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Article-based Thesis

An article-based thesis essentially consists of a set of scholarly articles that fulfill some conditions in which the doctoral candidate has participated very significantly.

The conditions to submit an article-based thesis are outlined in the specific regulations for the doctoral programme (document in Catalan language.) A summary of the regulations and criteria for acceptance by the Academic Commission are explained below.

Conditions of the papers

The procedure for article-based thesis is considered exceptional, since all thesis are expected to generate papers of high quality. Therefore, the papers that make up an article-based thesis need to fulfill special conditions:

  1. All papers presented as article-based thesis shall not be part of any other thesis. All other authors are required to sign a document stating that they renounce to use that paper as part of another thesis.
  2. All papers must be the consequence of work developed during the doctoral thesis. Prior works will not be accepted.
  3. The papers must be published or accepted at the time of application of an article-based thesis.
  4. The doctorand must be the first author of the papers, or second author.
  5. The papers must fulfill at least one of these two conditions:
    1. 3 JCR Q1 or Q2 journal papers
    2. 2 JCR Q1 or Q2 journal papers, plus 2 other publications: conferences considered as relevant by UPC, or book chapters.
Please note that the criteria used by the Academic Commission is to strongly favor first-author publications. Second-author publications, while they may be accepted, must be very well justified for inclusion in an article-based thesis.

Format of the thesis

Even though the basis of the thesis is the publications, it is compulsory to write a document fulfilling special conditions. According to the current regulations, these conditions are:

  1. Cover including title, author, advisor(s), and visibly, "Article-Based Thesis".
  2. Abstract in English and Catalan.
  3. Index.
  4. Thorough introduction discussing state of the art and justification that the presented papers are thematically coherent with the objectives of the thesis and research plan. The length of this chapter is currently set to 50 pages.
  5. Chapter dicussing the obtained results.
  6. Copy of the postprint version (copyright free) of all the papers. If the paper is accepted but not yet published, the copy of the accepted version.
  7. Optionally, other papers may be included as an appendix.


BEFORE STARTING THE PROCEDURE FOR SUBMITTING THE THESIS, the doctoral candidate must submit a reasoned application the entry of which will be registered to the academic committee of the doctoral programme, and provide the information and documents listed in the application. The application must contain:

  1. List of the papers, indicating full title, authorship and publication, indicating in the case of journals the JCR position, impact factor and number of citations in case of a published paper.
  2. Authorization of the thesis advisor(s) to present the thesis as article-based.
  3. Justification for each of the papers of the individual contribution by the doctorand.
  4. Written and signed authorization for all the papers of any other author, stating that they renounce to present that paper as part of another thesis.

Please note that for papers as a second author, point number 3 must explicitly explain why the doctorand appears as a second author, based on the individual contribution to the paper.

The criteria of the Academic Commission is to accept papers that adequately cover the thesis objectives according to the Research Plan. This point must be emphasized in the justification.


The resolution of the academic committee of the programme will be communicated to the doctoral candidate before the deadline given in the programme's specific regulations (normally, within 5 working days). It may be a ruling on the entire thesis (all of the publications submitted) or a partial ruling.

Examination committee

The co-authors of the articles may not form part of the examination committee for the thesis.

Thesis submission

An article-based thesis must be submitted in accordance with the standard procedure outlined in the Academic Regulations for Doctoral Studies.


I have several papers published during my PhD. Is that enough to apply for an article-based thesis?

No. All doctoral theses are expected to generate high-quality publications. An article-based thesis must be justified based on the quality of the papers, but also on the fact that they cover adequately the objectives of the thesis stated in the updated Research Plan.


I don't have the time/skill to write a conventional thesis. Is that a reason to apply for an article-based thesis?

No. The writing of a scientific document as the PhD thesis is part of the PhD training and should be allocated enough time and resources. Note that an article-based thesis also implies a significant writing effort in terms of synthesis of the papers and discussion of results in a coherent and homogeneous way, in accordance with the Research Plan objectives.


If I present a paper as part of an article-based thesis, does that mean that the results of that paper cannot be used in another thesis?

While other authors of the paper will not be able to present the paper as another article-based thesis, they can reference and include in their own (conventional) thesis the results of the paper to which they contributed.


Do I need to ask the publisher for permission to include a paper in an article-based thesis?

As a general rule, in any document, not only article-based thesis, you should check that the material is copyright-free. In the case of article-based thesis, you should check the copyright conditions of the publisher and ask for permission if necessary. In many cases, you will be allowed to publish a post-print version of the accepted paper.