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Information for Further Members of a Doctoral Commission

You have been asked to act as a further member of a doctoral commission?

On this page you will find information on the role of the further members – i.e. the members who do not submit a written assessment of the thesis – in doctoral procedures in the Department of Political and Social Sciences, their appointment by the competent Committee for Doctoral Examinations and the requirements defined by the regulations for the conduct of doctoral examinations. Should you have any further questions the team of the Early Career Support will be glad to help.

Role of the "Further Members" in a Doctoral Commission

Usually the potential further members in a doctoral commission will be approached by the doctoral candidate due to their expertise in the field when the doctoral thesis is in the final phase. You will not be expected to advise the candidate during the writing process. You will have to grade the candidate´s performance (doctoral thesis and oral examination), participate in the meetings of the doctoral commission and have the same vote as the reviewers do in all decisions drawn by the commission.

Instalment of the Doctoral Commission

If you agree to participate in a doctoral commission the candidate will propose you as prospective member of her/his commission when applying for the opening of the doctoral procedure. The competent Committee for Doctoral Examinations will then draw their decision on the appointment of the commission members in accordance with the regulations for the conduct of doctoral examinations. As soon as they have been installed by the committee, the Early Career Support will provide all commission members with a letter confirming the decision of the committee and a copy of the doctoral thesis

Assessment and Period of Stasis

The reviewers, i.e. the supervisor and a second assessor, will submit their reports to the Ear­ly Career Support within the assessment period of ten weeks and they will put their reports at the disposal of all commission members and the doctoral candidate who will need it in order to prepare for the defense.

The three non-reporting members represent the majority of the commission and they could outvote the reviewers in agreements on grades. Consequently they have to read the thesis with the same care that the reviewers employ, weigh up the thesis´ strengths and weaknes­ses, take the reviewers´ evaluation into account and form their own opinion.

They should be able to state their judgement and argue their points during the meeting – usually taking place on the day of the defense – in which the doctoral commission decides whether the thesis should be accepted, returned to the candidate for necessary amendments or rejected. Especially when discussing and deciding on the appropriate grade by simple majority, every commission members´ thorough knowledge of the thesis and the soundness of their considerations may prove decisive.

As soon as both reviews have been submitted to the Early Career Support, a period of stasis will begin during which all professors and post docs in our faculty may read the thesis, be informed of the grades that have been proposed by the reviewers and submit their own statements which in turn have to be included in the doctoral file. During the lecture period the period of stasis has a length of two weeks, during the lecture-free period it is extended to four weeks.

Oral Examination and Agreement on the Grades

Once the period of stasis has ended the oral examination can take place and the doctoral commission can agree on the grades for the candidate´s performance (doctoral thesis, oral examination and overall grade).

The chair of the doctoral commission will make arrangements for the defense date and invite the doctoral candidate as well as the members of the commission to the defense.

The commission members need to prepare for a defense as well, as they will have to put re­levant questions to the respective candidates and enter into a discussion on the topic of the thesis, the presented findings and their significance for the broader scientific field with them.

The period of time needed to read a doctoral thesis and prepare for its defense has been estimated very differently by about a dozen polled post-docs and professors, varying from one half to four full work days.