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Public defence and trial lecture during the corona situation

Rules and regulations for public defences and trial lectures during the corona situation

digitale disputaser
The corona situation has significant consequences for all activities at UiB, including routines around conducting PhD trial lectures and public defences.
Torhild Dahl, UiB

The prevailing corona situation has significant consequences for all activities at UiB, including routines around conducting PhD trial lectures and public defences (hereafter referred to as the doctoral examination).

The faculties at UiB are free to decide whether doctoral examination should be conducted as a purely digital event, i.e. that all participants are separated, or as an event where the majority of participants are together physically. The faculty must still facilitate so that remote members with a formal role in the doctoral examination can take part online.

Doctoral examination as a physical event   

The faculty decides whether a doctoral examination can be conducted as an event where the participants are gathered physically, and the framework for such an event. The decision on a physical event is made based on a contagion risk assessement and the availability of support personel for the event.

The faculties must make sure that the those present can maintain a social distance of 1 meter during the event and that other UiB-measures for reducing contamination are followed: https://www.uib.no/en/hms-portalen/135944/access-campus.

UiB-staff and PhD candidates present must complete the e-learning course in protective measures before entering the event. It is not obligatory for external audience to complete the course. However, the faculty must make sure that information on the prevailing corona measures are made known for those entering UiB campus from the outside. 

If serving of food and drinks is planned, it is important to abide by the rules for UiB dining areas during the coronasituation: https://www.uib.no/en/hms-portalen/135944/access-campus#dining-areas-nbsp-

Here are other measures that do apply if a doctoral examination is conducted in an auditorium:

  •  The organizer must keep a list of those attending the doctoral examination. The list must be handled in a secure manner and deleted after 10 days.
  • According to the PhD regulations, the doctoral defence must be public. This requirement is fulfilled if the defence takes place in an auditorium where those who want access, gets this. Streaming of the event will not be required under these circumstances.
  • The organizer of the event must facilitate for participants with a formal role to take part via videolink. This will typically be relevant for the opponents. 
  • It must be possible for the audience to pose questions during the public defence, with reference to the arrangement of opposition ex. auditorio. This requirement is fulfilled if the defence takes place in an auditorium where those who want access, gets this.
  • The thesis must be available to the public two weeks before the defence. If the public defence takes place with a full audience, it is sufficient to make the thesis physically available through the University Library and in the auditorium during the defence.
  • If the public defence is conducted in a room with limited access for the audience, the faculty must make sure that the defence is streamed online. This is to make sure that the defence is public. In cases where the defence is streamed, the organizer must make sure that regulations for digital examinations, including rules for opposition ex. auditorio, as shown further down.
  • If a public defence is planned with limited access for an audience, UiB urges the candidate to make the thesis digitally available, preferably in BORA.   
  • If the doctoral examination is conducted with opponents taking part via videolink or with streaming from an auditorium, we urge you the organizer to acquaint oneself with the advice for digital events further down.


Doctoral examination as a digital event

When conducting the doctoral examination as a digital event, the following pertains:

  • It must be possible to follow the public defence as a live stream, in keeping with the rule that a public defence must be public.
  • The public defence should be announced as normal. A link to the event should be provided, and preferably a link to the thesis 
  • The thesis must at the latest be publicly available two weeks before the public defence is held, according to the PhD regulations. However, restrictions on digital availability may apply due to the copyrights of the candidate and publisher. You can find more information regarding restrictions and possibilities of digital availability under the heading “Availability and copyright” further down
  • It should be possible for the public to ask questions during the public defence, in accordance with the rule of opposition ex. auditorio. Clear information about how remote audience members can ask questions during public defence must be provided to audience members in advance
  • If it is not possible to facilitate live streaming of a public defences and/or to receive questions from the public, faculties must apply for an exemption from the requirement of a public defence in each case. Inquiries should be made to the PhD coordinator at the Division of Research and Innovation: Yngve Brynjulfsen (yngve.brynjulfsen@uib.no)
  • Although PhD regulations do not stipulate that trial lectures have to be made public, this is nevertheless, customary. We therefore ask faculties to make trial lectures open to the public via streaming.
  • UiB urge the faculties and departments to use Zoom Webinar for digital doctoral examinations. Using this software will lower the risk of sabotage from external persons. The IT divison has developed a user manual for digital doctoral examinations. If further assistance is needed, please contact Frode Lillestøl (frode.lillestol@uib.no) or Trond Gravvold (trond.gravvold@uib.no) from the IT division.

Check-list for doctoral examination as a digital event

  • A technical test is strongly advised prior to doctoral examinations. The test should be conducted with the candidate, committee, head of public defence and supervisor team
  • Invitations to the defence should be distributed, and should contain a link to the streamed event. The invitation should explain that any recordings made during the session will be deleted afterwards
  • The web editor of the press release/announcement should provide a link to the thesis in BORA (Bergen Open Research Archive)
  • Keep the technical user manual close at hand

Candidate and committee:

  • Distribute a separate link to the participants
  • State your full name when speaking
  • Use a camera, where available
  • Mute your sound unless you wish to make a comment
  • Provide information to the committee on how they can participate and ask questions


  • Distribute a separate link to the audience
  • Provide information on how audience members can sign up to ask a question ex auditorio
  • Regarding question ex auditorio the questioner may use the Q&A-feature towards technical administrator and head of defence. Use of the chat-feature is not recommended
  • Questioner must state full name
  • We recommend that questioner initially poses his/her question in writing, in order to sort out relevant questions from sabotage
  • When time has come for the question to be raised, we recommend that the question can be asked orally, with the camera deactivated 

General advice:

  • In the event of technical difficulties, at least one more member of staff must have administrator rights, as a back-up
  • After the doctoral examination, a private virtual room should be arranged for the committee. This can be arranged as an ordinary meeting in Zoom or Teams
  • Signing the protocol:
    -Keep the protocol ready in advance
    -Approve the protocol by e-mail
    -The protocol may be printed, signed and sent to the PhD coordinator once normal business resumes 
    -Use a digital signature where available
  • When planning ahead, it may be appropriate to choose heads of defence that are comfortable with leading a digital public defence

About recording and storing the event

Recording a doctoral examination and making it available as a video after the event has taken place (for example in YouTube), essentially changes the conditions of a public doctoral examination. If you do choose to share the defence as a video after it has been held, you may need permission from participating parties, first and foremost the candidate, head of public defence and committee. Please see more information here on consent. It is always important to let participants know how the defence will be made public over the internet and to ensure that all participants understand how this works.

In the event of a technical interruption, it may be appropriate to make a recording of the doctoral examination. Such a recording should only be made available for internal use in the committee and must be deleted after the examination is approved. Any recording of doctoral examination must be informed to involved parties in advance. It might be more practical to make a sound recording, due to technical capacity.

Availability and copyrights

During times of restricted access to a physical thesis, UiB strongly encourages candidates to make the thesis available in digital format, preferably in Bergen open research archive (BORA). Avhandlingsportalen is the website for printing and making the thesis digitally available. Here the candidate can register whether he/she would like to make the thesis available in BORA. Publishers may often restrict digital availability to published articles. In this cases, it may be more appropriate to upload an accepted version of the article. Under “Copyright and publishing” at Avhandlingsportalen you can find more information on restrictions and possibilities regarding digital availability. For questions, contact: bora@uib.no. The web editor of the press release/announcement should provide links to the thesis in BORA.

If the whole thesis available is not available in BORA, publishers will often accept that a thesis is sent to colleagues upon request.

Publishers are responsible for providing information about articles that they have acquired the copyrights for. Information may be found in the contract, on the publisher’s website or through direct contact.