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Writing the Thesis

Schreiben der Dissertation / Writing the Thesis

Schreiben der Dissertation / Writing the Thesis
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You can either submit a monograph or a cumulative thesis. As a general rule, both must be comparable/equivalent in terms of type and scope. The thesis must be written in one language throughout either English or German (with the exception of the German and English summary). This also applies to the acknowledgments and any quotes used.
In exceptional cases, the doctoral board shall decide whether the requirement for a cumulative work to be entirely in either German or English can be waived if the work consists of articles in both German and English.

When preparing the dissertation, please observe the requirements of the Statute for Safeguarding Good Scientific Practice. If you have any questions about citations, please use the citation consultation hours at the University Library.

Please note: When you are submitting your dissertation to obtain the title "Dr. rer. nat.", the term "Ph.D." should not be used in the acknowledgements (or any other section) - this is a different title, which will not be awarded to you after a successful doctorate.

A monograph is a self-contained representation of the research work and its results. It may already be published completely or partially.
Any publications related to the thesis have to be submitted separately. They must not be embedded in the thesis.

A cumulative thesis reports the scientific work done during the doctoral thesis using a set of research articles. In a cumulative thesis, the research articles (including supporting information/supplements) are an integral part of the thesis and have to be embedded in the scientific part of the thesis (like the chapters of a monograph). In addition to the research articles, an introduction, a list of references etc., a cumulative thesis must include an extended summary which has to go beyond the summary of the individual papers as it has to give an overarching discussion of the results described in the research articles. Although figures may be taken from the publications, the text should be genuinely new and should not be taken from the text of the individual publications. The contributions of the author must be described for each article individually, according to the requirements of the Statute for Safeguarding Good Scientific Practice.

A cumulative thesis must consist of at least two published or accepted publications. Only publications from journals with a peer review system will be considered. All additional publications might be in an earlier stage (in revision, submitted or in preparation). The version submitted cannot be changed or updated in the further course of the doctoral process, i.e. changes to the content as part of the publication process cannot be taken into account once the dissertation has been submitted. Only those articles qualify in which the doctoral student has made substantial contributions. The substantial contribution of the doctoral student to the respective articles must be confirmed by the supervisor of the thesis. This confirmation is requested by the doctoral office as part of the evaluation process. In case of manuscripts being accepted but not yet published, a confirmation of acceptance must be provided at the time of thesis submission; to this end, it is also possible to submit a separate list with DOI links.

For more information on writing a cumulative thesis, click here.

Directives to write the thesis: It is not permitted to use the logo of Freie Universität Berlin on theses.

1) First page = cover sheet

to obtain the academic degree
Doctor rerum naturalium (Dr. rer. nat.)

submitted to the Department of Biology, Chemistry, Pharmacy
of Freie Universität Berlin



year of submission

2) Second page:

Please name the time period, supervisor and institute of your doctoral studies.

1st reviewer: _____________________
2nd reviewer: _____________________

Date of defense: ____________ (please leave the date open)

One reviewer must be research active in one of our departmental research areas.
At least one reviewer must be a professor of the Department of Biology, Chemistry, Pharmacy, whose primary employment is with the university. (Retired, em., apl., hon. professors are not or no longer considered university teachers).

3) Third page: acknowledgment (if desired)

4) Declaration of authorship
    Please use the following text:
    I hereby declare that I alone am responsible for the content of my doctoral dissertation
    and that I have only used the sources or references cited in the dissertation.

If you are writing an English-language dissertation, please note that all texts must be in English (with the exception of the German-language summary), including the acknowledgments and the declaration of authorship.

5) Outline

6) Summary in German and English

7) Main scientific part of the thesis (incl. introduction, method section, bibliography)

8) If applicable: List of publications

9) CV (voluntary)

10) Appendix

Typeface/line distance/formatting

Sheet size: DIN A4
Font: an easy-to-read font (such as Arial).
Font size: not less than 10 pt
Line spacing: 1½
Margin: approx. 2.5 - 3 cm
Unilateral and bilateral printing is accepted.
The thesis has to be bound (no spiral or ring binding).

Answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ) can be found here. 

Read on for the next topic: Submission of the Thesis