Supervision during the entire PhD track is provided by maximally 2 supervisors (promotores). Often, responsibilities of the supervisor(s) are delegated to one or more co-supervisors (copromotores). Supervisors are professors of Utrecht University or UMC Utrecht or associate professors endowed with the ius promovendi.
Supervisor responsibilities include, a.o:
- Adequate supervision of the PhD candidate;
- Complete registration of the PhD candidate with MyPhD (from January 2019) within three months after start of the PhD track;
- Appointment of a Supervisory Committee (see menu below) for each individual PhD candidate;
- Funding of the PhD track;
- Informing the PhD candidate on the expectations of all stake holders;
- Stimulation of creative research and a critical attitude with a pro-active approach;
- Informing the PhD candidate of relevant seminars, master classes, symposia, conferences and summer schools;
- Imparting scientific integrity;
- Organisation of the annual assessment interview;
- Organisation of the annual interview with the Supervisory Committee;
- Timely preparation and submission of the thesis to the reading committee and hence the finalisation of the PhD track;
- Advising the PhD candidate on personal development, career perspectives and stimulating course participation;
A Supervisory Committee (aio-begeleidingscommissie) is assigned to each PhD candidate at the beginning of the PhD track. The PhD candidate should have an active role in choosing who will be part of the committee by discussing this closely with the supervisor(s). The committee consists of 1-2 members, each of them being a researcher (staff member) in a field related to that of the PhD candidate, and not involved in the PhD candidate’s research project. The role of the Supervisory Committee is to provide independent advice to the (co-) supervisor(s) as well as the PhD candidate with respect to the progress (rate, direction, quality) of the PhD track.
The members of the Supervisory Committee do not have to be employed at UU or UMC Utrecht but may also be affiliated with another research institute (e.g. a KNAW institute, UMC, or university). The minimum contribution of the Supervisory Committee is to discuss your annual progress report (see below) with you and your supervisors. In general, the discussion must focus on your achievements, progress and, especially, planning of research and training, feasibility of the project, quality of meetings between you and your supervisors and quality of the infrastructure. Note, you may also discuss confidential matters with your committee at any time!
Questions that may be addressed by the Supervisory Committee include, but need not be limited to:
- Is it clear to the PhD candidate what is expected by the supervisor, and vice versa?
- What are the results of the previous year?
- Is the (sub)project realistic and feasible within the timeframe planned?
- Is there a clear plan established between you and your (co-) supervisor(s) with regards to research and training for the upcoming year?
- What are expected bottlenecks? How will they be managed?
- What results need to be obtained to finish the thesis?
- Are the research facilities adequate?
- Is the quality (length, frequency) of meetings between you and your (co-) supervisor adequate?
- Are you apt to continue the project?
- Which of your skills or knowledge areas require improvement?
- How will this be achieved?
Progress of the PhD track is monitored formally in annual assessment interviews with supervisor and co-supervisor in accordance with the regulations of the institute of affiliation. It is tempting to ‘just’ discuss the progress of the research project. However, the interview should also include the content and progression of the Training Programme and probably adjustment of training plans during the PhD track.
We strongly encourage PhD candidates to use this opportunity for reflection. Just once a year, PhD candidates should take a step back and evaluate not only the progress of their research project (will they finish in time?), but also their personal development and career opportunities after graduation. The GSLS has developed a self assessment form to assist PhD candidates in developing their competences in a structured fashion during the PhD track. This requires some discipline on the part of the PhD candidate but it will pay off.