Thesis and defense

What are mandatory elements of the thesis?

There is only few regulation for the form of the thesis. Mandatory elements are:

  • cover page (there is no TU template)
  • abstract in English and German (“Kurzfassung”)
  • Statutory declaration that the thesis is your original work and that you properly cited your sources. Example: “Hiermit erkläre ich an Eides statt, dass ich die vorliegende Arbeit selbstständig verfasst und keine anderen als die angegebenen Quellen und Hilfsmittel verwendet habe” (add date, place, and your signature)
  • There may be additional regulation depending on your faculty.

Are there any layout guidelines?

There is only few regulation for the form of the thesis:

  • Binding
  • Page size DIN-A4 (except for foldable plans)

Aside from that, there are no TU-wide guidelines, in particular for the body matter of the thesis. However, there might be additional requirements depending on your faculty.

Do I need (peer-reviewed) publications for graduating?

Formally no. However:

  • if you are a member of a graduate school (DK), the school will usually require you to have at least one first-author publication in a peer-reviewed journal
  • your supervisor will in general require a certain number and quality of publications of you.

Do I have to write my thesis in German?

No, you can write it in English if your advisor agrees to it.

In many cases, advisors will even require you to write the thesis in English.

Do I have any German-language-requirements?

Generally it is the decision of your supervisor.
There are no general language requirements for doctoral candidates. In most cases, knowledge of the English language is sufficient, but check with your supervisor.
According to the Austrian law you have to have a knowlede of German (Austrian University Act §63(1) and §63(10)), but you supervisor/dean for studies can decide different, which is very common for PhD-Students, because they often have to work in English.

Can I compile a thesis solely from my articles (“thesis by publication”)?

Yes, but there are some caveats.

Is self-plagiarism an issue when using results from articles in my thesis?

If you are writing a “thesis by publication”, this is obviously not an issue.

In some fields it is common to copy articles also into a monograph and mark them as being based on an article. For a very long time, this was not an issue at all, but the scientific practise since has evolved and lately this has become somewhat more delicate. Please check with your supervisor.

How does the thesis audit work?

There is no formal procedure for the thesis audit, altough your faculty may have some guidelines.

Who is auditing my thesis?

Once you hand in your thesis, the dean of studies will appoint two auditors, who will examine your thesis. Usually, you can suggest this two auditors together with your supervisor, and the dean of studies will follow this suggestion. To act as an auditor one has to be habilitated.

§ 23 (6) in the university-wide regulation (currently only available in german) of who is allowed to audit your thesis:

(6) Die abgeschlossene Dissertation ist beim Studienrechtlichen Organ zur Beurteilungeinzureichen. Das Studienrechtliche Organ hat die Dissertation mindestens zwei Personen, die nicht Betreuer_innen sind, gemäß Abs. 3 und/oder 4 vorzulegen, welche die Dissertation innerhalb von höchstens vier Monaten mit jeweils einem Gutachten und einer Note zu beurteilen haben. Nach Möglichkeit soll zumindest eine dieser Personen der Technischen Universität Wien und zumindest eine dieser Personen einer anderen Fakultät oder Universität oder einer externen Forschungseinrichtung angehören. Bei interdisziplinären Dissertationen sollen alle beteiligten Disziplinen durch Beurteiler_innenvertreten sein.

Do I have to publish the thesis?

The thesis has to be published in the library of the TU Wien and in the Austrian National Library according to the law (Veröffentlichungspflicht nach UG 2002 § 86). For a thesis with interests of exploitation it is possible to apply for an embargo of up to five years. You have to distinguish between the act of publishing and releasing the thesis. Releasing means to make the thesis available by printing or other duplicating processes. The library of TU Wien, as long as the thesis is published but not relased, is allowed to create copies for their own and others use without approval of the original author. As soon as the thesis has been released the library of TU Wien is allowed to create copies of parts of the thesis for their own and others use without approval of the original author (Urheberrechtsgesetz 1936 § 42).

How does the defense (Rigorosum) work?

The Rigorosum is the final examination by a commission. It consists of two parts, the presentation of your thesis and a subsequent defense in front of the commission. The commission consists of three to five professors. One is the chair of the commission, the other members are your supervisors and usually the auditors. The Rigorosum is a public examination, some faculties and research groups post the dates on their homepages or have notices on a bulletin board. You can therefore attend other exams as a preparation. Some faculties have special guidelines on the homepage, e.g., the guidelines of the faculty of physics. At the end a closed session of the commission takes place to determine the evaluation of the thesis and the thesis defense.