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FAQs Doctoral Studies

This page addresses questions about the various phases of doctoral studies leading to the degrees Dr. med., Dr. med. dent. and Dr. sc. hum. You will find information about:

  • admission as a doctoral candidate
  • admission to the doctoral graduation procedure
  • the dissertation review process
  • the oral examination
  • publication
  • the doctoral certificate
  • and more.

For information about the PhD program Experimental Medicine, please click here.

Overview FAQs

Admission as a Doctoral Candidate

Initiation of the doctoral graduation procedure (submission of the dissertation)

The dissertation review process

Oral examination (thesis defense)

Publication of the dissertation

The doctoral certificate

Other questions

Admission as a Doctoral Candidate

Prerequisites: You must have completed M1, the first section of the German Medical Licensing Examination, and you must have found a supervisor and agreed on a dissertation project.

 

To do: Fill out the application for admission as a doctoral candidate and turn it in or mail it to the Office of Doctoral Affairs along with the necessary documents (copy of M1 certificate and the signed supervision agreement).

 

Notes: As soon as you have been admitted as a doctoral candidate, your status is official. Admission is only granted after approval of your application by the Ethics Commission. Your completed application is sent to the Ethics Commission by the Office of Doctoral Affairs. Once you have been admitted as a doctoral candidate, you automatically become a member of the Graduate Academy of the University of Tübingen.

How do I go about finding a topic for my doctoral dissertation?

You have several options. You can find a topic by submitting a speculative application to a member of the Faculty of Medicine with Habilitation, the prerequisite for supervising doctoral dissertations. Be sure to include documents that say a lot about yourself, including a motivational letter, your curriculum vitae, transcripts and letters of recommendation, preferably as a single pdf file. You can also visit the Promotionsbörse, the Dissertation Fair, where laboratories which are looking for doctoral students present their research projects (see announcements on the website “Doctoral Studies at the MFT”). Or you can check the list of open doctoral positions on the website (“Open PhD positions and scholarships”).

When do I have to apply for admission as a doctoral candidate?

Immediately, as soon as you begin your research. Further informaion is found here.

What must I watch out for when I apply for admission as a doctoral candidate?

Please check carefully to make sure that you have all of the necessary documents. Incomplete applications cannot be processed. Please also familiarize yourself with the current Doctoral Degree Regulations for your degree.

Who can I turn to for help while I am doing my doctoral work?

Your most important contact person throughout your time as a doctoral candidate is your official doctoral supervisor. This person must have the Habilitation, a prerequisite for independently supervising doctoral students. In colloquial German, your official supervisor is called your “Doktorvater” or “Doktormutter.” You will sign a supervision agreement with your supervisor. Often another member of the laboratory will act as an additional supervisor.

What is an ethics vote (Ethikvotum)?

The Ethics Commission must approve every biomedical and clinical research project. For more details, see the Best Practice Guideline for your doctoral degree in the download area of the website.

Must I enroll as a student of the University of Tübingen in order to pursue a doctoral degree?

No, enrollment as a student, called “Immatrikulation” in German, is not necessary for doctoral candidates. It is an option, however, and paying the semester fees for enrollment gives you certain advantages such as a university email account/wifi login, access to subsidized semester tickets for public transportation, eligibility for student housing, etc. The prerequisite for enrolling as a doctoral student is first being accepted as a doctoral candidate by the Faculty of Medicine, and you will have to hand in the written confirmation from the faculty when you enroll. For more information about enrollment and registration as a student, please see http://www.uni-tuebingen.de/en/international/international-students-in-tuebingen/doctoral-students.html.

Can I be admitted as a doctoral candidate of the University of Tübingen if I studied at a different university?

According to § 3 (1) of the Promotionsordnung (PhD Rules / Regulations for Doctoral Studies), doctoral candidates must have studied for at least two semesters at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Tübingen or worked for at least one year at an institute or hospital of the Faculty of Medicine Tübingen before they may submit a thesis for a doctoral degree at the Faculty of Medicine Tübingen. In justified cases the Board of Doctoral Affairs may allow exceptions on the basis of a written application from the candidate. This request must be submitted before doctoral work is begun.

In order to evaluate this written application, it must include an outline of the proposed doctoral project describing:

  • where the research will be carried out,
  • why the candidate wishes to carry out the dissertation work in that particular laboratory and whether adequate resources, infrastructure and working space are ensured,
  • what the candidate’s connection to the Faculty of Medicine Tübingen is and how it came about, and
  • why the candidate wishes to submit a dissertation in Tübingen.

Additionally, we ask that you nominate an additional supervisor who will form your doctoral supervision team together with the primary supervisor.

A letter of consent from the primary supervisor must be handed in along with your application.

If you are admitted as a doctoral candidate, meetings with your supervision team must take place at least every six months during your time as a doctoral candidate, and these meetings must be documented, preferably in the doctoral logbook provided by the faculty. Documentation of at least three such meetings must be submitted when you apply to start the doctoral graduation procedure and turn in your dissertation for review. These meetings must have taken place before you begin your research, when you finish data acquisition and before you submit your thesis.

Initiation of the doctoral graduation procedure (submission of the dissertation)

Prerequisites: an independently researched and written dissertation, consent of the official doctoral supervisor to the submission of the dissertation, confirmation of participation in a course on Good Scientific Practice.

 

To do: Submit the application to initiate the doctoral graduation procedure. Please make sure you are always using the current version of the form, and check the latest list of documents. (See “Submission of doctoral thesis” form on the website of the Office of Doctoral Affairs.)

 

Notes: Once the doctoral dissertation is completed, the submission starts the actual doctoral graduation procedure (with examination). Please be aware that only complete applications can be processed.

 

How many copies of the dissertation to I need to hand in to the Office of Doctoral Affairs for review when I apply to start the graduation procedure?

 

You must prepare a total of three copies of the dissertation for the reviewers. Please hand in two copies in a sturdy springback binder at the Office of Doctoral Affairs. You can give the third copy directly to your official doctoral supervisor, who generally acts as your first reviewer.

 

Do I have to turn in the application for initiation of the doctoral graduation procedure in person at the Office of Doctoral Affairs?

 

No, you may also send all of the application documents by mail, or you may ask another person to hand them in for you. Remember that incomplete applications will be returned to you without processing.

 

How does the new plagiarism check work?

 

When submitting the mandatory paper copies of your dissertation (or as soon as possible afterwards), you must also provide us with a digital copy of your dissertation (by email to the Office of Doctoral Affairs) so that the dissertation can be checked for the inappropriate use of text written by others (the so-called “plagiarism check”, which became mandatory on May 12, 2016). On your Submission of Doctoral Thesis form, you must declare that this electronic version is identical to the paper copy that you turned in in the springback binder. You must also confirm on the form that you realize that the use of another person’s work without the appropriate acknowledgement of the source constitutes academic fraud.

After removing personal data we will analyze your dissertation with plagiarism software ("iThenticate") to identify text and data taken from other sources. In the report generated after analysis all passages which correspond to other sources are marked; the sources themselves are also given. You and your supervisor will receive a pdf of the report by email with the request to check whether all duplicated content is attributed correctly. Both of you must then sign a plagiarism statement and submit it by mail or in person during the opening hours of the Office of Doctoral Affairs. Your dissertation will not be sent out for review until this declaration is received by the Office of Doctoral Affairs.

If the report indicates that duplicated text or data have not been properly attributed, please submit an informal letter to the Office of Doctoral Affairs in which you request a revision of the dissertation. A second plagiarism check is generally not necessary.

 

Can I write my dissertation in English?

 

Yes, you may write your dissertation in German or in English. If you choose to write it in English, you must include an additional summary in German.

 

What is a “sturdy springback binder”, exactly?

 

In German these are called “Klemmbinder”, and they are available at office supply stores.

(Our tip: take a look at Wikipedia. On the English website, you can find pictures under “springback binder”; the same entry is called “Klemmbinder” on the German Wikipedia at http://de.wikipedia.org.)

 

How do I have to format the dissertation copies that I turn in for review at the Office of Doctoral Affairs?

 

We recommend the following formatting: paper size DIN A4 printed on one side of the page, line spacing 150% except for the reference list, which should be single-spaced, font Arial or Times New Roman 12 point. Legends may be single spaced and in a smaller type. Page margins should be 3 cm on all four sides.

 

Please note that the final printed copy will be reduced to DIN A5. For this reason it is highly advisable to choose a fairly large type size (12 point) and not to make the figures too small so that the pages will still be legible even after reduction to DIN A5 without changing the page layout. With the exception of the paper size the mandatory copies which you must hand in to the University Library at the end of the doctoral graduation procedure must be identical to the copies of the dissertation which you submitted for review. When you plan your figures and tables, remember that the number of color pages can increase printing costs substantially.

 

Are there rules for the structure of the dissertation?

 

Yes. Please see the instructions in the Best Practice Guideline for your degree.

 

What are the prerequisites for a cumulative dissertation?

 

In exceptional cases, publications that you wrote as first author or those which have been accepted for publication may be integrated in the dissertation. Please speak with us if some of these papers have shared first authorship.

 

Before submitting a cumulative dissertation, you must first apply for special permission from the Board of Doctoral Affairs. This application should include:

• a cover letter signed by the applicant and supervisor

• the candidate’s curriculum vitae, including university degrees

• list of publications (only including those which are already published or have been accepted for publication; otherwise a traditional dissertation in monographic form must be submitted)

• all of the publications as a pdf file

• A Declaration of Contributions for each of the publications, explaining the contribution of each of the authors to the publication. (A file with suggested wording for such a declaration is available for download from the website of the Office of Doctoral Affairs.)

Other important instructions can be found in the Best Practice Guideline for your degree. For example, if your application is approved, you must also include an introduction with summary and a discussion in your dissertation. In addition, any co-authors of your publications must consent consent to their use in the dissertation.

The dissertation review process

Prerequisites: the application for initiation of the doctoral graduation procedure and all accompanying documents must be complete

 

To do: During the review phase, which generally lasts 4-6 months, there is nothing that you can do other than waiting for a message from the Office of Doctoral Affairs informing you of the results (or the preliminary results in the form of revision requests from the reviewers). We cannot answer any questions about the status of an application while the review is in progress.

 

Notes: As a rule, the dissertation is reviewed by the official doctoral supervisor and an additional second reviewer appointed by the faculty. The doctoral supervisor may recommend an independent second reviewer. Recommendations from the doctoral candidate are not accepted. See below for more information about revision recommendations.

 

How long does the review process take?

 

The dissertation review process generally takes 4-6 months.

 

How can I find out how far along my dissertation review is?

 

The Office of Doctoral Affairs cannot answer any questions about the status of the review process until it is actually complete. We do, however, recommend that you keep in close contact with your doctoral supervisor, who may be able to tell you more.

 

What are the main reasons that dissertations are returned for revisions or corrections?

 

Before the dissertation is sent out for review:

  • The Declaration of Contributions does not make it sufficiently clear what part of the dissertation is actually the independent intellectual work of the doctoral candidate. You can download suggestions about how to word your Declaration of Contributions from the website of the Office of Doctoral Affairs.
  • The dissertation does not fulfil the minimum requirements of the faculty with respect to length, format, etc.
  • Sources are not cited adequately. This is often the case when the data from the dissertation have already been published. In this case, all previously published figures and text passages used in the dissertation must be properly marked as such, including the source.

During the review process

  • Figures and tables are not labelled clearly
  • Faulty statistics
  • Errors in citations (see the Best Practice Guideline for instructions)
  • Failure to include important literature on your dissertation topic
  • Dissertation does not reach the recommended minimum length of approx. 50 pages.

Note: The Office of Doctoral Affairs will notify you if revisions are necessary. The review process will be stopped until the revised manuscript is submitted.

Oral examination (thesis defense)

See also the “Information sheet on the oral examination” available for download from the Office of Doctoral Affairs.

 

Prerequisites: Completed review process (all reviews have been submitted and the objection period is over)

 

To do: The Office of Doctoral Affairs will send you an email notifying you that the review of your dissertation is completed. You should then contact your doctoral supervisor and discuss the organization of your thesis defense. Decide how the second reviewer (as a rule the second advisor) should be contacted, the time, date and location of your oral examination, and how it will be publicly announced.

 

Note: After the oral examination is passed, the primary supervisor must turn the examination protocol in to the Office of Doctoral Affairs.

 

Who has to take an oral examination?

 

All doctoral candidates must pass an oral examination (thesis defense). The state examination (Staatsexamen) is no longer recognized as fulfilling this requirement. This is a result of changes made in the State Higher Education Act (Landeshochschulgesetz) in April 2014 which stipulate that all doctoral graduation procedures must include an oral examination on the dissertation. Doctoral candidates who were officially admitted before July 30, 2014 and turned in their application for the initiation of the doctoral graduation procedure before July 29, 2016 along with all of the necessary paperwork have the choice between an oral examination and the so-called Rigorosum (see below). Please contact the Office of Doctoral Affairs for more information.

 

What do I need to know about the oral examination?

 

The oral examination (also called a Disputation in German) is a public defense of the thesis. If the dissertation has been given the grade “summa cum laude” or in the case of the degree “doctor of human science” (Dr. sc. hum.), three examiners are appointed and the examination is given a grade. In all other cases two examiners are present and the examination is given a “pass” or “fail.”

 

What do I need to know about the Rigorosum?

 

The Rigorosum is an oral examination in two subjects, one of which is the subject of the doctoral work. The other subject can be selected from a list which can be examined in the Office of Doctoral Affairs. In addition, you will be required to defend your thesis. This examination is not open to the public and is attended only by the examinee and the two examiners appointed by the dean. The Rigorosum is given the grade “pass” or “fail.” The Rigorosum is considered passed if the examinations in both subjects are passed, and the grade given to your dissertation becomes your overall doctoral graduation grade.

 

When can I take the oral examination?

 

Once the objection period for your dissertation is over, the Office of Doctoral Affairs will send you an email informing you that the review process for your dissertation has been officially completed and asking you to organize your oral examination within the next 6 weeks. Please contact your doctoral supervisor immediately to organize the examination. You can also ask your supervisor to inform you as soon and he or she hears that the objection period for your dissertation has begun.

 

How do I organize the oral examination?

 

The doctoral candidate is responsible for organizing the time, date and location of the defense. We recommend working with your doctoral supervisor to integrate your oral examination in a regular event at your department, such as an institute seminar series. The defense has to take place in Tübingen.

 

Who is in charge of all the logistics of an oral examination?

 

The doctoral candidate in consultation with the doctoral supervisor.

 

Who is going to examine me?

 

As a rule, the official doctoral supervisor and the second reviewer will be asked to carry out the examination. If there are scheduling problems, etc., please contact your supervisor or the Office of Doctoral Affairs to arrange the appointment of another examiner.

 

As soon as the time, place and examiners have been chosen, please notify the Office of Doctoral Affairs by email at least 2-3 weeks before the examination date. The Office of Doctoral Affairs mails out the official letters of appointment to the examiners and sends an invitation to all of the participants. The examiner who is a member of the Faculty of Medicine will be appointed chairman of the examination.

 

How do I find out who the second reviewer is?

 

At the latest when the objection period begins, because your supervisor will then know who the second reviewer is. At this time you are also welcome to send an inquiry by email to the Office of Doctoral Affairs.

 

Can I see the reviews of my dissertation?

 

You may examine the reviews of your dissertation by arrangement with the Office of Doctoral Affairs. You must come in person to the office. The reviews cannot be sent to you. You are welcome to make notes, but you may not make copies of the reviews.

 

What does that mean, a “public” examination?

 

“Public” means that all interested persons may attend the examination, and as many may come as the room will hold. Your oral examination is publicly announced, for example by hanging up a notice in your institute. Everyone may listen, but only the examiners have the right to ask questions. After the examination, you will be told the results in private.

 

What happens in the oral examination?

 

First you will present your dissertation, most commonly in the form of a PowerPoint presentation. This presentation should not be longer than 30 minutes. Afterwards, the examiners will ask you questions about your dissertation – also for a maximum of 30 minutes. Then the examiners ask everyone to leave the room so that they can discuss the examination, and when their deliberations are completed, you will be called in and told the results of the examination in private.

 

What do I need to know about my presentation of the dissertation?

 

We recommend consulting your doctoral advisor ahead of time to decide what points he or she expects you to focus on. As a basic rule of thumb, however, you should present the most important contents and results. It is always advisable to look at the reviews to see what the reviewers had to say about your dissertation. You may send an email to the Office of Doctoral Affairs to make an appointment to see the reviews.

 

Do the results of my examination have any effect on my overall grade?

 

Only if your dissertation was given the grade “summa cum laude” or you are being examined for the degree “doctor of human sciences” (Dr. sc. hum.), in which case your examination grade makes up part of your overall doctoral graduation grade. In all other cases, the examination is given a “pass” or “fail.” Your graduation is complete only if you pass the oral examination.

 

Can I repeat the examination?

 

If you fail the oral examination, you may repeat it once within 12 months of your first attempt. If you fail the examination a second time, your doctoral graduation procedure is unsuccessfully terminated.

Publication of the dissertation

Prerequisites: approval to print the dissertation from the Office of Doctoral Affairs. For Dr. med. or Dr. med. dent. you must also have successfully completed the German medical or dental licensing examination M3 (and present evidence in the form of a notarized copy of the certificate),

 

To do: Publish your dissertation following the rules of the appropriate Doctoral Regulations (Promotionsordnung).

 

How does the online publication work?

For publication, you have to submit an electoronic version of your thesis, identical to the submitted version and following the rules of the library of the University. Informationen on the procedure and consultation possiblities are found on the homepage of the library (here). With the letter of permit to publiucation ("Druckfreigabe"), you reserve a form with which your supervisor has to declare his or her agreement to publish the thesis electronically.  This has to be signed and hand in to library.

 

What format must be used for the mandatory copies of the dissertation?

 

DIN A5 paper, printed on both sides. The title page must also be printed on the cover.

 

Must the mandatory copies be printed in color?

 

If the review copies were printed in color, the mandatory copies of the dissertation must also be printed in color. Otherwise the same legibility as in the review copies (particularly that of the figures) cannot be ensured.

 

Do I have to include my curriculum vitae when the mandatory copies are printed?

 

No. Publication of your curriculum vitae is voluntary. However, if you choose to print your curriculum vitae along with your dissertation, please enter the exact date of your German medical licensing examination in the form dd/mm/yyyy.

 

May I correct spelling mistakes or faulty formatting in the mandatory copies after the review?

 

Yes. All other changes must be approved by your official doctoral advisor. In such cases, first contact the Office of Doctoral Affairs.

 

Do I hand in the mandatory copies of the dissertation in the Office of Doctoral Affairs?

 

No. The mandatory copies of the dissertation are handed in to the Dissertations Department in the main building of the University Library, Wilhelmstraße 32, 72074 Tübingen (opening hours on the website of the University Library www.ub.uni-tuebingen.de). The Office of Doctoral Affairs of the Faculty of Medicine does not require a copy. However, it is customary to give a printed copy to your first and second reviewers as a courtesy.

 

What happens to the springback binder copies of my dissertation that I turned in for review?

 

After you have received the permission to print the mandatory copies of your dissertation, you may pick up the review copies of your dissertation. They may also be picked up by a third person with your written permission. If the review copies have not been picked up within four weeks of the date on which the permission to print the mandatory copies was issued, they will be destroyed. We are not able to mail the review copies to you.

The doctoral certificate

Prerequisite: Submission of the mandatory copies and publication through the University Library. The Office of Doctoral Affairs is notified by the University Library as soon as the mandatory copies of the dissertation have been turned in.

 

When is my certificate issued?

 

The certificate is prepared as soon as the Office of Doctoral Affairs has been notified by the University Library that the dissertation has been published. It then generally takes 2 weeks to issue the certificate.

 

How do I get the certificate?

 

Please come to pick up your doctoral certificate from the Office of Doctoral Affairs during our opening hours. You may also come at a different time by prior arrangement – please contact us by email to set a date. You may also give signed written permission to a third person to pick up the certificate. In exceptional cases you may send us an email requesting us to mail you the certificate.

 

I’ve lost my doctoral certificate. Can I get a replacement?

 

We cannot issue you another original certificate. However, if you present a copy of the certificate and sign an affidavit that you have lost the original we can issue a duplicate certificate. If the original certificate turns up again you must send the duplicate certificate back to the Office of Doctoral Affairs.

 

Can the doctoral certificate be issued in English?

 

No.

Other questions

What are the main differences between the old and the new doctoral degree regulations?

 

  • Your dissertation must now undergo a mandatory plagiarism check before the doctoral graduation procedure can be initiated.
  • You must complete a course on Good Scientific Practice.
  • Grading procedures for the dissertation have been changed.
  • The inspection period for the dissertation has been shortened to two weeks.

 

The pdf file from the presentation on June 1, 2016 can be downloaded here.

 

 

Where can I find information about courses and events relevant to doctoral candidates?

 

As soon as you are accepted as a doctoral candidate of the Faculty of Medicine, you automatically become a member of its Graduate Academy. On the website of the Graduate Academy and on the ILIAS e-learning platform you can find information and announcements.

 

Is there some way of networking with other doctoral candidates?

 

The faculty is currently setting up a doctoral student council to allow representation and networking. If you have questions, please contact Ms. Montero.

 

Do I have to keep a laboratory journal?

 

Yes! A laboratory journal must be kept by each doctoral candidate. Check the website of the Office of Doctoral Affairs for recommendations on keeping a laboratory journal.

 

What happens if my supervisor leaves Tübingen?

 

If you have already been admitted as a doctoral candidate, your supervisor can continue to act as supervisor and reviewer, even if he or she has moved to another position. If your supervisor is no longer able to act as supervisor or if the supervision agreement is no longer viable, the supervision can be transferred to another faculty member with Habilitation in a similar research field. You may apply to change supervisors in an informal letter to the dean. The doctoral candidate, the original supervisor and the future supervisor must all indicate their consent by signature. You may only apply to change supervisors before applying for the initiation of the doctoral graduate procedure (submission of the dissertation).

 

What must I do to extend the deadline for turning in my dissertation?

 

Please send an informal letter to the Office of Doctoral Affairs before the deadline runs out, requesting an extension and stating the reasons for the request. Your official doctoral supervisor must also indicate consent in writing by email or letter. You will then receive written confirmation of the new deadline for turning in the dissertation. As a rule, the deadline is extended by one year.

 

And can I extend the deadline a second time?

 

In principle, you may if your supervisor agrees. The procedure is the same as in the first application for an extension (see above).

 

Can I change the title or topic of my dissertation after I have been admitted as a doctoral candidate?

 

If the change is only a matter or wording rather than of topic, you may make changes without notifying the Office of Doctoral Affairs.

 

If you make changes in topic which do not make a new ethics vote necessary, please notify the Office of Doctoral Affairs as follows:

 

I would like to notify you of a change in the title of my dissertation. I declare in agreement with my supervisor that no new ethics vote is required.

This statement must be signed by you and by your supervisor.

 

If your change of topic makes a new ethics vote necessary, you must retract your registration as a doctoral candidate and submit a new application for admission.

 

What do I need to do to change doctoral supervisors?

 

If you wish to change the official supervision agreement, you must apply for this change in the Office of Doctoral Affairs.

 

Please use the following wording:

 

I hereby request the transfer of the supervision of my doctoral dissertation with the title [insert title] by [title and name of original official doctoral supervisor] to [title and name of new official doctoral supervisor].

 

This application must be signed by you, your original supervisor and the new supervisor.

 

 

 

Last Update 17/7/2017

 






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