Information on changes of the doctoral regulations (RerNat-O)
The doctoral regulations for all doctoral studies within GAUSS (RerNat-O) have recently been updated. Here we would like to summarize a few modifications we consider most relevant:
The new regulations published on June 22nd, 2018 become effective retroactively from April 2018 and apply to all doctoral students independent of the starting date of their doctoral research. The new regulations are mandatory for all doctoral candidates who started their doctoral research in April 2018 or later. Doctoral candidates who started before April 2018 under the old regulations of 04.07.2012 (last amended on 24.10.2017) can apply for examination under the old regulations within six months. It is not possible to apply for only parts of the old regulations. Doctoral examinations on the basis of the old regulations will be held for the last time at the end of the winter semester 2021/22 (deadline: thesis defense before April 1st, 2022).
Please be aware that it is possible to finish the doctoral studies in the programs “Chemistry” and “Physics” (Appendices 7 & 8 in the old regulations) even though they are not part of the new regulations (see §30 Section 3, sentence 5 RerNat-O). It is not mandatory to change to the degree program (Promotionsstudiengang) upon accepting the new regulations.
An English translation of the new regulations has already been commissioned and will become available soon.
- Thesis Advisory Committee (see §5 RerNat-O)
The thesis advisory committee (TAC) has to consist of three members (compared to previously two members in GAUSS programs; GGNB programs always had three). At least two TAC members have to be accredited for GAUSS examinations and independent of each other. If your current committee consists of only two people, you can (but don’t have to) add a third person by submitting the attached form to your program office/deanery and the graduate school.
- Duration of doctoral studies (see §6 RerNat-O)
If the doctoral studies last longer than three years, the candidate has to submit an application for an extension to the thesis advisory committee. An application for an extension of more than one year (totaling in more than 4 years of doctoral studies) has to be supported by the thesis advisory committee and directed to the examination board of the doctoral program or deanery for approval. All extensions have to be reported to the program office/deanery and the graduate school.
- Doctoral Thesis (see §10 RerNat-O)
While a monographic doctoral thesis will remain the standard format of a dissertation, it is no longer required to apply for a cumulative dissertation although the format of a cumulative thesis is still possible. Manuscripts which have been published, accepted or prepared for publication can be a part of the doctoral thesis as long as the reviewers of the thesis agree and the doctoral candidate’s own contributions are clearly stated. All dissertations have to include (1) a thorough and comprehensive introduction, which leads to the general topic of the thesis and addresses all its aspects and overall relevance, (2) a careful summary of all topics dealt with, and (3) an extensive discussion section, which addresses all key findings of the doctoral research and their relevance to the field, putting the key results of the thesis into a broader context.
- Thesis Publication (see §21 RerNat-O)
It is mandatory to publish the doctoral thesis within one year after the oral defense either on the servers of the university library or equivalent platforms. Parts or chapters of the thesis which have already been published can be cited as usual (preferably by including the DOI number in the citation).
Under specific circumstances and only for a good reason, the access of the published thesis can be restricted, which requires a joint written request by the doctoral student and his/her supervisor. In this case only the abstract of the thesis is publicly available, whereas the remaining dissertation is treated confidentially. Initially this exception is only granted for one year after the oral examination; however, it is possible to apply for an extension for up to one additional year. At the latest, with the expiry of the second year, the thesis must be fully published. Relevant reasons to apply for this restriction are, for example, that the publication of the thesis would harm the protection of intellectual property or breach publication contracts with a publisher (i.e. a paper has been accepted and publishing parts of it prior to publication is legally inadmissible).
- Reminder: Progress reports (see §5 RerNat-O)
Once the annual written progress report has been submitted, it is the doctoral candidate’s responsibility to organize a meeting of his/her with all members of his/her thesis advisory committee. The meeting (including the report) has to be confirmed with a signature by all supervisors on the confirmation form at the end of the committee meeting. The completed confirmation form with all signatures is not only needed to apply for the doctoral examination but also to obtain the final degree.
- Good Scientific Practice Seminar (see §6.2 RerNat-O)
It is mandatory for PhD candidates to participate in at least one seminar on Good Scientific Practice throughout the doctoral studies. Usually, this seminar should take place during the first year of doctoral studies.
- Oral examination (Thesis defense) (see §16.2 RerNat-O)
Members of the examination board can join the thesis defense via video- and sound transmission (e.g. Skype, Facetime, ooVoo, etc.) if the doctoral student agrees to this in an e-mail or letter. The said member of the examination board is deemed as present in the thesis defense. If more than one member of the examination board is supposed to participate in the defense in this way, the examination board of the doctoral program has to agree.