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Chapter III. Writing and monitoring of the PhD thesis

Regulations Governing the Management of Doctoral Studies

Article 6. Duration of doctoral studies.

In the case of full-time students, doctoral studies shall have a maximum duration of three years, from first enrolment in the doctoral programme to submission of the PhD thesis for academic registry.

Notwithstanding this requirement, if so authorised by the Academic Commission responsible for the doctoral programme, students may be permitted to study their PhD on a part-time basis. In such cases, doctoral studies may last a maximum of five years from first enrolment in the doctoral programme to submission of the PhD thesis for academic registry.

If at the end of the three years, no application has been made to submit the thesis for academic registry, the Academic Commission of the doctoral programme may authorise a one-year extension to the initial period. In exceptional circumstances, this may be extended for a further year, under the conditions set out in the corresponding doctoral programme. In the case of part-time students, extensions may be authorised for a further two years, and under exceptional circumstances for a further year.

In calculating these periods, sick leave, pregnancy, maternity, paternity and other similar leaves shall not be taken into account. Applications for any such leave shall be handled by the Doctoral School.

The doctoral student may also apply for temporary leave of absence from the doctoral programme for a maximum period of one year, which may be extended by up to one year. All such applications must be sent, giving the grounds for same, to the Academic Commission responsible for the doctoral programme, which shall decide whether or not to grant the request.

Article 7. The PhD thesis.

Doctoral studies conclude with submission of the PhD thesis.

The PhD thesis must comprise an original work of research prepared by the candidate in any field of knowledge, in accordance with the scientific method.

The PhD thesis must prepare the doctoral student to work autonomously in the area of research, development and innovation. For the purposes of guidance only, the thesis should include the following sections: abstract, introduction or background, goals, hypotheses, methodology, findings, discussion, conclusions and bibliography.

The PhD thesis may be written in any of the languages commonly used for scientific communication in the student’s field of knowledge. If it is written in a language other than the two official languages of the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country (Spanish or Basque), a 5-page abstract must also be submitted in one of these languages.

The following should feature on the cover of the thesis:

  1. Symbol of the UPV/EHU.
  2. Title of the PhD thesis.
  3. Author’s name.
  4. Year.

In addition, the cover may also contain the symbol of the Doctoral School and the names of the thesis supervisors. In the case of cotutelle theses, the symbol of the other university involved may also be shown. In all other cases, the symbols of organisations, companies or institutions outside the UPV/EHU may be included on the back cover or interior, but not on the front cover. Failure to comply with this requirement shall be grounds for rejecting submission of the thesis.

Article 8. Tutoring and supervision of the PhD thesis.

Once the candidate has been admitted to the doctoral programme, he/she will be assigned a tutor by the corresponding Academic Commission. This tutor must hold a PhD, must have accredited research experience and must form part of the UPV/EHU faculty participating in the doctoral programme. It shall be the tutor’s task to liaise between the doctoral student and the doctoral programme’s Academic Commission, and to adapt any studies and research to the principles of the doctoral programme and the Doctoral School.

Provisionally, students shall be attached to the same department as the tutor assigned to them, until such time as they are allocated a thesis supervisor.

Following consultation with the student, the Academic Commission may change his/her appointed tutor at any time during the course of his/her doctoral studies, provided that grounds are given for said change.

Within a maximum period of three months from the student’s enrolment, the Academic Commission responsible for the doctoral programme must assign a PhD thesis supervisor to each doctoral student. The supervisor need not necessarily be the student’s tutor. Any member of faculty in the doctoral programme may be appointed as a supervisor. The doctoral student shall be attached to one of the doctoral programme’s research lines and to the same department as his/her thesis supervisor. Alternatively, he/she may be assigned to any of the other departments participating in the doctoral programme, provided said department gives its approval. The thesis supervisor is ultimately responsible for directing the student’s various educational and research tasks; ensuring the consistency and appropriateness of these activities and the impact and innovative nature of the subject of the thesis; and for providing guidance on planning and adaptation to any other projects and activities in which the student is involved. If the supervisor is not a member of the UPV/EHU faculty, the tutor will be responsible for liaising with the university.

The PhD thesis may be co-supervised by other doctors when there are good academic grounds for such an appointment, such as thematic interdisciplinarity or doctoral programmes developed in collaboration with other Spanish or overseas universities or RDI organisations. Co-supervision of theses must be authorised by the Academic Commission. The commission may revoke this authorisation if it judges that co-supervision is not benefitting the progress of the thesis. In no case may more than two supervisors be appointed for the same thesis.

As well as teaching staff from doctoral programmes regulated by Royal Decree 99/2011, PhD theses may also be supervised or co-supervised by holders of PhDs from centres or institutions outside the doctoral programme and/or the UPV/EHU, who meet the requirements set out in the corresponding doctoral programmes. In cases of co-supervision, the doctoral programme’s Academic Commission shall determine whether or not said teachers should join the programme during supervision of the thesis. In the event that they do not join the programme, co-supervision of the PhD thesis must be approved by the UPV/EHU’s Postgraduate Commission. Where the teacher is the sole supervisor, he/she must join the doctoral programme for such time as the student is working on the PhD thesis.

Retired, emeritus and honorary collaborating faculty may continue and/or begin supervision of a PhD thesis, provided that the thesis is co-supervised by a member of the doctoral programme.

Following consultation with the student and thesis supervisor, the doctoral programme’s Academic Commission may appoint a different thesis supervisor at any time during his/her time in the doctoral programme, provided that good grounds exist for such a decision.

Article 9. Customised document of activities.

Upon enrolment in the doctoral programme, a customised document of activities shall be created for each doctoral student, for the purposes of individualised monitoring. This document shall contain any activities relevant to the doctoral studies as regulated by the doctoral programme’s Academic Commission. Educational activities need not be structured into ECTS credits and may include both cross-disciplinary and research studies specific to the area of each doctoral programme, although in all cases the student’s essential activity must be that of research.

The customised document of activities shall be regularly checked by the tutor and by the supervisor of the PhD thesis and assessed annually by the doctoral programme’s Academic Commission. A positive grade shall be an indispensable prerequisite for the student to continue in the programme.

Article 10. Statement of commitment.

A documented commitment shall be made, setting out all academic and administrative aspects related to the writing of the PhD thesis, as well as all aspects arising from the university’s protocols on academic ethics and on research and equality policies. This document must be signed by the doctoral student, his/her tutor, his/her supervisor and the coordinator of the doctoral programme, and shall be saved in the GAUR application. It must be signed as soon as possible after admission and within a period of no more than six months. It must include a procedure for conflict-solving and include aspects relating to confidentiality and to any intellectual or industrial property rights that might be generated during the preparation of the PhD thesis.

Article 11. Research plan.

After the end of the first year of enrolment on the course, the doctoral student must draft a research plan which shall, at minimum, include the methodology to be used and the objectives to be attained, as well as the means and time frame for achieving it. Improvements and further details may be added to this plan throughout the preparation of the PhD thesis and it must have the backing of the tutor and supervisor. This plan shall be saved in the GAUR application and included in the student’s record.

Article 12. Assessment and continuance.

On an annual basis, the doctoral programme’s Academic Commission shall assess the research plan and the customised document of activities, together with any reports issued for this purpose by the tutor and supervisor.

The assessment shall take into account any leave of absence taken by the student during the assessment period. The doctoral programme’s Academic Commission may agree not to assess doctoral students who have been on leave of absence from the programme for more than 6 months.

A favourable assessment shall be an indispensable requirement for remaining in the doctoral programme. In the event that a negative assessment is issued, for which due grounds must be given, the doctoral student must be re-assessed within a period of six months, for which purposes a new research plan and, where applicable, a new document of activities, must be prepared. If the Plan is again deemed to be unacceptable, the doctoral student may no longer remain in the programme. An appeal may be lodged with the Doctoral School against an unfavourable assessment within a period of 15 days from notification thereof to the student. If rejected, a further appeal may be lodged under ordinary proceedings to the Vice-chancellor within a period of one month.