The right to award its own academic degrees has made it possible: for the University to achieve a high quality of research papers; and for the academic community to have great confidence in the scientific publications of applicants. Under the terms of St Petersburg University, an individual dissertation council is formed for each defence. Its members are top scholars in their field and include foreign experts. We have asked opponents to share their impressions of taking part in PhD Viva Voce.

Masayuki Hirukawa, PhD in Economics, Professor at Ryukoku University was an opponent at PhD Viva Voce of Anton Skrobotov for the degree of Candidate of Economics. The title of his thesis is ‘Robust testing for trending data in economics and finance: theoretical and empirical perspectives’.

What attracted you to be an opponent at PhD Viva Voce at St Petersburg University?

Artem Prokhorov, who is a faculty member of St Petersburg University and my coauthor, invited me. My area of expertise is time-series econometrics, and he thought that I could read and understand the thesis.

What can you tell us about the quality of the thesis that you had to review?

The quality of thesis was much better than I expected. It contained detailed technical analyses and extensive simulation studies. The reason why the author could write up the one with such a high quality was that he had a few publications at that time.

Could you please sum up your impressions of taking part in PhD Viva Voce? Are you satisfied with this experience?

All in all, I had a good experience. I participated via video conferencing and had no difficulty in communicating with other committee members.

What positive aspects in the procedure for thesis defences at the University can you mention?

Compared with my own experience in the U.S. (where I earned my PhD degree in economics), I felt that the whole process of the defense was strict. The reasons why I thought of the defence as more strict are that each committee member was expected to read the entire thesis and write a review on it in advance, and that s/he was should express his/her opinion equally during the defence.