FAQ – The Doctoral Procedure in the Department of Informatics
Version: May 2021
The content of this document is meant for information purposes only. For the legally binding regulations please consult the Doctoral Degree Regulations. No legally binding claims can be derived from this document.
1. What do I need to know about admission to the doctoral procedure?
You need to apply timely for admission to the doctoral procedure. According to Section 4 subsect. 1 of the Doctoral Degree Regulations MIN Faculty (2018) you need to apply before you start to work on your doctoral project. The subject doctoral committee of the Department of Informatics recommends applying within the first six months but not later than nine months after you have started working as a research assistant at Universität Hamburg.
Please send the following admission documents (in accordance with Section 5 subsect. 1 Doctoral Degree Regulations MIN Faculty) by email in one single pdf file, max 10 MB, to promotion"AT"informatik.uni-hamburg.de:
- Online application form for admission to doctoral procedures (Docata)
- Research project outline (pdf form)
- Supervision agreement (pdf form)
- Copies of the university degree transcripts and certificates (with certified translations in case the original language is not German or English)
- Curriculum vitae
- Copy of the university entrance qualification
- Copy of the identification document (identity card, passport)
The MIN faculty detailed summary of all steps and requirements can be found here.
Admission to the doctoral procedures is initially valid for four years (Section 5 subsect. 5 of the Doctoral Degree Regulations MIN Faculty (2018)). Please note that your admission must be valid until the day of your oral defence (therewith until the end of the examination process). Information about when and how to request for an extension, if required, can be found in section 4 of these FAQ.
2. What is the draft of my research project supposed to look like?
Together with your application for admission you need to hand in a draft of your research project. This draft should be no longer than two pages including title and references.
The following structure of the document is recommended:
- State your topic and put it into context
- Describe the state-of-the-art of the science/technology of your topic and name the most important publications in the field
- Put down a project plan explaining how you plan to proceed and name the necessary preliminary work that needs to be carried out
- Specify the research questions that you want to address during your work
3. Do I have to officially enroll as a doctoral candidate?
Doctoral candidates must be formally enrolled at Universität Hamburg as doctoral students until they have concluded their doctoral procedure. This also applies to doctoral dissertation projects carried out externally. Enrollment must take place no later than the semester following admission. Admission shall be rescinded if a student does not enroll (Section 6 of the Doctoral Degree Regulations MIN Faculty (2018)).
4. When and how do I apply for an extension of the doctoral procedure?
Admission is initially valid for four years (Section 5 subsect. 5 of the Doctoral Degree Regulations MIN Faculty (2018)). A request for more time must be submitted to the subject doctoral committee at least three months before this deadline. The application should not exceed 1-2 pages. It needs to be filed by the doctoral student and signed by the doctoral student and all supervisors. The application should contain the following:
- The requested duration of the approval extension: The duration should not exceed one year. In duly justified cases, a further extension may be requested.
- A technical justification: Explain why there were delays. Possible reasons may be, for example, the underestimated complexity of the issue, the non-availability of important data sources, or cooperation not proceeding as planned.
- A short interim report: Describe what you have already achieved. Describe the technical results as well as publications, conference contributions, etc.
- A work plan for the activities up to the completion of the doctoral project: Please name key points in a time frame of 1-3 months that you would like to work on in the context of the extension. The work plan should end with the oral defense. Please consider a period of three months for the examination procedure (submission of the dissertation – oral defense)
If the main reason for the delay is of a non-specialist nature (e.g. childcare, care of relatives, illness), it is sufficient to point out non-specialist reasons without explaining the content. You can do this with the sentence '(Moreover) there were non-technical reasons that delayed the completion of my dissertation.' In this case, the doctoral committee assumes that the supervisor acknowledges these reasons with his/her signature. In the special case of maternity/parental leave, see point 5 of the FAQ.
The main goal of the extension application is to stimulate a discussion between you and your supervisor about the progress of the dissertation. We would like to support you in achieving the qualification goal of a doctorate in a reasonable time. Applications in the above form, which are jointly supported by the doctoral candidate and his/her supervisor, are generally approved.
5. What should I do if I take maternity/parental leave?
Displayed maternity leave and/or parental leave automatically leads to an extension of the admission period by the specified period. An informal application (e-mail), which requires no further content, with attached documents (usually from the personnel department) is sufficient.
6. What do I need to be aware of when I hand in my dissertation?
All documents in the list below must be handed in when submitting your dissertation. For documents to be handed in by email, please ensure to send them in one single pdf file (max. 10 MB) to promotion"AT"informatik.uni-hamburg.de.
- Form for submission of the dissertation (please generate in Docata, a more detailed description can be found here), by email and by post to the academic office
- Photo or scan of the signed affidavit, be email
- Dissertation (pdf, max 20 MB), to be uploaded in Docata
- 1 bound copy of the dissertation, to be sent by post to the academic office
- 1 electronic copy of the dissertation on a data carrier (CD/DVD/Blu-ray), to be attached to the bound copy
Please write your name, short title of the dissertation and the submission date on the data carrier and sign it.
Please note: The academic office currently forwards the dissertations to reviewers by email. In case one of the reviewers wishes to have a bound copy to review the dissertation, the academic office can send it by post. In such a case, please hand in a further bound copy, as described above, when submitting your dissertation.
7. Which formal requirements does my dissertation need to adhere to?
The dissertation needs to have a cover page, an empty second page, an affidavit and several attachments. The different aspects will be explained in more detail below:
- Cover page
The cover page needs to contain the following information:
- Name of the author
- Faculty and department/institution of the author
- The specification „an der Universität Hamburg eingereichte Dissertation“
- Year of submission
- A second page
The second page will later be filled with the names of the reviewers. Please note that the names of the reviewers may not yet be named in the dissertation as they will only be appointed by the subject doctoral committee after the examination process was started.
The attachment must contain:
- Summary of the results in English and in German. The contents of the summaries must be largely identical. The subject doctoral committee recommends for the summary a scope of 1-2 pages.
- List of publications that resulted from the dissertation project. In case of publications with several authors, the subject doctoral committee recommends that the contribution of the doctoral student is specified.
Please use the following wording for your affidavit (also see Section 8 subsect. 4 of the Doctoral Degree Regulations MIN Faculty (2018)): „Hiermit erkläre ich an Eides statt, dass ich die vorliegende Dissertationsschrift selbst verfasst und keine anderen als die angegebenen Quellen und Hilfsmittel benutzt habe.“ Even when your dissertation is in English you need to insert and sign the German affidavit.
8. Can I write my dissertation in a cumulative manner?
Generally, the Doctoral Degree Regulations MIN Faculty (2018) offer the possibility to submit a cumulative dissertation (see Section 8 subsect. 2). Whether a cumulative dissertation is appropriate to present the research results depends on individual conditions, especially the subject area, the coherence of the subject and the publication performance.
Non-cumulatively dissertations enable the overall presentation of research effort in a coherent way. They enable a high level of detail and also the representation of negative results. Cumulative dissertations normally need less time for the writing of the dissertation itself. Thus they could allow the pursuit of additional, potentially higher ranked publications.
We recommend to talk to your supervisor one year before submission of the dissertation at the latest to judge the pros and contras individually.
According to Section 8 subsect. 2 b of the Doctoral Degree Regulations MIN Faculty (2018), the subject doctoral committee determines the requirements for cumulative dissertations. For Informatics the following applies:
- At least three publications have to exist which can be related clearly to the doctoral topic with regard to contents. In particular, well-argued cases, the doctoral student can apply for an exception with the subject doctoral committee.
- The doctoral student should be first author or equal-contributing first author of the publications and be involved significantly in the published research results.
- The publications should appear in approved, international journals or proceedings of international conferences which pursue a strict peer-review.
- All listed publications must be accepted at the time of submission of the dissertation.
Note that your examination commission decides about the acceptance of the dissertation according to the recommendation of the reviewers (see Section 11). We therefore strongly recommend to discuss a cumulative dissertation closely and in detail with your supervisor.
Section 8 subsect. 5 of the Doctoral Degree Regulations (2018) regulates the formal standards. In addition, the subject doctoral committee recommends to include the specification "cumulative dissertation" on the title page.
Further provisions are set out in section 8 subsect. 2 of the Doctoral Degree Regulations (2018). The dissertation must have a complete title, an introduction, the single publications and also a coherent text, which in a comprehensive way interpretes, evaluates and discusses the single publications. In addition, the subject doctoral committee recommends the following:
- The single publications should be clearly separated and be visible as entities in the dissertation. You should integrate the single publications preferably in same form as they were published. Each single publication should be introduced with a cover page, which includes the complete reference and a single identification within the cumulative dissertation
- A list of the individual publications should be included in the appendix – best in front of the individual publications. The specific contribution of the doctoral student and all co‐authors should be described in a short paragraph (see Section 8 subsect. 3). We strongly recommend to synchronise this demarcation of the contributions with all co‐authors and to obtain written approval from them.
- Publications in journals and conference proceedings are often very limited with regard to the page numbers. Thus details cannot be explained in a sufficient manner. If a single publication has a textual „Supplementary Material“ this should be specified in the cumulative dissertation. Please use the possibility to write chapters or appendices to include more details like extensive results, methods and their parametrisation or alternatives on the route to the published end result.
In addition to the rules for the publication of dissertations (see Section 14 Doctoral Degree Regulations MIN Faculty (2018)), special attention needs to be turned to copyrights. The subject doctoral committee recommends to aim at a publication of the cumulative dissertation as a coherent document with the included publications. The necessary rights have to be obtained from the journal publisher or conference organiser. In case that the rights for the publication of an article in the framework of the dissertation are not available the article has to be removed before publication and be replaced in an appropriate form with the complete reference.
9. What rules apply to the choice of reviewers?
The doctoral student is allowed to suggest reviewers. Even though supervisors are not allowed to suggest reviewers, the subject doctoral committee Informatics would like them to give a short statement about the reviewers suggested by the doctoral student. Regulations concerning the reviewing process can be found in Section 10 of the Doctoral Degree Regulations MIN Faculty (2018). Please note the following suggestions concerning the choice of reviewers:
- One of the supervisors is generally appointed to be a reviewer.
- The subject doctoral committee recommends that at least one of the reviewers does not have any joint publications with the doctoral student that have become part of the dissertation.
- In case the work receives the grade “summa cum laude” the Doctoral Degree Regulations MIN Faculty (2018) request another review by an external reviewer. The third reviewer should not have had a joint project or publications with the doctoral student or the supervisors during the last five years (view Section 10 subsect. 5). The subject doctoral committee Informatics would like to obtain at least two suggestions of scientifically renowned scientists.
10. What does the disputation process look like?
The subject doctoral committee recommends the following procedure for the disputation process (for legal provisions please see Section 12 of the Doctoral Degree Regulations MIN Faculty (2018)):
To start with, everyone is welcomed and the members of the examination commission as well as the doctoral student are introduced to the audience. The doctoral student is then invited to start his or her presentation which should last about 30 minutes. The following Q&A session may last from 30-90 minutes total. First, the members of the examination commission have the opportunity to ask further questions concerning the presentation or the wider scientific context of the problems discussed in the dissertation. After that, the Q&A session is also open for questions from other members of the university.
After the Q&A session, the examination commission consults and evaluates the disputation according to Section 13 subsect. 1 and determines the final grade which it then tells the doctoral student (in private). The commission usually makes the doctoral student aware of his or her duty to publish the dissertation within one year and that she or he is only allowed to use the title "Dr. rer. nat." after receiving the certificate.
11. Where can I find all the relevant documents and further information?
Code of best scientific practice:
Doctoral Degree Regulations MIN Faculty (2018):
Partiality guidelines by the DFG:
12. Who can I contact with my questions about the doctoral procedure?
For questions please contact Annegret Immer at the academic office of the Department of Informatics either during office hours or via email (promotion"AT"informatik.uni-hamburg.de). For more far-reaching questions please contact the chairman of the subject doctoral committee Informatics, Prof. Dr. Matthias Rarey. Please write an email to rarey-office"AT"zbh.uni-hamburg.de in order to make an appointment.