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General guidelines for PhD dissertations

General Guidelines for PhD dissertations in the PhD programme of Molecular Biology (including Molecular Medicine)

These guidelines are meant as help for PhD students who are about to write their PhD dissertation at the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics (MBG). 

The dissertation must be written in English (with a Danish summary) and must not exceed 200 pages including appendices. A typical thesis comprises about 100 pages.

Structure of Dissertation

The PhD dissertation usually consists of the following sections:

1. Front page

The front page must contain the title of the dissertation and the student's name, the year of submission, departmental affiliation (name of centre or department, and the university). Apart from this information, the front page can be designed freely with e.g. departmental or centre logo, a relevant illustration etc.

2. Acknowledgements

Persons, organizations, funding sources etc. that have supported the PhD studies financially or with technical or other assistance should be duly acknowledged.

3. Table of contents

4. Summary in Danish and English

The summary should be available in both Danish and English and should provide a brief outline of the results obtained during the PhD and their significance in a more general context. The summary should not contain too many specific details and must be written in a language understandable for a person with general academic training.

5. List of abbreviations and symbols

Abbreviations should always be defined in full at their first occurrence and be available as well in a separate list of abbreviations found at the beginning of the dissertation. The list should contain all non-trivial, scientific abbreviations as well as mathematical symbols used in the dissertation. Do not crowd the list with abbreviations such as DNA, PCR, or QTL, which are trivial to persons acquainted with the discipline. Generally accepted units (e.g. kDa = kilo Dalton) and prefixes (e.g. p = pico) should also not be included.

6. General introduction

The general introduction describes the current status of the academic field studied during the PhD in the form of a detailed overview of the existing knowledge within the field ending with the aims of the project. It should be specific enough to allow the reader to understand and assess the results presented in the following sections, but at the same time give a more general overview in order to put the results into a larger context. The introduction must be written in the style of a scientific review with references to original literature. Review literature should only be cited to a limited extent.

7. Aims

The Aims section should briefly and clearly describe the biological questions addressed in the project and should not exceed one page. This section may be placed before or after the general introduction.

8. Results chapters

The results obtained during the PhD project are presented in a number of results chapters following the introduction. In those cases where the candidate has worked with several unrelated projects it may be an advantage to include additional and brief introductions at the beginning of each chapter to introduce the results. In this case, the general introduction will be shorter and only deal with subjects common to the results sections.

The individual results chapters usually follow one of the following formats, or a combination of them:

A. Scientific papers or manuscripts

The scientific results obtained during the PhD are presented in a number of self-contained chapters each laid out in the form of scientific papers either ready for submission for publication or – preferably - published or submitted.

For both manuscripts and published papers, it is the candidate’s responsibility to obtain signed statements from all co-author (please see the menu to the right) (see the menu to the right) as well as checking that they have been filled in correctly, i.e. that they always state the contribution of the candidate to the research and writing phases as judged by each co-author.

B. Comprehensive description

Scientific results obtained during the PhD are presented in a detailed report format with inclusion of as many relevant, original experiments as possible. This format can very well be combined with a written manuscript or published paper to expand and include experiments not available in the original paper.

Each results chapter, manuscript or published paper with contributions from others than the PhD student must be preceded by a description of 5 to 10 lines where the candidate clearly identifies his/her contributions to the phases (inception, planning, carrying-out and reporting) of the research in each part of the results chapter. When ever possible, this should refer to specific parts of the chapter like a figure or a table.

9. Materials and methods

If the description of materials and methods central to the assessment of the results is incomplete in the published manuscripts or if some of the results are not published, a dedicated Materials and Methods section should be included describing these in detail. In particular, this applies if non-standard methods were used or if published data do not include all necessary control experiments due to space limitations etc.

10. General discussion

The PhD dissertation should be concluded by a thorough summary and discussion of the results obtained, in which these are put into perspective and related to the remaining scientific literature.

11. References

Full references including titles must be included for all cited literature. References should be listed in a format, which complies with standards for scientific publications in the discipline. As a courtesy to the opponents, it is recommended to use names and years in the text and include full titles in the reference list. The use of hyperlinks to online versions of the cited literature is encouraged.

12. Plagiarism

Copy and paste is not acceptable (with the exception of text written for the qualification exam report). In case of direct citations, the source has to be cited even if it is one of your own publications (self citation) or if it is from a public source like Wikipedia. Not obeying to this rule will be treated as plagiarism or fraud, with all consequences.

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