Ph.D. in Software and Systems

PhD Thesis

Introduction

Royal Decree 99/2011, of 28 January, governing accredited doctoral degree programmes, implements the third cycle of accredited higher education, amending issues related to doctoral thesis preparation and assessment, including international doctorate programmes. Additionally, the first transitional provision of Royal Decree 99/2011 stipulates that any doctoral students that have commenced their doctoral programmes under previous arrangements (specifically, Royal Decree 1393/2007 and its amendment Royal Decree 861/2010) when Royal Decree 99/2011 takes effect shall be subject to the implementing provisions concerning the respective doctoral programme and the issuance of the respective doctoral degree certificate. However, the doctoral thesis examining board, defence and assessment system provided by Royal Decree 99/2011 shall be applicable to all students, irrespective of the programme under which and the date on which they commenced their doctoral programme.

On this ground, the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid has established PhD Thesis Preparation and Assessment Regulations addressing the following points:

Deadline for presenting PhD theses

According to the transitional provision of R.D. 99/2011, all PhD in Software and Systems students have a non-extensible period in which to complete their PhD programme (defend their PhD thesis) depending on the date on which they first enrolled the academic supervision:

The deadlines established in the latter case are as follows:

PhD thesis supervisor

No later than six months as of their enrolment, PhD candidates shall be appointed a thesis supervisor by the PhD in Software and Systems Academic Committee to advise on the preparation of their PhD thesis. Thesis supervisors shall be programme faculty members holding a PhD and having accredited research experience. Faculty non-members shall also be eligible provided that they comply with the PhD in Software and Systems and standard UPM PhD programme criteria.

A student's PhD thesis supervisor and tutor do not necessarily have to be the same person.

New students commencing their research period are advised to contact several members of the programme academic staff, as well as Computer Languages and Systems and Software Engineering Department research groups in order to fine tune the topic that they intend to research. Any students that reach an agreement with a particular member of the academic staff to supervise their thesis as a result of such contacts should advise the programme administrative officer (Ms Alicia Andrés) thereof. All students shall have to have selected a research topic no later than six months as of the start of the academic year so that the PhD in Software and Systems Academic Committee can assign thesis supervisors. Otherwise, the PhD in Software and Systems Academic Committee shall assign students a thesis supervisor ex officio.

PhD thesis co-supervision

On academic grounds, where, for example, topics are interdisciplinary or programmes have national or international partners, a PhD thesis may be co-supervised by more than one thesis supervisor holding a PhD degree and having accredited research experience. The PhD candidate shall have to apply to the PhD in Software and Systems Academic Committee for co-supervision using the Thesis co-supervision application form. The Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros Informáticos shall forward the respective application to the UPM PhD Committee, which shall take into account the report issued for the purpose by the PhD in Software and Systems Academic Committee.

The UPM PhD Committee may request any further reports it requires and shall decide on the application in no more than two months.

The aforesaid authorization may be withdrawn at a later date if the UPM PhD Committee resolves that co-supervision is of no benefit to thesis development.

PhD thesis supervisor substitution

Any PhD candidate that would like to substitute their PhD thesis supervisor shall have to apply to the PhD in Software and Systems Academic Committee using the Thesis supervisor substitution application form. Thesis supervisors can be substituted any time up until the PhD thesis is deposited. The Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros Informáticos shall then apply to the UPM PhD Committee for the thesis supervisor to be substituted.

The UPM PhD Committee may request any further reports it requires and shall decide on the application within two months.

Research plan

PhD candidates shall draft a research plan every day. This research plan shall state at least the PhD thesis title, research methodology and goals, as well as the research resources and time chart. Students shall draft their first research plan before the end of their first year on the programm. If students want to modify later the PhD title, they will have to apply to the Doctoral Committee by the form to modify the PhD title. This research plan shall be improved and further specified in successive years.

The PhD candidate and the thesis supervisor or supervisors shall be responsible for submitting the annual research plan to the PhD in Software and Systems Academic Committee detailing the progress and the most significant interim results of the PhD thesis research. Only students that have paid the academic supervision fees shall be entitled to submit this report. The UPM PhD Committee shall establish the format and submission date for this report.

The PhD in Software and Systems Academic Committee shall annually assess each PhD candidate's research plan, plus the reports to be issued by the thesis supervisor for the purpose. Students shall not be allowed to continue on the programme unless they receive a positive assessment.

In the event of a negative assessment, which shall be duly justified, PhD candidates shall have to prepare another research plan for reassessment within six months.

If the reassessment is negative again, PhD candidates shall be expelled from the programme.

Instructions for writing and presenting PhD theses

PhD theses shall be written and defended preferably in Spanish, although they may also be written in English. In any case, they shall have to include a summary in both Spanish and English (maximum 4000 characters). Additionally, if duly justified and reasoned, the UPM PhD Committee may authorize, at the request of the PhD candidate and with the consent of the Escuela de Informática, theses to be written and presented in a different language (Application for language other than Spanish or English).

In the event of applications for the International Doctorate, theses may be written and presented in any of the languages commonly used in scientific communication in the respective branch of knowledge other than any of the official languages of Spain.

PhD theses that are written in neither Spanish nor English should include an additional summary in Spanish or English (minimum 20 pages).

Out of regard for non-Spanish-speaking academic staff sitting on the board, theses may be defended in a language other than Spanish provided that all the board members agree.

Theses shall be written according to the following instructions prepared for the purpose by the UPM, taking into account that they should be submitted electronically.

Assessment before proceeding to PhD thesis defence

The PhD in Software and Systems Academic Committee must assure the quality of PhD theses before their formal presentation. The PhD in Software and Systems Academic Committee is responsible for verifying the continual improvement of the final PhD dissertation to be submitted by PhD candidates.

Report issued by PhD thesis supervisor

PhD candidates that have completed their research, written a preliminary version of their thesis and received a positive assessment of the latest research plan submitted shall inform the PhD in Software and Systems Academic Committee that they would like to proceed to the pre-defence of their thesis, attaching a report from the PhD thesis supervisor or supervisors Thesis supervisor reporting form).

PhD thesis pre-defence or equivalent procedure

No later than 30 days as of the submission of the above report, the PhD candidates shall proceed to a pre-defence before a panel of experts with accredited research experience and picked by the PhD in Software and Systems Academic Committee (the choice shall be delegated to the programme coordinator and shall take about a week) in the presence of the thesis supervisor or supervisors.

The pre-defence may be replaced by an equivalent mechanism that assures the quality of PhD theses through the assessment of the quality indicators submitted by PhD candidates. In order to opt out of the public pre-defence proceedings, PhD candidates shall have to have authored at least two articles (on the research developed in the thesis) in JCR-listed publications and have the approval of their thesis supervisor or supervisors.

Prior to public pre-defence or equivalent procedure, PhD candidates shall, in any case, have to submit a PDF file containing a draft or 20-page summary of their PhD thesis referencing the state of the art, scientific methodology, original contributions, references and conclusions, plus any preliminary results disseminated in publications (which should be listed on the Thesis results form and also be submitted via the Politécnica Virtual web environment).

PhD candidates shall not be allowed to proceed to pre-defence unless they have previously disseminated some preliminary results in a peer-reviewed publication. The PhD in Software and Systems Academic Committee may establish requirements to assure the quality of the publication.

Application for pre-defence or equivalent procedure

The PhD candidate shall have to submit the following documents to the programme administrative officer in order to apply for the pre-defence or equivalent procedure:

  1. A PDF file containing the draft of the PhD thesis.
  2. A document listing publication details reporting PhD thesis results.
  3. A PDF dossier with publications derived from the PhD thesis. For each article, the dossier should contain:
    • The cover of the journal, congress proceedings, etc., in which the article was published.
    • The contents page of the publication (listing the article related to the PhD thesis).
    • A copy of the pages of the above publication, including the full text of the article (a downloaded copy of the article, if it is an online publication). The manuscript submitted for publication by the doctoral candidate shall only be acceptable if the paper has been accepted and not yet been published (in this case, the letter of acceptance should also be attached).
    • Additional documents specifying the quality data supplied in the document listing the publication details (impact factor, paper acceptance rate, type of review, etc.).
    • A list of web addresses against which the submitted documents can be checked.
  4. The doctoral candidate must enter all the data on the scientific output of the PhD thesis through the Politécnica Virtual online application.
  5. PhD thesis supervisor’s authorization.

After document submission, the draft of the PhD thesis and the dossier of publications will be submitted to two experts. The supervisor or supervisors will be notified of the panel of experts. The supervisors shall have to contact the experts and the PhD candidate to arrange the date and time for the pre-defence procedure, if any. The administrative officer shall be notified of this date and time in order to book the venue and announce the pre-defence.

Pre-defence or equivalent procedure reports

All members of the panel of experts responsible for appraising the pre-defence or equivalent procedure shall issue a report for the purpose (pre-defence or equivalent procedure report). The reports by the panel of experts shall be submitted to the PhD programme administration office on the date of the pre-defence or, for equivalent proceedings, no later than two weeks as of the appointment of the panel of experts.

In the event of a duly reasoned and justified negative report, PhD candidates shall have to modify or rewrite the research and resubmit the thesis for pre-defence or equivalent procedure. If the report contains suggestions for improvement, the PhD in Software and Systems Academic Committee shall decide whether to make it compulsory for or leave it to the PhD candidate or PhD thesis supervisor or supervisors to make the suggested changes to the final dissertation.

Final authorization by the PhD programme academic committee

The PhD in Software and Systems Academic Committee shall not be able to authorize the PhD thesis to proceed to defence unless the pre-defence or equivalent procedure report is positive and it has checked that any compulsory changes have been made.

The PhD thesis supervisor or supervisors and the PhD candidate shall be notified by the PhD in Software and Systems Academic Committee of the decision on whether or not the thesis has been authorized to proceed to defence and the respective grounds, if any, no later than a fortnight as of it receiving the pre-defence or equivalent procedure report.

Before a PhD thesis can be admitted to defence proceedings, PhD candidates shall have to have published some preliminary results in highly reputed specialized journals listed in JCR or in CORE A or A* conferences, or own use patents evidenced by means of a purchase agreement or licensing contract. In any case, the affiliation of the student must be the UPM.

The Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros Informáticos shall submit the respective report certifying to the aforesaid preliminary results having been published to the UPM PhD Committee before PhD theses are deposited.

PhD thesis confidentiality

Under exceptional circumstances, for example, where there are non-disclosure agreements with companies or there is a possibility of patents being generated covering the thesis content, the school or college responsible for the PhD programme shall be able to apply to the UPM PhD Committee for thesis confidentiality.

The UPM PhD Committee may request any further reports it requires and shall decide on the application within two months.

The aforesaid authorization may be withdrawn at a later date if the UPM PhD Committee decides that the aforesaid circumstances no longer apply.

Proposing board members

The PhD in Software and Systems Academic Committee shall propose seven doctors with accredited research experience and specialized in the subject matter to which the thesis refers or a related area (Board member proposal form).

The Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros Informáticos shall submit this proposal to the UPM PhD Committee before students deposit their PhD thesis and attach a reasoned report on the qualifications of each and every one of the members proposed to sit on the PhD thesis examining board. The acceptance of the members proposed to sit on the board shall have to be certified Board member acceptance form).

In the event of PhD theses that are subject to confidentiality clauses, all proposed board members shall have to sign a statement undertaking not to disclose the content.

No more than two members from the same higher education institution or organization shall be eligible to sit on a thesis examining board. A member that meets any of the criteria for abstention established in article 28 of Act 30/1992 of 26 November shall not be eligible to sit on a board.

Higher education academic staff shall be eligible to sit on PhD thesis boards even if they are on leave, in retirement, on special services or secondment, in which case they are considered to be members of the higher education institution where they are serving at the time. Retired faculty members shall be considered as members of the higher education institution at which they were serving before retirement.

If the submitted information is considered to be incomplete, the UPM PhD Committee may request further particulars to assess the qualifications of the proposed candidates. The acceptance of the members proposed to sit on the board shall be entered in the student's academic record.

Enrolling for PhD thesis defence

Having been authorized by the PhD in Software and Systems Academic Committee to proceed to the defence of their thesis, PhD candidates have to enrol for PhD thesis defence. To do so, they shall have to pay the enrolment fee and any outstanding annual academic supervision fees, including charges for the on-going year. PhD candidates shall not be allowed to deposit their PhD thesis until they have enrolled.

Depositing PhD theses

Once all the required formalities for thesis defence have been completed, the Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros Informáticos shall apply to the UPM PhD Committee for admission of the PhD thesis for deposit. The PhD thesis shall be immediately admitted for deposit provided that the following formalities are found to have been completed:

  1. PhD candidates have:
    1. presented and approved the Research Plan corresponding to the previous year
    2. paid the PhD thesis defence enrolment fees (submission of payment slip)
    3. paid the academic supervision fees
    4. submitted, via the channels set up for the purpose, the digital version of the PhD thesis (PDF) and supplementary material (zip), if applicable
    5. submitted a summary of the PhD thesis in both Spanish and English (max. 4000 characters)
    6. entered all the information concerning PhD thesis results via the Politécnica Virtual web environment
    7. submitted the digital version of the thesis and supplementary materials of PhD theses subject to confidentiality clauses that do not include the parts that are not to be disclosed
    8. completed the TESEO record for their PhD thesis
    9. in the case of requesting international doctorate, provided all relevant documentation (certification of stay, expert reports, curriculum experts...)
  2. The Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros Informáticos has:
    1. given final authorization for the presentation of the thesis and stated whether the PhD thesis is eligible for an international doctorate.
    2. certified the publication of the preliminary results of the thesis, which PhD candidates shall have entered via the Politécnica Virtual web environment
    3. submitted the PhD thesis board member proposal application
    4. approved or submitted to the UPM PhD Committee the application for confidentiality for PhD theses subject to non-disclosure agreements
    5. submitted the required documentation for PhD theses eligible for the international doctorate.

PhD theses have to be deposited for 15 days as of the day after the acceptance of their deposit.

The Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros Informáticos has to notify PhD programme academic staff that the thesis has been deposited and give them access to a provisional copy of the PhD thesis forwarded to the UPM PhD Committee.

The UPM PhD Committee shall announce all theses deposited at any time on the UPM's website. The office of the vice rector responsible for PhD programmes shall set up the procedure to be followed by any duly accredited doctor to gain access to the full text of deposited theses and, if applicable, submit, in the written format of their choice, any comments they would like to make to the PhD programme academic committee by the end of the deposit period.

If any comments are raised, the school or college responsible for the PhD programme shall review the content and write to the UPM PhD Committee stating its opinion on whether the process should proceed or be stopped. They have a period of seven days as of the expiry of the deposit period to do so.

Authorization to proceed to PhD thesis defence

If no comments have been raised by the end of the deposit period or any that were raised have been addressed, the UPM PhD Committee has to decide whether or not to authorize the thesis to proceed to defence.

The Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros Informáticos shall be notified of the decision, which shall then be reported to the PhD in Software and Systems Academic Committee and to the PhD candidate and the thesis supervisor or supervisors within at most five days. If the thesis is not authorized to proceed to defence, the grounds and reasons for the decision have to be specified.

The UPM PhD Committee's decision shall be considered firm and final and puts an end to the administrative procedure.

Appointing the examination board

At the same time as it notifies its decision authorizing the PhD thesis to proceed to defence, the UPM PhD Committee shall approve the board that is to examine the thesis considering the proposal submitted by the Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros Informáticos. The board shall be composed of five regular members and two substitute members.

The UPM PhD Committee shall appoint two of the board members as chair and secretary of the board.

In the event of the resignation, on a justified ground, of a regular member of the board, the chair shall proceed to appoint one of the substitute members. If the examining board chair has unexpectedly to be substituted, the Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros Informáticos shall put forward one of the members sitting on the board to stand in. In any case, the UPM PhD Committee must be notified of the substitution as soon as possible.

The Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros Informáticos shall be notified of the appointment of the board so that it can forward the notification of appointment and a copy of the thesis to each member. The Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros Informáticos shall also have to notify the PhD candidate and thesis supervisor or supervisors of the board's appointment within five days.

The thesis shall have to be defended no later than three months after the board is appointed. Otherwise, a proposal of board members shall have to be resubmitted to the UPM PhD Committee.

Defending and assessing PhD theses

PhD thesis defence proceedings

Notice of the defence proceedings shall be served by the chair and notified by the secretary to the board members with sufficient advance notice.

Once notice of the proceedings has been served, the chair of the board shall establish the proper substitution procedures. If any of the members fail show up on the date set for the public defence and presentation proceedings, the substitutes shall join the board. If this is not possible, the chair shall, after deliberation with the other members and the chair of the PhD in Software and Systems Committee, decide whether or not the defence proceedings should go ahead. For the defence to go ahead, at least four members shall have to be present. If it is decided to suspend the proceedings, another date shall be set for the defence in agreement with the other members of the board and the PhD candidate. Any changes to the board shall have to be notified to the UPM PhD Committee as soon as possible.

If any member is prevented by an act of God from attending the defence proceedings but remote access (audio or video conferencing) is an option, the board's chair has, in accordance with the applicable legislation, the authority to allow the member to attend remotely under the same conditions as the members present and to participate in the defence proceedings and subsequent deliberations.

The PhD thesis shall be assessed at the defence proceedings. These proceedings shall take place in a public hearing and shall consist of the presentation and defence of the developed research work by the PhD candidate before the members of the board.

The board that assesses the thesis shall have access to the PhD student activity document (for students enrolled as of the 2013/14 academic year) stating the training activities that they have completed. This document is designed for monitoring purposes and shall not result in a quantitative score. It shall, however, serve as a qualitative assessment mechanism to supplement the examination of PhD theses.

The board members shall have to express their opinion and shall ask the PhD candidate as many questions as they see fit. Any doctors present at the public hearing shall be entitled to ask questions at the time and in the manner stated by the chair of the board.

Assessing theses

At the end of the defence and discussion of the PhD thesis, each board member shall write an appraisal of the thesis (Thesis appraisal form).

The assessing board will issue a report and the overall grading granted to the thesis according on the following scale: "rejected", "accepted", "outstanding" and "distinction". The assessing board may grant the "cum laude" mention if the overall grading is "distinction" and is casted in such sense the secret vote unanimously.

Each board member shall issue a secret vote on whether or not to award the "cum laude" distinction. These votes shall be placed in an envelope that shall be sealed and signed on the top flap by all the board members. The secretary of the board shall deliver the envelope to the secretary of the PhD Program, who shall forward it to the PhD Program Academic Committee.

At the next PhD Program Academic Committee meeting, the envelope containing the secret votes will be opened. The PhD thesis shall be awarded the "cum laude" distinction if the board votes unanimously in favour.

Archiving PhD theses in digital format

After PhD theses have been accepted, the higher education institution shall take charge of digitally archiving and forwarding a copy of the respective thesis and any necessary supplementary information electronically to the ministry responsible for PhD programmes for the appropriate purposes.

Any PhD theses subject to non-disclosure clauses shall be published in the UPM's open repository once the protection or knowledge transfer process has come to an end, which circumstance the PhD candidate shall duly report to the UPM.

Doctors interested in having their theses published can follow the instructions listed here or register for thesis self-archiving.

Applying for PhD degree certificates

Once the public thesis defence and presentation proceedings are complete and the PhD thesis has been accepted, PhD candidates shall be eligible to apply to the Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros Informáticos Registry for their PhD degree certificate, for which purpose they shall have to pay the respective fees.

International doctorate

"International Doctor" shall be added to the reverse of the PhD degree certificate (International doctorate application form) under the following circumstances:

  1. PhD candidates have, during the period necessary for the award of the PhD degree, spent at least three months outside Spain at a prestigious higher education institution or research centre, taking PhD courses or conducting research work recognized by their higher education institution. The visit and activities shall have to be endorsed by the director of and authorized by the PhD in Software and Systems Academic Committee. An original certificate issued by the institution of higher education or research centre where the stay is completed must be provided. Such certification should include the dates of beginning and end of the stay, as well as the research group director in which the student has collaborated.
  2. Part of the PhD thesis, at least the summary and the conclusions, has been written and presented in one of the usual languages of scientific communication in the respective branch of knowledge other than any of the official languages of Spain. This rule shall not be applicable if the visits, reports and experts involve a Spanish-speaking country.
  3. At least two experts from a non-Spanish higher education institution or research institute have given their review of the manuscript (Experts thesis report). The two original reports of the experts accompanied by a brief Curriculum Vita of each of them should be submitted.
  4. At least one member of the thesis examining board holding a doctoral degree and not responsible for the visits mentioned in either sections 1 or 3 should be from a non-Spanish higher education institution or research centre.

Theses shall be defended at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid.

The University will provide a document stating the mention "International Doctor". Also, it will be added "International Doctor" to the reverse of the PhD degree certificate.

Extraordinary PhD awards

The prizes shall be awarded to worthy applicants who defended a thesis in the previous academic year that was graded «cum laude».

Applications shall be addressed to the dean of the Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros Informáticos and submitted to the UPM general registry by the closing date established by the UPM PhD Committee.

Schools and colleges shall then formulate reasoned proposals for the award of the prizes, subject to a report by the academic committees of the PhD programmes taken by the candidates for extraordinary PhD prizes. These proposals shall be forwarded, together with the applications submitted by applicants, to the UPM PhD Committee by the date set by the aforesaid Committee.

Finally, the UPM PhD Committee shall award the extraordinary PhD prizes, all of which shall be of equal rank.

Calculating deadlines

The periods established in these regulations shall be calculated as calendar days, not including the period from 1 to 31 August. Deadlines that fall on a Saturday shall be extended to the next working day.