Dissertation: from completion to submission

Gepubliceerd op 1 maart 2024 om 12:00

You are really almost there now! All your articles are ready, the general introduction and discussion have been written, and you have created a Dutch and English abstract. Now all you have to do is put these separate parts together in one document and voilà: your dissertation is there! In this blog, we describe the final touches of dotting your i's and crossing your t’s, before you send the entire manuscript to the reading committee.


Put all your documents in the right order in one Word document. Check carefully that you do put the correct (most recent or already accepted/published) versions in the manuscript. It is important to look at the order of your articles with your supervising team. Usually the date of publication is used as the order, but it can sometimes make more sense to include them in a specific order in your dissertation. For example, the results of your pilot study (perhaps your first paper) might be immediately followed by the results of your controlled randomized trial (RCT; presumably your last paper). Naturally, you want to make sure that the formatting is neat: consistency in font, font size and line spacing, with a clear distinction in all titles, headings and subheadings. Tip: with automatic page numbering, you avoid having to adjust the table of contents yourself every time something jumps to another page.

What can be included later?

In the acknowledgement section you thank everyone who has contributed to your dissertation, whether it was a substantive contribution (your dissertation team and other colleagues) or personal support through a cup of tea or tequila (friends and family). PhD students often include a short CV in their dissertation as well, briefly describing their work experience. Your dissertation should also include an official title page of your PhD, which you must get approved by the university from which you are getting your PhD. All of these parts needs to be included before you have your dissertation printed, but it does not need to be in the manuscript that is sent to the reading committee.

Approval from your PhD team

Once everything for the reading committee is placed in one document, first offer it to your supervising team for reading (and approval). If they still have feedback or see mistakes, you can make your final improvements. This usually only involves suggestions for your general introduction, discussion and abstract, because all your articles are often either accepted or "under review" at this stage. We would recommend getting approval on all individual parts first, so that everything has already been approved separately when your PhD team receives your final dissertation manuscript. In that case, waiting for your supervising team's final approval is not so stressful anymore.

Upload in digital environment

Your supervising team has greed with your final manuscript. Now you may upload your dissertation (as a pdf) in Hora Finita. This is the digital PhD environment of the university. Check whether you also have to upload your statements (for which you also need the approval of your dissertation team) at this stage. This can vary from university to university. At the University of Groningen, for example, the statements do not have to be sent along to the reading committee. Some other universities do not ask you to write statements at all, but ask that you, for example, hold a lay talk prior to the defense. After uploading, your first promotor enters the members of the reading committee in Hora Finita, and all your promoters and co-promoters must indicate in Hora Finita that they have approved this final manuscript. Once that is done, the reading committee gets to read your dissertation.

Wait and see...

As of this moment, it is out of your hands. Now you have to wait for the approval of the reading committee, which usually consists of three professors. Only when they have approved the content of your dissertation may you set an official date for the defense. So keep your fingers crossed!

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