In the Swedish academic system a PhD thesis is an actual printed book. Yes, a proper book-looking book. A kind of book you can shove in the hands of your family and say ‘here it is, the fruits of my labor, the sum of all my forsaken years, MY THESIS!’
The editions are small, usually between 100 and 200 copies, of which 30 go to specified libraries, kept safe in the hallways of science. One is nailed to an oak tree three weeks before the thesis defense, thereby symbolically presented to the public (and continuing a tradition dating back to Martin Luther’s nailed thesis to the church port of Wittenberg in 1517). Although it probably isn’t really necessary to print them on paper in this age of computers, it is a tradition worth honoring. More than anything it represents a closure of sorts, and a mark of something new.
I really like that feeling when the book gets back from the printers and the student finally sees the end of the wonderful but torturous path that is a PhD. The making of the book is sometimes also an act of procrastination, where the student can spend an inordinate time adjusting the colors on the cover, rather than finalizing that final chapter.
Below are the theses produced in our research group in Kalmar the last years. If you want to read them there are links to the online publications too.