General requirements for doctoral theses

The general requirements for doctoral theses are specified in the

  • Universities Act, the section of the Statutes of the University of Vienna governing university studies and
  • Curriculum of the Doctoral Programme in the Natural Sciences and of the PhD Programme in the Natural Sciences in the field of Life Sciences (for both doctoral programmes, Pharmacy and Nutritonal Sciences) and the Curriculum for the PhD Programme in Sport Science.

According to the Curriculum, a doctoral thesis

  • "serves to demonstrate the candidate’s ability to master scientific topics independently" and
  • "The candidates are encouraged to publish partial results from the PhD project in scientific journals and present them at academic conferences prior to the submission of the doctoral thesis".
  • The formal rules for submitting a doctoral thesis (including formatting) must be observed; see University Gazette of 24 September 2015, 39th edition, number 260.

Guidelines for cumulative dissertations

by the Office of the Studienpräses

"The term 'cumulative dissertation' compiles scientific papers whose conclusions are not presented in the form of a monograph, but rather in that of a compilation of publications or publication manuscripts. [...] However, in their entirety and in terms of their scientific content, cumulative dissertations are subject to the formal requirements applicable to dissertations in monograph form.  [...] The publications / manuscripts shall be contextually linked and fit within the scope of a congruous, superordinate analysis, which in turn is reflected in the topic of the dissertation" [p.1 "Guidelines for Cumulative Dissertations" by the Office of the President for Studies legislation and affairs of the University of Vienna].

These "Guidelines for Cumulative Dissertations" provide a framework, which can be specified in more detail by the study programme leaders. For the Vienna Doctoral School of Pharmaceutical, Nutritional and Sport Sciences (PhaNuSpo), these are as follows:

PhaNuSpo specified guidelines for doctoral disserations


  • The doctoral thesis is the central element and proves the ability of the doctoral candidate to conduct independent scientific work on a high level.
  • The dissertation can be written in the form of a cumulative or as a monograph dissertation. In both cases, the doctoral thesis has to comply with the international standards of the discipline.


  • The VDS PhaNuSpo advises to aim for a cumulative dissertation, i.e. ideally composed of three published articles in peer-reviewed journals comprising the thesis topic as presented and approved at the public presentation at faculty (FÖP). Please use JCR-Journal Citations Reports (ideally Q1 of thematic category) and Web of Science Core Collection to discover and select most appropriate journals.
  • Ideally, two of those anticipated three publications, but at least one, have to be first or joint first author articles, i.e. original pieces (no reviews, comments, book contributions, contributions in proceedings, etc.) that have been created by the PhD student to a great extent independently. The third manuscript can be a co-authored publication in a high-impact peer-reviewed journal. When submitting the thesis, the manuscripts have to be either already published or accepted for publication in peer-reviewed periodicals/ journals, and only one manuscript of the agreed number of manuscripts may have the status 'Under review' or 'Submitted'.
  • Furthermore, other manuscripts with the PhD as an author and in context to the doctoral thesis topic can be part of the cumulative thesis.
  • The PhD candidate and the TAC [supervisor(s) and co-mentor(s)] decide together on the setting of the cumulative dissertation: number of journal articles, authorship and publication status needed for the submission of the cumulative dissertation. It is highly recommended to document this agreement in written form in the doctoral thesis agreement. In the event that there is a need to modify this agreement, the VDS PhaNuSpo appeals that the jointly decided changes are written down in the annual progress reports. Those have to be submitted annually after the doctoral thesis agreement is approved by the study programme leader.