Tips and tricks
Supervision is a very important factor in the success of your PhD project. Here we provide some general tips on collaborating successfully with your supervisor(s). You can discuss these matters during your annual Assessment and Development Interview, but also on other moments. In the Netherlands, you can approach your (co-)supervisor directly, in case of problems.
Ask from the the start, for example:
- What is the expected output at the end of the project?
- What are your expectations for the coming weeks?
- How should you communicate about the project, and how often?
- Should you make appointments for consultation in advance, or can you just walk in if you have questions?
- How do you organise appointments? For example, it may be useful to send the supervisor an agenda for the meeting one week in advance, and to make your intended outcome of the meeting explicit. Also, making minutes of the meeting helps to keep the process structured.
- What is your budget for research expenses, courses, and conference visits?
- For which issues should you contact the supervisor, and for which issues the co-supervisor?
- How are the project tasks distributed between you and your (co-)supervisors? Who does what?
- Is it allowed to contact other research groups (and possibly) collaborate?
- What if there are too many supervisors? Or if a subfield is not covered? Please note that according to the rules, a maximum of four is allowed: two supervisors and two co-supervisors.
- Ask the supervisor(s) to confirm important decisions or agreements in writing (by e-mail).
Ask for continuous feedback, for example:
- What are your strong points?
- What are your points for improvement?
Let your supervisor(s) know what you need, for example:
- Do you meet too (in)frequently?
- On what subjects do you need more/less feedback?
- What is, and what is not, working for you?
Determine the agenda for the meetings with your supervisor(s) and the supervision yourself. Take responsibility for your own development process.
Conferences are great opportunities to gain new insights, receive feedback on your work, and broaden your research network. Discuss with your supervisor(s) whether you should submit an abstract and present your work (this is usually a requirement). Please note that conferences usually cost money; be sure to discuss this with your supervisor(s). Some conferences offer travel or other grants, for which you can apply.
It is highly recommended to visit another (international) research laboratory or to do a research internship. Here is why:
- to gain insights into benefits and drawbacks of different research environments;
- to provide opportunities for different feedback and ideas for your research;
- to broaden your research network.
Some organisations offer travel grants or scholarships to PhD candidates wishing to spend a number of months in another country. Contact the Research Support Office for information.
For official work travel abroad up to a certain maximum of days, UU employees can use Utrecht University's travel insurance. The policy covers some or all of the normal risks of claims that employees might make during business trips; work travel is often not insured in consumer packages.
(For UU employees only)
Intranet provides useful advice on various communication activities, for example:
You can find PhD-related items on intranet through “search” or by adding a tag widget labeled “PhD” (see https://intranet.uu.nl/en/intranet-faq-and-tips# > Tips & Tricks > you can quickly group all information (…))