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Digital trial lectures

Public defence and trial lecture as partial digital events

Routines and guidelines for public defences and trial lectures as partial digital events

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


Trial lectures and public defences (hereafter referred to as doctoral examination) have traditionally been conducted in an auditorium with physical presence of all those with of relevant roles. The corona-period has shown us the possibilities that lies in digital participation through videolink. 

During normal conditions the doctoral examination will take place as a physical event at UiB campus. In addition, the faculties may want to use videolink if an opponent or a candidate is prevented from travelling to UiB. The faculties may also want to digitally stream the doctoral examination to a broader audience. In the information below, we have gathered information for carrying out the doctoral examination as a partial digital event.

It is up to the faculties to decide in what format the doctoral examination is to be conducted.

Check-list for doctoral examination as a digital event

  • 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
  • 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)

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

In the event of digital streaming to a broader audience:

  • 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

If the doctoral examination is being recorded and made available as a video recording after the event has taken place, you must comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Copyright Act (Åndsverkloven).

  • If the candidate would like to share the defense as a video recording after the event, the candidate is responsible for obtaining permission from the participating parties and instruct them about the right to request protection. For the defense, this first and foremost includes the head of public defense and committee. The obtained permission must be documented. The candidate is therefore encouraged to obtain a written permission in advance of the recording. For the trial lecture, it is encouraged to only record the lecture itself.
  • If the faculty wishes to share a video recording of the trial lecture, for example during teaching or by making it available online, UiB is responsible for informing the candidate about the possibility to reserve against the video recording being used. UiB will also assess whether it is necessary to obtain permission in advance, cf. the Copyright Act § 104. Permission is generally not required if the recording has topical and general interest, if who appears in the recording is less important than the main content of the photo, or the situation or activity is the real subject of the recording. Additionally, UiB must assess whether the advantage of sharing the trial lecture is sufficiently large to make up for any inconveniences for the candidate, cf. GDPR art. 6(1). Before sharing the recording, UiB must inform the candidate about how the video recording is going to be used, and it must be clear how the candidate can reserve him or herself against the recording being used as described.

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.

It is always important to let participants know how the defense will be made public over the internet and to ensure that all participants understand how this works.

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.