Applying for the title of docent

Effective as of 1 January 2021 (Finnish-language original approved by the Faculty Council on 15 September 2020).

Basis of the title of docent
Section 89 of the Universities Act (558/2009) stipulates that a university may, upon application, award the title of docent to a person who has comprehensive knowledge of his or her field, a capacity for independent research demonstrated through publications or some other manner, and good teaching skills.

Granting the title of docent
According to section 52 of the Regulations of the University of Helsinki (15 April 2015), the chancellor may grant the title of docent at the proposal of the faculty council. All docentships are associated with the University of Helsinki, not individual faculties.

Effects of receiving the title of docent
A docent is a distinguished member of the academic community, known for having high scientific qualifications and good teaching skills. At the Faculty of Medicine, docents play a major role in the promotion of research, doctoral education and clinical medicine. They also fulfil an important role in the academic community by providing teaching.

Under section 52 of the Regulations of the University of Helsinki (15 April 2015), a docent may participate in the provision of teaching in his or her discipline, the supervision of students and the examination of dissertations and theses as well as in other academic activities, as separately agreed on a case-by-case basis.

Granting the title of docent does not constitute a contract of employment with the University, nor are docents entitled to fees or the benefits available to the University staff without a separate agreement.

According to the instructions issued by the chancellor on 12 May 2020, the title of docent (dosentti in Finnish) cannot be translated from Finnish to other languages in a way that gives a misleading impression of the affiliation the title provides with the University. Consequently, the English translation ‘adjunct professor’ must not be used, but rather the recommended English translation is ‘title of docent’ in explanatory texts, with ‘docent’ as the direct title.

The title of docent is a qualification requirement for certain posts at the Helsinki University Hospital.

Docent contract
In accordance with Rector’s Decision No 2/4/2010 (13 December 2010), docents who are not members of University of Helsinki staff, but wish to be more active members of the Faculty community and interact with the University can conclude a docent contract with the Faculty unit responsible for their field of science that agrees on the forms and terms of cooperation. The contract does not constitute a contract of employment with the University, but rather determines the right and benefits the docent is entitled to when participating in the activities of the Faculty or unit. Those who conclude a docent contract are reimbursed for their work, as separately agreed before the beginning of teaching or other duties.

Both parties must be willing to conclude the docent contract. It is approved by the unit director, who considers whether it meets the unit’s needs and interests. The contract must specify the relevant forms of cooperation and the validity period of the contract in years. The contract can be terminated by both parties before its validity expires, or be renewed after its expiry. After the conclusion of the docent contract, practical arrangements are made together with University Services. The docent receives the University’s IT credentials and email address as well as access to information systems and library databases.

The docent contract is concluded online.

Title of docent upon retirement
A docent who retires can conclude a docent contract. Applying for the title of docent is not necessary for professors emeriti who wish to retain contact with the University of Helsinki. In accordance with Rector’s Decisions No 2/3/2010 and 2/4/2010 (13 December 2010), an emeritus professor can conclude a professor contract equivalent in content to a docent contract.

Title of docent granted before the entry into force of the current Universities Act (558/2009)
On 25 January 2020, the chancellor of the University of Helsinki issued a decision granting the title of docent to those who were University of Helsinki docents on the date in question.

Applying for the title of docent
A docentship can be applied for by sending the requested application documents to dosenttiasiat-ltdk (at) by the application deadline.

Applications completed in accordance with the application instructions (see also Instructions and forms -> Application instructions) and submitted by the deadline will be considered by the docentship committee at its following meeting. Deficient applications are not considered.

The Faculty of Medicine requests that applicants submit the following documents saved in accordance with the application instructions as a single PDF file:

1. Application form
A signed application form. The application form must also contain information on the proposed assessors.

2. Curriculum vitae and degree certificates
The curriculum vitae should be between one and two pages in length. The application must be accompanied by copies of the undergraduate and doctoral degree certificates as well as service certificates. If the applicant is not a Finnish citizen, a copy of the first page of the applicant’s passport must also be attached.

The curriculum vitae must include information on proficiency in the second national language of Finland (Swedish for Finnish speakers, and Finnish for Swedish speakers). If the degree certificate makes no mention of language proficiency, the application must be accompanied by a certificate of language proficiency.

A foreign citizen or a non-native Finnish citizen may be granted the title of docent even if he or she is not proficient in Finnish or Swedish. In such cases, the person in question is simultaneously exempted in accordance with section 32 of the Regulations of the University of Helsinki from the requirement concerning proficiency in Finnish and Swedish laid down in the Government Decree on Universities.

3. List of publications
On 29 October 1982 and 5 February 1985, the Faculty decided the following on lists of publications:

“The position of docent is academic in nature, and when assessing the qualifications of applicants, the focus must be on the quality and scope of their scholarly publication activities.  The decision on the qualifications of each applicant is made by the Faculty Council. Consequently, it is important that each member of the Faculty community has the opportunity to explore the scientific qualifications of applicants rather than making their decision on the basis of assessor statements alone.”

The Faculty requires that applicants classify their publications as follows:

A. Articles included in the doctoral thesis

B. Other original articles
Original articles are texts which include, as their key content, research results not included in other articles and which have been published in international peer-reviewed scientific publication series. Manuscripts accepted for publication (‘in press’) can be included in the list of publications by specifying that they have been ‘accepted for publication’. In such cases, the letter of acceptance must be attached. Manuscripts submitted for publication and manuscripts currently under peer review or preparation cannot be included in the list of publications.

C. Original articles in international compilations or printed conference proceedings. This does not apply to summaries, of which only the number should be reported.

D. Case studies published in international peer-reviewed publication series

E. Reviews and editorials in international scientific journals and textbooks

F. Original articles and reviews in Finnish textbooks and peer-reviewed publication series

G. Popular science articles

H. Online material

Layout of the list of publications:
The applicant’s name must be highlighted in bold or underlined. The list must mention all authors (the ‘et al.’ convention should not be used).

The applicant must note in the list of publications whether he or she has contributed equally to the publication with, for example, the first author. To do so, the applicant should use an asterisk (*) to indicate authors who have contributed equally and add the following in bold at the end of the citation: ‘*Equal contribution’.

The applicant must be the author of the article, or the publication must otherwise indicate that the applicant has actively contributed to the planning of the research, the analysis of the results or the writing of the article (e.g., as a member of a protocol writing committee or reading centre). Serving as a local data collector or equivalent (e.g., collaborator or investigator) is not sufficient. In the latter case, the list of authors typically ends with the name of the research group, preceded by the words ‘for the [name of consortium]’ or ‘on behalf of the [name of consortium]’, and the members of the consortium are listed elsewhere in the publication. This type of participation in consortium research can be mentioned elsewhere in the curriculum vitae.

The list of publications must be based on the Vancouver system (e.g., Wilson DH, Thyson WT: Title of article. Am J Clin Patol 1991; 29:762–770).

Each publication must be followed by:

1. The impact factor of the publication series (Journal Citation Reports)

2. The rank of the publication series in publications in the field (Journal Citation Reports)

3. Information on how many times the publication has been cited in the literature (Web of Science)

The above information can be obtained from the Meilahti Campus Library Terkko.

4. Open access publications must be indicated by adding the words ‘open access’ in bold at the end of the citation. Only peer-reviewed open access publications are considered original publications, and they are assessed on a case-by-case basis. Applicants themselves must assess their experience of the publication process and its scientific nature. The docentship committee pays particular attention to the eligibility of such publications as original publications when assessing the application. The following sources can be used in the self-assessment:

The assessment is primarily based on the quality of publications, taking into account field-specific features and articles that have been published or accepted for publication in international refereed publication series. The number of such publications is typically at least 20.

As a rule, case studies are not considered original articles. If a case study is put forward as an original publication, the applicant must state why it should be accepted as such. This requires that the key content of the publication includes original scientific research results not included in other articles.

In accordance with Faculty Council decisions on 14 June 2016 and 15 September 2020, the scientific output of applicants must demonstrate that they have developed their own line of research and that their research continues actively. The criterion for active research means that at least two of the 20 original publications listed by the applicant must have appeared in the past 36 months.

As per the Faculty Council decision of 9 May 2017, applications for psychology and logopedics have been processed from 9 May 2019 in accordance with the Faculty of Medicine requirements also with regard to the number of publications.

4. List of the selected 20 publications
Applicants must draw up a list of publications based on the Faculty instructions.

5. Informal report on the scientific research field and personal contribution to research work
The maximum length of this report is two pages.

6. Report on postgraduate research education
In accordance with the Faculty Council decision of 23 February 1999, postgraduate research education can include Finnish or international doctoral education, courses, participation in Finnish and international conferences in the field, and other similar qualifications. Competitive research funding acquired by applicants also demonstrates their ability to conduct independent scientific work and thus counts as an asset.

7. Report on teaching qualifications
Applicants must report their teaching qualifications using the Faculty’s form designed for this purpose.

The application must be accompanied by a report on the courses completed.

The application must be accompanied by a certificate of pedagogical studies.

Section 89 of the Universities Act (558/2009) stipulates that docents must have good teaching skills. At the Faculty of Medicine, good teaching skills can be primarily demonstrated through full-time work as a teacher for at least two years or theoretical studies in education worth at least five credits. The Faculty Council recommends that applicants seek pedagogical training before submitting an application. Applicants can also demonstrate their teaching skills in other ways, in which case the docentship committee assesses the sufficiency of teaching qualifications in compliance with the matrix for the assessment of teaching skills.

The Faculty hopes that applicants have participated actively in educating young researchers and supervising their research. Qualifications in research education can be demonstrated, for example, by specifying the number of supervised advanced studies theses and master’s theses, the quality of publications being worked on by doctoral students, and the organisation of doctoral education courses.

In line with the Dean’s Decision of 22 March 2011, the docentship committee serves as the teaching skills committee for those applying for the title of docent. If necessary, the committee can request  a statement on applicants’ teaching qualifications from the Faculty's teaching skills committee.

8. Demonstration of teaching skills
Applicants must demonstrate their teaching skills through a lecture or equivalent teaching session. In practice, this usually takes place after the application for the title of docent has been submitted. The teaching demonstration must be in the scientific field applied for, and it must take place sufficiently close to the time of application. The docentship committee can be requested to assess whether a previous teaching demonstration given in another context can be used. If a teaching demonstration has been given at another university, a new demonstration is always required. A teaching demonstration is approved if it receives the grade of good or higher. After being informed of the grade of the teaching demonstration, the docentship committee will issue a statement on the applicant’s teaching qualifications to the Faculty Council.

In accordance with the instructions issued by the chancellor on 12 May 2020, applicants can use assessments of teaching skills carried out in other contexts, such as in an application process for a university lectureship, an assistant/associate professorship or a professorship, if these assessments demonstrate that the applicants have good teaching skills, as referred to in the Universities Act and the Regulations.

9. Report on clinical service
The decision of the Faculty Council on 25 November 1986 states that applicants for the title of docent in a clinical field must have completed at least two years of service in a senior position after completing a specialist degree in medicine or dentistry. Such service includes work in the position of clinical instructor, university lecturer, medical specialist, senior ward physician, head of department, associate chief physician, dental specialist, senior ward dentist or equivalent. The application must include a calculation demonstrating the completion of the required period of clinical service.

A clinical docentship in psychology requires not only a master’s degree, but also specialisation in clinical psychology in both research work and employment as a psychologist (e.g., in a psychiatric unit) as well as continuing education in the field (e.g., specialist training). A clinical docentship in logopedics requires not only a master’s degree, but also specialisation in clinical logopedics in both research work and employment as a speech therapist as well as continuing education in the field. Also accepted as service in a senior position in psychology and logopedics is a two-year period of employment as a psychologist, specialist in psychology/logopedics, university lecturer or equivalent.

10. Proposal by a relevant professor for the scientific field and assessors
Under section 52 of the Regulations of the University of Helsinki, a docentship must be appropriate for the operations of the faculty or discipline. The field of the docentship must not be too limited, and specifications made using a phrase such as ‘with a focus on’ must not be used in the titles of docents.

The scientific field of the docentship must usually follow the scientific fields of existing docentships and professorships, as listed on the Faculty website. If a new scientific field is proposed, its appropriateness must be clearly justified in connection with the assessor proposal. The Faculty Council must state the reasons to the chancellor if it supports the docentship application.

The field of the docentship must be specified in Finnish, Swedish and English.

At the University of Helsinki, a single person cannot hold two separate docentships. Changing the field of a docentship or merging two fields is possible, and the fields to be merged can be from one or more faculties. When merging fields of science, it must also be ensured that the applicant’s scientific qualifications are assessed in both fields included in the title of the prospective docentship.

The assessor proposal must be made by entering the assessors’ details on the application form.

At least one of the assessors must be from the field of the prospective docentship or a closely related field. As a rule, the assessors must represent different universities.

If an assessor from outside Finland assesses an applicant’s qualifications, the applicant must submit the requested application documents in English.

The general rule of the University of Helsinki for assessing applicants’ scientific qualifications is to obtain statements from two assessors. In accordance with the chancellor’s instructions of 12 May 2020, a special reason for considering such statements unnecessary under the University Regulations may be, for example, that the applicant is a person employed as a professor at a high-quality research university. In such cases, the Faculty Council must discuss and justify the applicant’s scientific qualifications.

11. Appeal
A decision of the Faculty Council on the proposal for granting the title of docent cannot be appealed against because it is not a decision on an administrative matter, as referred to in section 83a of the Universities Act.

Further information can be obtained from Minna Arekhau, dosenttiasiat-ltdk (at)

The Docentship Committee prepares matters pertaining to the qualification requirements of holders of the title of docent for the Faculty Council as well as examines docentship applications and proposals for assessors before the Faculty Council discussion. The Docentship Committee acts as the Teaching Skills Evaluation Committee and issues a statement on the teaching qualifications of prospective docents.

Docentship Committee Meetings in 2021

  • 2.2.2021  please submit your application by January 15, 2021
  • 6.4.2021  please submit your application by March 19, 2021
  • 1.6.2021  please submit your application by May 14, 2021
  • 7.9.2021  please submit your application by September 7, 2021
  • 30.11.2021  please submit your application by November 12, 2021

Chair, Professor Tero Kivelä, tero.kivela (at)
Secretary, HR Specialist Minna Arekhau, dosenttiasiat-ltdk (at)

Applications for the title of docent must be processed without delay.

If the docentship committee supports an application, it is delivered to the assessors upon the dean’s decision. The committee can also choose not to support an application. Information on this decision and its grounds is sent to the applicant. The committee simultaneously issues instructions for how the application should be supplemented. The applicant can request that the matter be presented even though the committee does not support the application, in which case a presenting official brings the matter before the Faculty Council for decision. If the applicant does not wish for the above, the matter will be cancelled until the applicant submits a supplemented application to the docentship committee for consideration.

After receiving the assessors’ statements and the statement on the applicant’s teaching skills as well as the justification for granting the title of docent in a new scientific field, if relevant, the Faculty Council proposes to the chancellor that the title of docent be granted.