Thesis types - Collection of articles and monograph - PhD

Norsk versjon: Avhandlingsformer: Artikkelbasert og monografi
Looking for something else? Topic page about PhD planning

A doctoral thesis may be written as a monograph or as a compendium of several shorter scientific or academic papers. Which type of thesis is appropriate for you will depend on the topic, norms in the field etc. and it is up to you, in cooperation with your supervisor, to decide the type of thesis. We recommend that you make this decision early on in the doctoral process.


A monograph is a unified text describing a specialist topic in detail written by a single author. A doctoral thesis written as a monograph is structured in various chapters with an introduction and a conclusion, and the PhD-candidate is the sole author. Historically, a monograph was the preferred form of doctoral thesis, and it still is in some academic fields.

Collection of articles

Collection of articles is the most common type of thesis at NTNU today and it is becoming increasingly common in fields that have previously been dominated by the monograph.

There are few absolute requirements in the PhD regulations as concerns this kind of thesis and a lot will therefore depend on the individual thesis and the norms in the field as concerns number of articles, length of summary article etc.

When a thesis consists of several shorter papers, the thesis must include clarification concerning how they are interrelated. Such a clarification is often called a summary article.

If any of the articles is written in cooperation with others, you must follow the rules and regulations concerning co-authorship. If the thesis mainly consists of articles, you should normally be the main author or first author of at least half the articles. A written statement from each co-author should follow the thesis, detailing your and the co-authors’ contribution. Your independent contribution should be identifiable.

Guidelines for the Assessment of Candidates for Norwegian Doctoral Degrees contains more information on how the assessment committee is to evaluate an article-based thesis.

Faculty-specific recommendations and guidelines

Faculty of Architecture and Design:
The scientific thesis may consist of

  1. A monograph
  2. A compendium of several shorter scientific manuscripts. If the thesis consists of several shorter scientific works, the introductory and summary chapters («kappa») must present how the shorter pieces of work are interrelated. These chapters must document the integrated nature of the work through a summary of the research questions and conclusions presented in the shorter pieces of work. The methods that are used in the thesis must be described. In addition, the thesis must be placed within a theoretical and methodological framework.

    The Faculty normally requires that at least 3 peer-reviewed articles are included in the thesis. The articles are expected to have been reviewed by channels registered in the UHR system for approval of publication channels. At least one of the articles must have been published. At least two of the three peer-reviewed articles must be articles for journals. The candidate is normally expected to be the lead author of at least two articles.
  3. A written component in combination with a permanently documented product or a production. This approach may be especially relevant where scientific approaches based upon design and/or architectural practice are an essential part of the thesis. The permanently documented product or production must be a result of architectural and/or design practice at a high international level, e.g., one or more prototypes or exhibitions. The written component must take the form of an overarching reflection which places the thesis in a theoretical and methodological framework.

    If several permanent products or productions are part of the doctoral work the reflection must describe how these are interrelated, as well as describe the integration of the thesis through the combination of research questions and conclusions that are presented in the works.

The languages that can be used in the thesis are English, Norwegian, Swedish, or Danish. Candidates who wish to write their thesis in a language other than those specified must apply for this. All theses that are written in another language than Norwegian must have a Norwegian summary (Section 1-7 in the Norwegian Universities Act).

Faculty of Engineering Science and Technology: A collection of articles should contain at least three scientific articles in recognized international peer-reviewed journals. At least one article where the candidate is the main or first author must be accepted for publication. The candidate must be the main or first author of at least two articles.

Faculty of Humanities: The Faculty has compiled a set of recommendations for article-based thesis: The doctoral thesis as a collection of articles (pdf)

Faculty of Medicine: A collection of articles usually consists of three scientific articles/manuscripts publishable in international peer-reviewed journals. At least one of the articles should be accepted for publication. The candidate should be the first author of at least two articles/manuscripts. In instances where the candidate is not the first author, she/he should have given a substantial contribution to the article. For more information, see the supplementary guidelines to the PhD-regulations.