Higher doctoral dissertations: Form, content and language requirements

A higher doctoral degree is a recognition of the fact that you possess considerable scientific insight and maturity, and that with your higher doctoral dissertation, you have made a substantial contribution to the advancement of science in relation to your previous qualifying works and the existing research in the area.

The higher doctoral dissertation may be written as a monograph or it may comprise a collection of articles and a compressed account.

Articles and compressed account 

The following guidelines are applicable for a higher doctoral dissertation which is submitted as a collection of articles and a compressed account:


  • The articles must have been accepted for publication before you can submit the dissertation.
  • The dissertation is assessed on the basis of articles which have not previously been used as the basis for an academic degree which you have previously earned.
  • If articles are included in other people's PhD dissertations or higher doctor dissertations, you must enclose the original co-author statement, and this must clearly state what your contribution has been
  • If your higher doctoral dissertation includes articles or research results that have previously formed the basis for the awarding of an academic degree, or for a positively assessed prize essay, then you must state this. The articles must be submitted separately and not as material for assesment. 

The compressed account: 

The compressed account carries crucial weight in the assessment of the higher doctor dissertation. This is where you demonstrate your considerable and independent scientific insight and maturity, and where you outline your own contribution to the substantial advancement of science (Section 3(2) of the ministerial order).

In general terms, the compressed account must:

  • Summarise and critically discuss the results achieved
  • Critically discuss strengths and weaknesses in the methodology
  • Position the results and methodology in relation to relevant international literature in the area. 

You should structure the compressed account in the following way:

  • Preface
  • The articles in the dissertation (dissertation studies): This is where you list the articles that have been submitted for assessment and which have not previously formed the basis for the awarding of an academic degree.
  • Introduction: General introduction to the topic
  • Presentation and critical discussion of the methodologies used
  • Presentation and critical discussion of the results achieved
  • ‘My dissertation’s contribution to the substantial advancement of science’: Here you summarise how your personal contribution to the scientific work that forms the basis for your higher doctoral dissertation has made a substantial contribution to the advancement of science. The section should fill 1 – 1.5 A4 pages under the heading: Min afhandlings bidrag til at bringe videnskaben et væsentligt skridt videre or in English: The substantial contribution of my dissertation to the advancement of science. 
  • Discussion of future perspectives of your research
  • Conclusion
  • Summary in English and Danish. 

Other requirements in regard to content     

The dissertation should be written in English with a Danish summary.

Health has determined the following specific requirements regarding content:

  • If the higher doctoral dissertation consists of a collection of articles, you must be the sole author of the compressed account. The compressed account may take the form of a published summary article, but you must use a separate paragraph to state how you believe you have contributed to the advancement of science with your dissertation.
  • As a general rule, review articles are not included in a higher doctoral dissertation. This requires a specific acceptance from the Higher Doctoral Dissertation Committee.
  • Patents are not part of the higher doctoral dissertation, as they are neither peer-reviewed nor subject to an academic, scientific assessment.
  • A higher doctoral dissertation must take into account and comply with Aarhus University’s policy for responsible conduct of researchthe Danish Code of Conduct for Research Integrity and the standards of responsible research practice at Health (PDF in Danish). Please refer to Rules and documentation.