PhD Studies at the Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences

The most up-to-date general information about PhD studies can be found on the Faculty and University web pages.

ADOPTED by the Council of the Faculty of Science and Technology on 08 September 2022 (effective as of 29 August 2022)

Procedure of progress review of learners in doctoral studies at the Faculty of Science and Technology

I.    General principles

1.    Based on chapter II.5 of Regulations for Doctoral Studies (‘regulations’), the following procedure of progress review (‘procedure’) is established at the Faculty of Science and Technology.
2.    The assessment of the progress of a learner in doctoral studies (doctoral student or external student) is based on the fulfilment of the compulsory activities of the module of research, development and creative activities and the study module of the doctoral programmes of the faculty. Progress is assessed based on the individual plan and period plan, which must include all compulsory activities specified in the doctoral programme.
3.    At the progress review meeting, the progress review committee assesses the progress of doctoral students matriculated to doctoral programmes as well as doctoral students matriculated to doctoral curricula opened before the 2022/2023 academic year, taking into account the criteria specified in this procedure.

II.    Rules of procedure of the progress review committee

4.    On the proposal of the institutes, the faculty’s vice dean for research approves the composition of progress review committees and their chairs, who are elected from among the committee members.
5.    The progress review committee consists of at least three members who hold a doctoral degree or equivalent qualification. At least one committee member must be from outside the institute managing the curriculum or specialisation of the doctoral programme.
6.    The progress review committee has the quorum if at least three members with the right to vote attend the meeting. The member of the progress review committee is obliged to participate in voting except in the case specified in clause 69 of the regulations. The member of the review committee cannot abstain from voting. A decision is adopted if more than half of the committee members with the right to vote have voted in favour.
7.    The council of the institute organising the meeting decides on the form of the progress review meeting (public or closed).

III.    Progress review

8.    The learner in doctoral studies submits a progress review report approved by him/herself and the supervisor(s), a period plan, and materials showing actual research work (e.g. manuscripts of articles and monograph chapters, articles published and accepted for publication during the progress review period, the description of the methodology, an overview of experimental data). The individual plan must be submitted for the first progress review of the first year and thereafter if it needs to be changed.
9.    The learner in doctoral studies and at least one of his/her supervisors must be present at the progress review. If the supervisor in charge cannot participate in the progress review meeting, the supervisor in charge submits his/her written assessment of the progress of the learner in doctoral studies to the chair of the progress review committee and the supervisee by the beginning of the progress review meeting. Other supervisors may also submit their opinion in writing. In the case of justified reasons, based on an application by the learner in doctoral studies, the review committee may give the learner permission not to participate in the meeting.
10.    The chair of the committee appoints a reviewer from among the committee members for the learner in doctoral studies; the reviewer thoroughly reviews the materials the learner in doctoral studies has sent to the committee and gives an assessment of the learner’s progress. If necessary, the chair of the committee may also appoint a reviewer from outside the committee.
11.    At the progress review meeting, the progress review committee allows both the learner in doctoral studies and the supervisor to give feedback on their cooperation without the other party being present.
12.    In its decision, the progress review committee provides the learner in doctoral studies with written feedback, including, if necessary, suggestions and recommendations for the successful continuation of the doctoral project.
13.    If necessary, the progress review committee provides the supervisors of the learner in doctoral studies with written feedback, including suggestions and recommendations for improving the quality of supervision.
14.    More serious problems encountered during the progress review are reported to the head of unit by the programme director or the representative of the specialisation.

IV.    Assessment of the progress of learners in doctoral studies in doctoral programmes opened from the 2022/2023 academic year

15.    At the end of the first semester of the first year of study, the research and studies of a learner in doctoral studies are assessed positively if the learner in doctoral studies
15.1.    has made an individual plan, incl. a preliminary publication plan, and a preliminary outline of the thesis data or how the data will be collected;
15.2.    has made a realistic period plan for successful progress in the second semester of the first year of studies;
15.3.    and the supervisor have clarified their expectations of cooperation in an interview, using the expectations formulation worksheet. At the first progress review, the progress review committee asks questions about the results of the interview.
16.    At the end of the first year of study, the research and studies of a learner in doctoral studies are assessed positively if the learner in doctoral studies
16.1.    demonstrates having started work on the doctoral thesis, e.g. has completed the first draft of at least one research article or monograph (at least 1/5 of the planned volume of the thesis), or has developed or selected a data collection methodology, collected the first data and decided on how to use them (article, utility model, etc.);
16.2.    has presented the results of his/her work orally at least once to a wider audience, e.g. at a doctoral seminar of the specialisation, a research colloquium, an extended doctoral seminar, a scientific conference, has actively participated in the seminars of the faculty;
16.3.    as a junior research fellow, has fulfilled other contractual duties (not directly related to doctoral thesis) agreed in the individual plan during the progress review period;
16.4.    in the programmes “Life and Earth Sciences”, “Mathematics and Computer Science”, “Engineering and Technology” and in the specialisation “Space Research and Technology” of the programme “Chemical and Physical Sciences”, has completed the course “Introduction to Doctoral Studies in Science and Technology” by the end of the first year of study.
17.    At the end of the second year of study, the research and studies of a learner in doctoral studies are assessed positively if the learner in doctoral studies
17.1.    has presented the results of his/her work orally at least twice during the studies to a wider audience, e.g. at a doctoral seminar of the specialisation, a research colloquium, an extended doctoral seminar, a scientific conference, has actively participated in the seminars of the faculty;
17.2.    has demonstrated progress in compiling the doctoral thesis, i.e. has submitted one research article qualifying for the defence of the doctoral thesis to a journal and started writing the second article or has completed at least 1/3 of the monograph and clarified the structure of the monograph. In the case of experimental work where data are collected over a longer period, the student has gathered the material of at least two research articles, except in the programme “Chemical and Physical Sciences”;
17.3.    has demonstrated progress with other activities of the module of research, development and creative activities, i.e. has passed on knowledge during studies through teaching, supervision of student theses and popularisation of their specialisation;
17.4.    has demonstrated progress with the completion of the study module, i.e. has completed half of the courses developing professional and generic competences during the studies or has otherwise achieved the learning outcomes of the module;
17.5.    as a junior research fellow, has fulfilled contractual duties agreed in the individual plan during the progress review period.
18.    At the end of the third year of study, the research and studies of a learner in doctoral studies are assessed positively if the learner in doctoral studies
18.1.    has presented the results of his/her work orally at least three times during the studies to a wider audience, e.g. at a doctoral seminar of the specialisation, a research colloquium, an extended doctoral seminar, a scientific conference, has actively participated in the seminars of the faculty;
18.2.    has achieved at least one of the following in terms of progress with the doctoral thesis:
2.3. has completed at least two relevant research articles qualifying for the defence of a doctoral thesis, one of which has been formally accepted for publication and the other has been submitted to a journal;
18.2.2. has completed 3/4 of the monograph and submitted one relevant research article qualifying for the defence of a doctoral thesis to a journal;
18.3.    has demonstrated progress with other activities of the module of research, development and creative activities, i.e. has passed on knowledge during studies through teaching, supervision of student theses and popularisation of their specialisation;
18.4.    has demonstrated progress with the completion of the study module, i.e., has completed most of the courses developing professional and generic competences during the studies;
18.5.    as a junior research fellow, has fulfilled contractual duties agreed in the individual plan during the progress review period.
18.6.    as a learner in doctoral studies in the specialisation “Molecular Biosciences” of the programme “Life and Earth Sciences”, has completed the study module.
19.    The research and studies of a learner in doctoral studies in the fourth year of study are assessed positively if the doctoral thesis manuscript has been completed in line with the requirements of the regulations and the compulsory activities of the modules of the doctoral programme have been completed.
20.    If doctoral studies are planned to last more than four years according to the individual plan, progress is assessed based on the minimum requirements set out above, taking them into account over a longer period.

V.    Assessment of the progress review of learners in doctoral studies in doctoral curricula opened before the 2022/2023 academic year

21.    The progress of the learner in doctoral studies in research is expressed in credit points. The share of research in doctoral studies amounts to 180 ECTS, divided as follows:
21.1.    by the end of the first semester, a thorough plan of the doctoral thesis and an assessment of its feasibility is submitted, up to 12 ECTS;
21.2.    up to 123 ECTS may be given for articles or parts of monographs accepted for publication or already published. One article or part of a monograph taken into account as part of a doctoral thesis will give up to 41 ECTS, preferably divided as follows: 18 ECTS when the substantive work has been completed (result is available), 15 ECTS are added when the text of the article is ready for publication, and the last 8 ECTS are added when the article is accepted for publication;
21.3.    up to 37 ECTS are given for other research activities. When awarding credit points, the following can be taken into account: the acquisition of methodology, participation in international or local conferences and seminars (if no credit points are awarded for this in the relevant course), publication of other research articles, editing of collections, popular‐ science activities, etc.;
21.4.    The finalisation of the doctoral thesis gives 8 ECTS. The supervisor makes a proposal to the progress review committee to award the ECTS to the doctoral student. The progress review committee approves or changes the number of ECTS to be awarded, and the supervisor enters the ECTS in the Study Information System.
22.    The following exceptions apply to the progress review of learners in doctoral studies at the Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences:
22.1.    the acquisition of methodology mentioned in clause 21.3 and the substantive work mentioned in clause 21.2 are not assessed; instead, the report must include an up to a 3‐ page description of the incomplete manuscript;
22.2.    the period plan compiled for the second year of study must include the requirement that by the end of the study year, the learner in doctoral studies must submit the manuscript of at least one relevant research article that meets the standards of an international scientific journal and to which the learner has contributed by at least one third. The manuscript must be properly formatted and at least 2/3 of the manuscript must be completed, incl. an introduction, background of the study, description of the material and methodology, and results, as well as at least the main points of discussion and conclusions. Failure to complete the period plan is considered as incomplete fulfilment of the part of research, which will be reflected in the ECTS awarded by the committee for the research;
22.3.    the period plan compiled for the third year of study must include the requirement that by the end of the academic year, the learner in doctoral studies must have submitted the manuscripts of two articles for publication, whereas the learner must be the lead author of one of them. Failure to complete the period plan is considered an incomplete fulfilment of the part of research, which will be reflected in the ECTS awarded by the committee for the research.
23.    In the progress review of learners in doctoral studies matriculated before the 2018/2019 academic year, up to 135 ECTS may be given in the assessment of research for articles or parts of monographs accepted for publication or already published. An article or part of a monograph taken into account as part of a doctoral thesis gives up to 45 ECTS, preferably divided as follows: 22 ECTS when the substantive work has been done (result is available), 15 ECTS are added when the text of the article is ready for publication, and the last 8 ECTS are added when the article is accepted for publication.
24.    The procedure takes effect on 29 August 2022.
 

Adopted in Faculty Council 13.09.2018

Student's research progress is expressed in credit points. 
The research component of the PhD program is 180 ECTS credits, which will be assessed as 
follows:

  1. Detailed plan of the PhD work, and its feasibility assessment will be presented by the end of the first semester up to 12 ECTS.
  2. For published or accepted papers and/or parts of monographs up to 123 ECTS. One publication, which will be part of the PhD thesis, is worth up to 41 ECTS. The recommended partitioning is as follows: 18 ECTS – if substantive work has been done (results obtained); 15 ECTS – if the text is ready to be submitted; the last 8 ECTS – upon acceptance by the publisher.
  3. Other scientific activities for up to 37 ECTS. This may include e.g. adoption of new methodologies, presentations at international or local conferences and seminars (unless already credited under tuition subjects), co-authorship in other research papers, editorial work in academic publications, popular science.
  4. Submitting and defending PhD dissertation – 8 ECTS.

The supervisor advises the evaluation committee on the amount of credited points. The 
evaluation committee confirms or modifies the amount of points awarded. 

Annex to minutes no. 9 (October 2018) of the council meeting of the Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences  
Implementing provisions applicable to PhD students of the Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences 
(matriculated 2018/2019 – 2021/2022) 

 

  1. The adoption of methodologies referred to in cl. 3 and the substantive work referred to in cl. 2 of the rules, if the paper has not been completed yet, must be described in a report of up to 3 pages.
  2. At the beginning of the second year of study, the following requirement is included in the doctoral student's  second‐year  plan:  by  the  end  of  the  academic  year  the  doctoral  student  will  submit  the manuscript  of  at  least  one  relevant  article  that  meets  the  standards  of  an  international  scientific journal, and the doctoral student’s contribution to the article is at least one third. The manuscript must be in proper format and at least two‐thirds completed, comprising an introduction, background to the research, description of material and methodology, breakdown of results and at least the main points of discussion and conclusion. Upon failure to comply with the plan, the research component will be deemed insufficient and evaluated accordingly by the progress review committee.
  3. At the beginning of the third year of study, the following requirement is included in the doctoral student’s third‐year plan: by the end of the academic year the doctoral student will have submitted the first two articles for publication, incl. one article in which the doctoral student is the first author. If the student fails to comply with the plan, the research part will be deemed insufficient and evaluated accordingly by the progress review committee.

The documents, finalised thesis and publications (if there are accepted papers that have not yet been published, add the letters of acceptance) must be presented at least 10 working days before the council of the institute electronically to margret.sisask@ut.ee and to the head of the department where the work was done.

Meeting times of the Council

The applicant must present the following documents:

  1. The application (in Estonian)
  2. A curriculum vitae, including the publications and patents either in the thesis or related to it
  3. The supervisor's or supervisors' written evaluation(s) on the originality of the thesis, the contribution of the doctoral candidate and compliance of the thesis to the substantive and formal requirements
  4. A popular scientific short summary (up to 2000 characters) intended for the general public
  5. A table with the data about the defence. NB! All the information must be known by the time of the submission (10 working days before the council), including the name, position and the university of the opponent, the time and place of the defence, and the additional members of the defence committee (with their consent)
  6. Please also add the reverse title page of the thesis; the data yet unknown (e.g., the number) will remain blank

The additional members of the committee are the people who are not members of the institute council but should be part of the defence committee. The proposal for the additional members is made by the supervisor, or the head of the chair or the department.

 

Regulations for applying for a doctorate

 

Rules of the procedure of the Council of Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences, Extract

Approved by the Council of the Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences on 18 January 2016,

amended on 26 August 2020

amended on 11 October 2021

 

16. The council of the Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences awards doctoral degrees in accordance with the Regulations for Doctoral Studies of the University of Tartu and the terms and conditions laid down in these rules of procedure.

17. A doctoral thesis is usually an integrated collection of research publications which generally includes three research articles and a summarising review article. In this case, the research articles must meet the following requirements:

17.1. articles in leading international peer-reviewed scientific journals of the field of research, which have an international panel, are internationally distributed, indexed in several international databases and open to contributions (ETIS publication categories 1.1 and 1.2); articles or chapters in publications of recognised international research publishing houses (ETIS publication category 3.1); a monograph published by an internationally recognised research publishing house (ETIS publication category 2.1).

17.2. At least two of the three research articles (one article in the field of education) must have been published or accepted for publishing by a journal of category 1.1 or 3.1 in the ETIS classification. The third article may not have been accepted by a journal but in this case it must have been peer-reviewed by an international research publication of category 1.1 or 3.1; alternatively, the manuscript may be reviewed by two internationally recognised independent researchers appointed by the council. Considering the reviews and the doctoral candidate’s response to them, the council decides whether the manuscript qualifies as part of the thesis.

17.3. The doctoral candidate must be the lead author of at least one article published or accepted for publishing in a research publication of category 1.1 or 3.1 of the ETIS classification (in the field of education, of the article described in clause 17.1).

18. If an article included in the doctoral thesis has not been accepted by a journal or has not been peer-reviewed by the editorial board of a leading international research journal or collection, the doctoral student must submit the manuscript of the article and the request for the appointment of peer reviewers for the article at least two months before the decision is made on accepting the doctoral thesis for defence. The request must contain information on the article submission process to date, or a plan for submission to journals.

19. In the case described in clause 18, after receiving the request, the council chair appoints an internal reviewer from among members of the council, eliminating members affiliated with the same unit. The internal reviewer makes a proposal to the council to appoint international reviewers. The internal reviewer assesses the article, the reviews of the article and the author’s replies to them, and sends a summary opinion on the article to the council and the doctoral candidate. After the doctoral

thesis has been submitted to the council, the internal reviewer will review the doctoral thesis as a whole.

20. The doctoral candidate must submit the following documents electronically to the council secretary 10 working days before the meeting:

20.1. an application to accept the doctoral thesis for defence, specifying the exact title of the doctoral degree applied for;

20.2. the text of the doctoral thesis, which complies with the requirements established for manuscripts by the University of Tartu Press;

20.3. a curriculum vitae containing the list of research publications related to or forming a part of the doctoral thesis;

20.4. (a) written opinion(s) of the supervisor(s) on the originality of the doctoral thesis, the contribution of the doctoral candidate and compliance with the requirements of the content and form of the doctoral thesis;

20.5. a brief popular science summary (up to 2,000 characters) of the doctoral thesis aimed at a broad audience in Estonian and English.

21. The council of the institute makes the decision to accept or not to accept the thesis for defence, to demand the reformulation and correction of the thesis, or to send it to an external reviewer based on the opinion of the internal reviewer. The council chair appoints the internal reviewer from among members of the council after the doctoral thesis has been submitted, eliminating the members affiliated with the same unit.

22. The meeting where the council decides on accepting a thesis for defence contains the following parts:

22.1. The council chair or head of department introduces the doctoral candidate.

22.2. Internal reviewer presents an opinion or the internal reviewer’s written opinion is introduced.

22.3. Discussion.

22.4. The council makes a decision.

23. After the thesis has been accepted for defence, the doctoral candidate presents to the council, in addition to the electronic text, at least 30 printed copies of the thesis.

24. The defence is usually organised by the department/centre in which the doctoral thesis was written. Defences of doctoral theses of the Estonian Marine Institute are organised by the Department of Zoology.

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