can be divided into the following three parts. 

  1. Presentation: The opponent normally gives a brief account of the content of the thesis, and the doctoral student answers questions. This usually takes the form of a dialogue between the doctoral student and the opponent.
  2. Comments and questions: The discussion is opened up and under the direction of the chairperson, the members of the examination committee and other audience members ask questions and make comments on the thesis.
  3. The doctoral student's response: The student should be given the opportunity to respond to each comment and question.

When all comments and questions have been addressed, the chairperson declares the defence closed.

The time period should not be limited

From the PhD student's perspective, it is worthwhile that a research project lasting several years –examined with only a passing or failing grade – receives the attention it deserves, and is penetrated as comprehensively as possible. The public defence should therefore not be limited in time. The chairperson can decide on a break if the defence is prolonged.

The examination process

The examination committee normally meets immediately after the defence and reaches quorum (is adequate to make an official decision) only when all of its members are present. The examination committee appoints one of its members to chair their post-defence meeting. The principal supervisor must be present, but may not participate in the decision. The opponent usually also participates in this meeting.

Examination criteria

The doctoral thesis is assessed with a grade of either pass or fail. In awarding the grade, the examination committee takes into account the content of the thesis and its defence. The committee's task during the defence is to examine the doctoral student's competence. The committee makes its assessment in light of the opponent's viewpoints, and the account of the content and defence of the thesis. The committee's official decision is that of most of its members. The reasoning behind the decision is not explained in the meeting minutes or any other documents, except in the case of a thesis receiving a failing grade. The minutes from the examination committee’s meeting are sent to the PhD Studies Office.