PhD Survey 2014
In March 2014, a survey was sent out to all 263 PhD candidates at the Graduate School of Natural Sciences concerning administrative procedures, research, teaching, supervision and education. 103 PhD candidates (39%) responded. This summary highlights the most important findings.
At the start of a PhD track the candidate, together with his or her supervisor, should write a Teaching and Supervision Agreement ("opleidings- en begeleidings plan") and a research plan. An Assessment and Development Interview ("beoordelings- en ontwikkelings gesprek") should take place on a yearly basis.
- 74% of the candidates indicate they have a Training and Supervision Agreement (TSA). This means that 1 in 4 of the PhD candidates do not.
- 86% of the candidates had their first Assessment and Development Interview (A&D interview) before 18 months after starting their PhD track or thinks he or she will have one before that time.
- On average, the candidates are moderately positive about the administrative procedures (3.5 on a 5 point scale), although many of them pointed out in the open comments that they (and their supervisors) see it as somewhat of a burden. The research plan is seen by many as a document you have to write at the start of your PhD track and never look at again.
- The Graduate School is planning to move the administrative procedures into an online database that can be viewed by the PhD candidates and their supervisors. Most of the respondents see this as a positive development (4.2 out of 5).
Research, teaching and supervision
- On average respondents were moderately positive about how their research is progressing, the supervision they receive and their teaching load.
- The quality of supervision has a high variance: some supervisors appear to be too busy to give good supervision and timely feedback, especially during the beginning of the project.
- Nearly all PhD candidates spend 10% or more of their time on teaching tasks. Some complaints include the teaching load and a lack of training and organization.
- The most notable result of the survey is the dissatisfaction of PhD candidates at the Mathematical Institute with their teaching load (2.6 out of 5). The PhD council is looking into this matter by making a comparison of teaching loads between the institutes.
PhD candidates are expected to complete 20 ECTS of which 4 ECTS should be on general subjects (writing, presenting, research methods).
- Less than half of the respondents (48%) are aware of this formal requirement.
- PhD candidates do follow a wide variety of courses (mostly organized through the individual research schools) and are rated satisfactory.
- The Graduate School is looking into ways of formally administering which courses are followed by the candidates and how to evaluate their quality.