The doctorate ( Latin promotio 'promotion' ) is the award of the academic degree of a doctor or an honorary doctor in a certain subject and in the form of a doctoral certificate. It is valid as proof of the ability to do particularly in-depth scientific work and is based on an independently written scientific work, the dissertation , as well as an oral examination ( Rigorosum , disputation or colloquium ). Universities and universities of equal status as well as German universities of applied sciences in Hesse with strong research activities have the right to award doctorates .
Individuals seeking a promotion and their intention and suitability has been confirmed by a doctorate-granting institution, be as graduate students, doctoral, doctoral or PhD students or -studierende, doctoral students, doctoral students, doctoral / -Innen (Switzerland, Austria), doctoral (Switzerland, Liechtenstein) or English called PhD students .
In order to be admitted to the doctorate, a first university degree must be proven; only in medicine can a dissertation be started before the end of the course. As a rule, this is the master's, magisterial, diploma or state examination. Particularly qualified graduates of a bachelor's degree or a diploma degree from a university of applied sciences can also be admitted to doctoral studies under certain conditions.
From the summer semester of 1891 to the winter semester of 1911/12, 23,217 people received their doctorates in Prussia - an average of 1160 doctorates per academic year at 33,000 students at universities with the right to award doctorates. In Germany , a total of 24,172 people received their doctorate in 1999, compared to 27,711 in 2013. In comparison, a total of 309,364 university degrees were obtained in 2008.
In Germany, 27,711 doctoral examinations were taken in the final year 2013, of which only 4 were failed. The grade is known in 97% of the passed exams: 17% received the grade with distinction, 55% the grade very good, 24% the grade good, 3.6% the grade satisfactory and 0.2% the grade sufficient.
In most subjects and regions, the proportion of women among doctoral students is lower than that of men. The proportion of women in Germany was 34% in 2000 and 42% in 2008.
The doctorate is the highest academic degree. The purpose of the doctorate is to demonstrate the ability to work independently on academic work in a thematically limited research area (specialty). The focus is on the preparation of a doctoral thesis (dissertation), which should contain new scientific results. The doctorate is z. B. Prerequisite for being able to independently submit project applications to the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft . With the doctorate, the scientific training is generally considered completed. In contrast to the doctorate, the habilitation should then demonstrate the ability to represent the entire subject at a high level in research and teaching.
Medical doctorates play a special role: on the one hand, work on the dissertation can be started before the end of the course; on the other hand, medical dissertations are comparable in terms of demands and scope with diploma theses in natural science subjects, unless they are explicit research work. For this reason, the German “Dr. med. ” by the European Research Council not without conditions (completed specialist training; leading professional position) the Ph.D. regarded as equivalent, but (like a professional doctorate ) on the same level as a master's thesis .
Artistic doctorates, which differ from scientific doctorates, also play a special role. The ELIA (European League of the Institutes of the Arts) published The 'Florence Principles' on the Doctorate in the Arts in 2016 . These refer to the Salzburg Principles and the Salzburg Recommendations of the EUA (European University Association) and specify in “ seven points of attention ” the doctorate in artistic subjects compared to scientific doctorates. The Florence Principles were also adopted by the European Association of Conservatoires , the Center International de Liaison des Écoles de Cinéma et de Télévision , CUMULUS and the Society for Artistic Research .
At some humanities faculties, until the 1980s, outstanding students in major and minor subjects could exceptionally be admitted to doctoral studies without a previous final exam, after two professorial assessments. This so-called "single-course" doctorate is no longer possible. The “undergraduate” doctorate, in which only a doctorate as a degree is sought from the beginning of the course, was also abolished at German universities around 1990. In the 19th century, an absence doctorate (doctorate in absentia) was also possible in Germany.
In Germany, a doctorate is a prerequisite for the habilitation .
In the Middle Ages , the doctoral procedure required the taking of various oaths , including an oath before the rector on the statutes of the university, as well as a private and a public exam. The examen privatum, usually a commentary on selected examination texts with a defense of the theses represented, took place in front of the committee of professors ( magistri regentes ) of the faculty and sometimes also with the participation of professors from the artist faculty . In this private exam, which was often held in a public place in the open air, the public was allowed, but had no right to ask questions. After completing the private exam, the panel voted on whether the candidate was worthy to hold the academic degree of licentiatus . However, the acquisition of the doctoral degree was tied to the completion of the examen publicum , an inaugural lecture followed by a disputation , in which the candidate had to defend his theses against objections from the public, and in which every student present was entitled to question. Only after passing the public examination did the ceremonial inauguration and award of the insignia, which included a book, a gold ring and the doctoral hat in the shape of a beret . The medieval process remained valid with many variants and modifications even in the early modern period.
One of the most important innovations in modern times was the gradual introduction of the written inaugural dissertation , which arose from the written formulation and publication of theses for the purpose of inviting people to take a public examination and which developed into a compulsory part of the examination.
The doctorate is initiated after the doctoral candidate has submitted a doctoral thesis ( dissertation ). This work is a scientific research work that documents an independently performed research achievement that concludes with new scientific knowledge. After acceptance of the dissertation by the faculty or as its designee Commission and requests for advisory opinions an oral exam (done Rigorosum ) or a scientific debate ( defense ), which often (but not always), the theme of the dissertation on the subject. This oral defense of a doctoral thesis is usually public and is taken in front of university lecturers and, if necessary, public figures.
The doctoral procedure is completed after the overall assessment; As a rule, however, a doctoral student in Germany is only then entitled to use the designation Dr. after the doctoral certificate has been handed over. The doctoral candidate usually has to provide evidence of the publication of his dissertation beforehand. Some doctoral regulations allow those who have completed the procedure but have not yet published the dissertation to use the designation Dr. des. ( doctor designatus ).
For the procedure, reference must be made to the individual doctoral regulations of the respective faculties. As part of the ongoing Bologna process , a statement was also made on the doctoral studies . Not only can we expect the creation of common systems for uniform degrees ( Bachelor's degree and Master's degree), but also a uniform doctoral degree . On the Bologna follow-up conference in 2005 in Bergen doctoral programs (were graduate schools ) confirms that already in some Land legislation are anchored and the academic degree Doctor of Philosophy ( Ph.D. ) may result.
There is also the option of carrying out a binationally supervised doctorate (“cotutelle de thèse”) on the basis of an agreement between two universities in different countries. This requires the involvement of supervisors from both universities during the doctoral process (e.g. as reviewers or examiners) as well as research stays at the participating foreign university. In this process, not two doctoral degrees are acquired, but a single title.
Sometimes doctoral students are employed as research assistants at a university , with doctoral positions being financed mainly from third-party funds. In these cases, the duration of the employment relationship is limited in accordance with the Science Time Contract Act until the end of the underlying third-party funded project (Section 2 (2) WissZeitVG). For example, in 2017 a doctoral student had an average monthly net income of 1,261 euros. In the humanities in particular, most doctoral students have to finance themselves.
The status of doctoral students is not uniformly regulated in Germany. During the doctorate there is basically the possibility to enroll at the university; some doctoral regulations make this mandatory.
Depending on the regulations at the respective university, this phase is either viewed as a full-time study or not counted as a study phase and doctoral candidates are then formally not considered to be students. Rather, they belong to the group of young academics (in contrast to Sweden, for example, where doctoral students are generally enrolled as so-called “research students” and have to demonstrate a prescribed number of corresponding courses). In addition to the employment relationship, there is the possibility of funding through a doctoral scholarship . Responsibility for integration into the social security systems (payments for pension, health and long-term care insurance) rests with the doctoral candidate. At German universities, doctoral candidates do not form their own status group and therefore have no independent representation within the framework of university self-administration . In the university committees, they are included in the status group of academic staff ( academic mid-level staff ). Depending on the respective higher education law and the source of their funding ( third-party funds or budget funds ), they have passive and active voting rights in appointing university bodies. Doctoral candidates on a third-party funded position or doctoral scholarship holders without further employment at an institute are not represented in the co-determination structures of the university. That is why both the Education and Science Union and the PhD initiative within the Gifted Support Organizations (PI) are calling for a separate status group for PhD students to be introduced.
The course of a doctoral procedure is specified in the examination regulations of the responsible department. The procedure can be very different from university to university and from subject to subject. It usually contains the following items:
- Appropriate degree (usually good to very good exam),
- If necessary, further qualification requirements, for example seminar certificates, language certificates ( Latinum , Graecum etc.) etc.
- Choice of a supervisor (usually a professor) " doctoral advisor " - for female professors "doctoral mother".
- Registration of the doctoral project with the doctoral committee of a faculty at a university ,
- Acceptance as a doctoral student,
- Preparation of the dissertation.
The average duration varies depending on the subject and topic of the work. According to a survey by the University of Marburg, it takes an average of four to five years. In engineering and computer science, a survey found an average duration of 5.4 years.
Doctors often begin their dissertation towards the end of their studies, but the duration varies widely and ranges from a few semesters (clinical-theoretical doctoral thesis) to several years (medical history or experimental doctoral theses). In other natural science subjects and in the humanities, especially for research and empirical topics, a duration of up to five years is usual. The doctoral student is often employed at the respective institute during this time, especially in the natural sciences. Lawyers invest about one and a half to three years, for extensive empirical work two and a half to four years.
The dissertation includes depending on the field mostly between 25 and several hundred pages. During the doctoral period (depending on the university, faculty, subject and chair):
- To attend doctoral seminars ( advanced seminars ),
- Publish specialist publications,
- to participate in the courses offered by the chair or institute (write and correct exams, hold exercises, revise scripts and the like),
- Submitting the dissertation to the doctoral committee,
- Preparation of two to three reports by the opponents ,
- Oral and public defense ( disputation ) and / or Rigorosum ,
- Preparation of the doctoral thesis for scientific publication ,
- Obtaining permission to print ( imprimatur ), if not yet granted (for works in Catholic theology, ecclesiastical approval may still have to be obtained [ Nihil obstat, Latin for 'nothing stands in the way']),
- Publication including submission of deposit copies to the libraries. Some faculties now also allow the dissertation to be published on the Internet .
Especially in natural science subjects, a cumulative dissertation is often written . Partial aspects of your own research work are summarized in independent manuscripts and published alone or with co-authors in peer-reviewed journals ( reviewed papers ). The individual publications, which of course should be in a context, are then cumulated, i.e. H. summarized as individual chapters and submitted as a dissertation. The required total number of manuscripts and the proportion of chapters already published is determined by the respective doctoral regulations. By accumulating, the doctoral student achieves a clearly structured doctoral process, learns the methodology of publishing and, instead of a single work with a low dissemination value, can present several publications that are much more perceived by the specialist colleagues.
The competition for some research topics is very high and so is the pressure to be the first to publish on certain topics (results). In practice, earlier publications by others in no way mean a “devaluation” of one's own work, provided that these publications are also taken into account in one's own work.
As a rule, no courses have to be attended during the doctoral thesis in Germany. If you are doing a doctorate in a subject that you have not studied before, that is different. Then, parallel to the dissertation, you complete a “doctoral degree” that includes courses.
The overall assessment of the doctoral performance is based on Latin or German grades, depending on the doctoral regulations. The meanings are different depending on the university and sometimes even within a university in the faculties . The rating systems also differ considerably overall. Depending on the university, there are three to six grades or different grades for written and oral performance. The awarding of an award is also different. At some universities, the grade with distinction follows an automatic mechanism and results when a certain average is achieved from the written and oral performance, at other universities it is not a separate grade, but a comment on the grade very good, an again other universities, an additional assessment must take place before this grade is awarded. The system cannot simply be translated into school grades either. At some universities, the grade with distinction is given a grade of 0 or 0.5, at others with a grade of 1 or very good. Some doctoral regulations do not provide for the grade satis bene and describe rite as satisfactory as the lowest possible grade for passing. There are also different rules as to which grade results in a failure. Depending on the system, this can be 4, 5 or 6. In general, however, the following gradation can be seen. Descriptions are given in brackets, but the respective doctoral regulations can also determine them differently:
- summa cum laude, with the highest praise, with distinction, excellent (an outstanding achievement),
- magna cum laude, with great praise, very good (a particularly noteworthy achievement),
- cum laude, with praise, good (a performance above average),
- satis bene, sufficient, satisfactory (an achievement that corresponds to average requirements),
- rite, sufficient (a performance which, despite its shortcomings, still meets the requirements),
- non probatum, non sufficit, non rite, insufficienter, inadequate, failed (a performance that suffers from significant deficiencies and is generally unusable).
Depending on the doctoral regulations, the dissertation itself can also receive a grade. This rating is given within the reviewer's recommendation for scientific achievement. For this purpose, Latin or German grades are given, the meanings of which can vary depending on the university and subject area (see explanations above). They can correspond to the overall grades. As a special feature, one of the following formulations can also be selected:
- opus eximium, extraordinary work,
- opus valde laudabile, very good job,
- opus laudabile, good job,
- opus idoneum, satisfactory work.
Since November 1968, a distinction has been made in the GDR between A and B doctorates in line with the Soviet system . The latter corresponded to the habilitation thesis and after the fall of the Wall was usually equated with the habilitation if the Facultas Docendi was acquired at the same time .
After the doctorate, the doctoral degree may be used by authorized persons. According to the Criminal Code , abuse of titles, job titles and badges is punishable by imprisonment or a fine. According to the case law of the Federal Court of Justice and the Federal Administrative Court , the doctoral degree is not part of the civil name such as former titles of nobility or nobility designations, but only an addition to the name . There is therefore no legal entitlement to a corresponding salutation.
In France , even during the Abitur, French terms are used: très bien avec félicitations du jury ("very good with congratulations from the examination board"), très bien ("very good"), bien ("good") and assez bien (" good enough"). Some Grandes Écoles such as the Institut d'études politiques de Paris and the HEC Paris , however, award the Latin and English marks summa cum laude / graduated with highest honors for the best 2% and cum laude / graduated with honors for the following 5% of a year .
The terms très honorable avec félicitations du jury, très honorable and honorable were used for the doctor . The honor avec félicitations du jury is no longer official at most universities.
In May 2016 a decree came into force (“Arrêté du 25 mai 2016”), which abolished the various designations, which are therefore no longer allowed to appear on the doctoral degree.
In Italy , the degree dottore was traditionally awarded with the first degree ( laurea, comparable to the German diploma, Magister and Master). The actual three-year doctorate based on this (extensions are possible, but not shortening) awards the degree dottore di ricerca and was introduced as the highest degree attainable in Italy in 1980 (at the same time the habilitation was abolished); 1997 to 1999 details u. a. changed in the admission and examination process. The doctorate is not graded according to the Anglo-Saxon model, in particular the US model, on the grounds that the quality of the doctorate results objectively from the resulting publications in scientific journals. However, the entire process is accompanied by numerous reports: to continue the doctoral project, a resolution by the doctoral committee is required every year on the basis of a favorable opinion from the supervisor; for admission to the disputation by the doctoral committee, a favorable opinion from the supervisor and another from a second reviewer are required , and after the disputation, the examination committee, which is usually three-person, writes a short, often only half-page assessment, from which it is usually sufficiently clear whether the work was classified as exceptionally excellent, average good or just sufficient. However, none of these reports and assessments are attached to the doctoral certificate; they are simply kept in the files.
The traditional grading of the laurea is based on a ten-point scale with 10/10 as the best grade and 6/10 as "sufficient" in such a way that theoretically each of the eleven members of the examination board gives a grade that is added to the others. In fact, a bonus for the written thesis (tesi di laurea) determined by the examination committee is added to the average grade from the performance examinations, converted to 110ths. The grade 100/110 means that the candidate achieved 100 out of 110 possible points. The minimum grade is 66/110. The grade 110/110 e lode is awarded for particularly good results . An exception was the Politecnico di Milano (Technical University of Milan), where the examination committee consisted of ten members and the top grade was therefore 100/100, possibly with a lode. The Bologna reform was anticipated as early as the 1990s and the old laurea with a standard period of four or five years was divided into two modular degrees, a first after three years ( laurea di primo livello, comparable to the Bachelor) and a second after a further two years ( laurea di secondo level, comparable to the master). The doctorate ( dottorato di ricerca ) remains the highest degree that can be achieved in Italy and comes as the third level, but the dottore title is still not reserved for it. B. was criticized by the Association of Italian Doctoral Students ADI because this causes misunderstandings abroad (see also: Brenner doctor ).
The assessment in Luxembourg is based on the completed dissertation, the corresponding lecture on the dissertation topic and a defense before an examination committee. The grading is based on a five-point scale, whereby there are no official guidelines on how the individual components (writing, lecture, defense) are to be weighted:
- excellent, excellent, outstanding (5 points)
- très bien, very good, very good (4 points)
- bien, gut, good (3 points)
- assez bien, satisfactory, fair (2 points)
- passable, sufficient, sufficient (1 point)
Each member of the examination board determines the grade individually and according to the following rule: If, based on the examiner's experience, the overall performance can be counted among the 20% of the best performances in the last time, the grade is awarded excellent . If, in the experience of the examiner, the overall performance can be counted among the 40% of the best performances in recent times, the grade is very good . etc. Finally, the individual grade points are added up and the overall grade is determined using the following key:
- 22 to 25 points: excellent, excellent, outstanding
- 18 to 21 points: très bien, very good, very good
- 14 to 17 points: bien, gut, good
- 10 to 13 points: assez bien, satisfactory, fair
- 5 to 9 points: passable, sufficient, sufficient
In the Netherlands there is only the term cum laude. It corresponds to the distinction summa cum laude in the German system.
In Austria , examinations leading to the degree are assessed as passed or passed with distinction (the latter, if all partial examinations were rated no worse than good and at least half of them were rated very good ). In addition, the award of the doctorate can also take place as a doctorate sub auspiciis Praesidentis rei publicae (German: "Doctorate under the auspices of the Federal President"), which is equivalent to the highest award for obtaining the doctorate and includes achievements already made in school and studies.
In Switzerland , the grading system at universities is the responsibility of the university concerned, which means that different grading scales are possible. The Rectors' Conference of the Swiss Universities recommends a grading system.
- summa cum laude, excellent (grade 6)
- insigni cum laude, very good (grade 5.5)
- magna cum laude, good (grade 5)
- cum laude, satisfactory (grade 4.5)
- rite, sufficient (grade 4)
- unsatisfactory (grades 1 to 3.5)
An example of a grading system deviating from this standard is given at the Philosophical and Natural Sciences Faculty of the University of Basel . It evaluates the grade in the doctoral degree as follows:
- summa cum laude, excellent (grade 5.80–6.00)
- magna cum laude, very good (grade 5.50-5.79)
- cum laude, good (grade 5.00–5.49)
- level, satisfactory (grade 4.50-4.99)
- rite, sufficient (grade 4.00–4.49)
There are also universities that do not award a grade ( passed or failed ) for a doctorate , such as ETH Zurich .
In Spain , the term cum laude (with distinction) corresponds to the distinction summa cum laude in the German system.
In the Russian system (which was also valid in the Soviet Union) the doctorate corresponds to the candidate of the sciences , awarded after an aspirantur . The Russian doctorate, on the other hand, corresponds to a Western European habilitation .
In the Czech Republic, the doctorate consists of an entrance examination, doctoral studies with courses (block weeks; mostly part-time), the state doctoral examination (public) and the dissertation with disputation (public). A degree from the second Bologna level (Master's level) is required for doctoral studies.
The exams are classified as passed or failed and can be repeated once. The doctoral process takes between three (full-time study) and six (part-time study) years, depending on the university and subject. The wording of the academic and scientific doctoral degree obtained in the Czech Republic has been: Doctor, abbreviation Ph.D. , listed by the family name.
In Hungary , successful doctorates have been awarded three titles since 1996: summa cum laude, cum laude and rite . With insufficienter a failed promotion is called.
United Kingdom and Australia
Universities in the UK and Australia do not give grading for the PhD or dissertation . Instead, the doctoral candidate or his dissertation goes through a peer review with external and anonymous reviewers. This process is similar to the peer review process of scientific publications for conferences or journals. There are at least three reviewers of the dissertation. The reviewers have the opportunity to rate the work as follows:
- accept as is, no further complaints
- accept with minor revisions, minor complaints (e.g. formal errors, minor content improvements). The dissertation does not have to go through a full review again. The changes can be signed off by the Dean of Research, Dean of Faculty or the Head of School . Changes must be made within three months.
- major revisions needed, major complaints. The work has potential, but the quality of the methodology, data or results is insufficient. A new full review is necessary. Changes must be made within six to nine months.
- fail, the work is insufficient and also has no potential. This results in an immediate termination of the review process and also of the PhD Candidature .
The review process consists of a maximum of two full review cycles and can extend the PhD candidature for a maximum of one year. A major revisions needed in the second full review leads to the final failure of the work. If the thesis was signed with an accept with minor revisions or was directly rated accept as is, the PhD or doctoral degree is awarded.
There is the possibility of submitting a failed dissertation as a master's thesis and receiving the academic degree Master of Philosophy (M. Phil.).
Withdrawal of the doctorate
In Germany, the doctorate can only be withdrawn by the university or faculty that awarded the degree. Reasons for a withdrawal can be the final conviction to a prison term of at least one year as well as proven deception about the admission requirements or the doctoral achievements. Several German doctoral regulations also provide for the possibility of revoking a correctly acquired doctoral degree if the candidate is proven to have committed serious scientific misconduct (in particular falsifications or plagiarism) after completing the doctorate.
The case of Jan Hendrik Schön is instructive here : In June 2004 the University of Konstanz Schön revoked the doctorate for “unworthy behavior”. What was unusual about this step was that the honesty of the doctorate itself was not questioned, but rather a passage in the University Act of Baden-Württemberg, which had rarely been considered until then, was used, according to which the doctoral degree can also be withdrawn "if the holder changes through his later Conduct of leadership of the degree has proven unworthy ”. The reason given by the University of Schöns was proven misconduct as a researcher in the USA, when the physicist had falsified research results on a large scale. Schön took legal action against this decision, but ultimately failed before the Federal Administrative Court, which finally dismissed the lawsuit on July 31, 2013 and declared the university's withdrawal of the doctorate to be permissible.
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