The work on a dissertation is commonly carried out during a postgraduate study period.. It is performed either within an educational institution (such as a university) or a scientific research institution (such as an institute of the Academy of Sciences network). It may be also carried out without direct relation to Academia. In exceptional cases, the Kandidat degree may be awarded on the strength of the sum of published scientific works.
A necessary prerequisite is passing an examination called candidate minimum. In the Soviet Union, the candidate minimum included exams in the speciality field of the dissertant, in a foreign language of his/her choice and in Scientific Communism. In post-Soviet Russia and other post-Soviet states, the latter examination was replaced by the one in Philosophy, and in Russia recently in History of science; in Ukraine it is still Philosophy.
The dissertation is presented in accredited educational or scientific institutions before a Higher Attestation Commission or VAK. The USSR-wide organization was called the "Higher Attestation Commission under the USSR Council of Ministers"; every Soviet republic had its own VAK. The seeker of the degree must have an official "research supervisor". The presentation is literally called "defense of dissertation" in Russian. The dissertation must be delivered together with official references of several reviewers, called "opponents". In a procedure called the "defense of the dissertation" the dissertation is summarized before the Commission, followed by speeches by the opponents or the reading of their references.