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Procedure for public defense

A public defense of a dissertation at Åbo Akademi University goes as follows:

  • The Respondent, Custos and Opponent enter, in a designated order, the auditorium where the public defense is going to take place.
  • The dress code is agreed upon beforehand, with all participants wearing uniform attire as follows:
    • Men: Black tailcoat with a black waistcoat and white tie. No patent leather shoes, white pocket square or gloves. Alternative: Academicals or a black suit without decorations.
    • Women: Long black gown or long black skirt (Alternative: Finely tailored coat and skirt), white blouse and black jacket, pantsuit, black shoes. No gloves or handbags.
  • If the Custos and Opponent have a doctoral degree, they carry their doctoral hats in their left hand when entering the auditorium. The hat is placed on the table (with the lyre towards the audience) during the public defense.
  • The Respondent, Custos and Opponent take their seats in the order in which they enter, after which the Custos stands up to announce that the public defense has commenced. The Custos states which subject the defense refers to, introducing the Respondent, Opponent and him or herself (in Swedish) and, where applicable, stating that permission has been granted to use a language other than Swedish during the defense. The Custos concludes the announcement with the words “As Custos on behalf of Åbo Akademi University I declare that the public defense of the dissertation has commenced”. After this, the Custos sits down and signals the Respondent to rise.
  • The Respondent delivers a lectio praecursoria on the subject pertaining to the dissertation. The lectio might, for example, present the research area as well as the research work and method used for the dissertation. The lectio begins with the salutation: “Honoured Custos, honoured Opponent, ladies and gentlemen”. The Respondent may sit down after this opening phrase. The lectio should last 15-20 minutes.
  • Upon completion of the lectio, the Respondent may submit a list of misprints to the Opponent. This list may also be distributed to the audience.
  • Standing, the Respondent completes his or her lectio with the words: “I call upon the Opponent appointed by the dean (Faculty Council) to make any comments that he or she finds that my dissertation gives rise to.” If the defense continues in a language other than Swedish, the above phrase should also be said in the language in question. The Respondent remains standing.
  • The Opponent stands and makes a brief (no more than 15 minutes) general statement, which explains the nature of the dissertation subject and its importance to research. The dissertation should not be evaluated at this stage. After this, the Opponent and Respondent take their seats.
  • At the beginning of the actual examination, the Opponent deals with general and methodological questions as well as other aspects which are important to the assessment of the dissertation, after which the Opponent begins the examination in detail. The Opponent should strive to pose clearly defined questions and engage in an active dialogue with the Respondent.
  • The Custos presides over the examination and sees to it that the Respondent is given an opportunity to reply immediately to every comment and ensure that the  c­ommen­ts stick to the point. The Custos calls the proceedings to order if the Opponent and the Respondent repeatedly speak at the same time.
  • If the examination seems to be taking too long, the Custos may allow a short break to be taken from the defense proceedings.
  • The Opponent concludes the examination by rising and providing a summarised opinion of the dissertation. The Respondent rises and listens to the opinion while standing. The Opponent states whether the dissertation can be accepted or not, such as in the following manner: “With respect to the dissertation and the defense, I am hereby able to recommend to the Faculty Council that the dissertation be accepted for its aim.”
  • Still standing, the Respondent thanks the Opponent for their comments. Then, the Opponent and Respondent take their seats.
  • The Respondent, still seated, addresses the audience: “I call upon those present who for their part would like to comment on my dissertation to ask the Custos for permission to speak.”
  • If no one else wishes to speak or if the time prescribed for the defense has run out, the Custos rises to declare the conclusion of the public defense: “The public defense of the dissertation is hereby concluded.”

Updated 14.8.2019