Thesis Reviewer Guide

The thesis review is one of the most important parts for both the student and the defense committee for grading the work. If you have agreed to review one of our students’ thesises, then we are very thankful. Know that we have most likely asked you because of your expertise, passion and interest regarding the specific thesis topic. We hope that you enjoy the thesis and the discoveries the student has made in that topic are exciting for you. The student is also looking forward to the academic discussion with you during the defense.

The thesis you review is the version that is publicly available on the ICS Thesis Registry. The link to the corresponding thesis there should have been sent to you. The exception is a restricted thesis, in which case the thesis is sent to you privately.

To help you in everything related to the review, here is a short guide with the most important things brought out. If you have any organizational questions, feel free to contact the thesis supervisor or our institute’s study-related help at ati.study@ut.ee.

The Deadline

Your written review is to be sent to the student (add the supervisor as CC) and to the address ati.study@ut.ee. The official requirement is at least 24 hours before the defense, but we recommend sending it at least 48 hours before. The earlier, the better. This way the student has time to research your questions for the defense and recover from the shock.

Communicating with the Author

You should have the thesis author’s contact info sent to you by the thesis supervisor. At any point, you can ask (or the student can offer you) a demo of the created software, algorithm, learning materials or similar. Especially if it requires a very specific setup (eg a virtual reality headset, which you might not have) or has restricted access because of legal or business reasons.

The author’s contact is also there to ask for help if you have problems getting their software from the files accompanying the thesis to work on your own. Or if there are any other small usability issues, which restrict you in seeing their whole work.

The Official Guidelines

The thesis work in the Institute of Computer Science (ICS) is regulated by the official guidelines and regulations document:

This document can be helpful for you when creating the review.

The Review

When creating the review there should be at least 3 things in it:

  1. Your opinion of the work. What is good, what is bad. Here is a small guide in Estonian.
  2. The scores in 3 categories (content, complexity and appearance). The scores and categories are explained in the official thesis guidelines document chapter 5. These scores are important for the defense committee for grading the thesis. If you so want, you do not have to send these scores to the student or mention them during the public part of the defense. In that case you should make 2 copies of the review: one with the scores (for the institute and the supervisor) and one without (for the student). Usually, it is fine to just have one review that is with the scores.
    Note that while the official guide explains the integer score values, you can and should score with decimal places (eg, 3.5, 4.25 etc). Your scores are put into the grade formula and the committee adds to them their score of the presentation. Then the formula outputs the grade. You are free to change your scores during the defense and the closed session.
  3. About 2-3 questions that the student prepares answers for and that spark your academic discussion during the defense. There can be more questions, but if the academic discussion goes on for too long, the committee might ask you to stop.

The Language

We recommend writing the review in the same language that the thesis is in. During the defense it could happen that the verbal discussion will be in Estonian (even if the student’s presentation and final remarks are in English). This can happen in a situation when the committee, the student and you can all speak Estonian.

The Defense Dates

The defenses take place at the beginning of June. Usually during the first 2 weeks. The Master theses are defended before and the Bachelor theses later. The exact schedule will be made in May, sent to you and made publicly available on the ICS website.

You do not have to wait until the schedule is made and sent to you to start reviewing the thesis. It is already certain that the defense will happen at the beginning of June, so the review should be done by roughly then regardless of the specific date and time of the defense.

If you have certain dates at the beginning of June on which you cannot participate in the defense, then inform the institute (ati.study@ut.ee) and the supervisor of these right away. Then the institute can try to consider these dates when planning the schedule. However, as scheduling the defenses is complicated work, it may happen that accommodations cannot be made. In that case, usually, a member of the defense committee will read out your review in full and asks your questions from the student during the defense.

Online Defenses

During the Covid pandemic, the ICS defenses will be fully online via Zoom. Download the desktop app and make sure your video calls (webcam, microphone, internet connection) work well. The Zoom links will be sent to you together with the schedule or via some other means before the defenses.

You are asked to participate both during the student’s presentation, where you have an academic discussion with the student, as well as the closed session later in the day, where you help decide the final grade. If something comes up and you cannot participate in one or both activities, you need to let the thesis supervisor know.

Thanks again for agreeing to review the thesis. We are very grateful and sincerely hope you enjoy delving into the thesis.

Happy reviewing!