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Doctoral thesis defence
The main task of the supervisor is to help doctoral students develop into independent researchers with a scientific approach.
The supervisor should continuously keep up-to-date with rules and guidelines concerning doctoral-level education, and:
- Ensure the doctoral student acquires the expertise specified in the study plan.
- Ensure that adequate resources for conducting the project are put at the doctoral student’s disposal at the department.
- Facilitate the doctoral student’s participation in relevant doctoral courses, symposiums and conferences in line with the individual study plan.
- Support, encourage and be available for discussions with the doctoral student to the extent specified in the study plan.
- Help broaden the doctoral student’s network of contacts at the department by encouraging them to present their project in seminar format both at the beginning of their project and at regular intervals thereafter.
- Ensure work on the thesis progresses at a reasonable pace, thus ensuring the work is completed within the stipulated period.
- Take responsibility for initiating, conducting and documenting an annual follow-up and mid-way review.
- Determine when work on the thesis has reached the stage at which it is ready to be defended (responsibility primarily rests with the supervisor in terms of assessing when the thesis fulfils the requirements placed on an academic thesis with respect to quality and scope).
- Propose – together with the head of department – an external reviewer and members of the examining committee and inform the doctoral student about the rules surrounding defence of the thesis.
The Research Training Committee must appoint at least two supervisors for each doctoral student, one of whom is principal supervisor with main responsibility for the programme, including the thesis, and one of whom is assistant supervisor. The principal supervisor should be a docent (associate professor) or have equivalent qualifications. One of the supervisors must be an employee or adjunct employee (employed for at least 20% of a full-time position) of Uppsala University.
To register as principal supervisor of a doctoral student at the Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, certain requirements must be met.
The intended principal supervisor must fulfil and be well acquainted with the rules concerning doctoral-level education in place at Uppsala University. Normally, a principal supervisor is already a docent (associate professor). In cases where the intended principal supervisor has not yet become a docent (associate professor), the planned supervisor constellation should have been formally approved in a separate and attached supporting document signed by the head of the Uppsala University department at which the doctoral student is to be registered.
An application for admission to doctoral studies will be reviewed by the Research Training Committee, and factors that will be considered as part of the overall assessment of the proposed supervisor constellation include the principal supervisor having:
- Well-documented post-doctoral scientific experience, production and independent line of research.
- Their own (external or internal) research funding that has already been obtained.
- Undergone the one-day supervisor information seminar given at the disciplinary domain.
As a rule, the assistant supervisor should have completed a doctorate, but on occasion a supervisor who has not done so may have specific expertise that is relevant and important for the project.
A doctoral student who so requests will be allowed to change supervisors.
Various situations may lead to a supervisor being changed. Similarly, an individual may wish to add a supervisor. Any changes to the set of supervisors entails a revision of the doctoral student’s individual study plan and should be processed by the Research Training Committee. There is a special form that should be completed when an individual wishes to notify any changes.
Each doctoral student is to have a specially appointed examiner. The examiner should participate in the annual follow-up of the individual study plan. In the case of doctoral students, the examiner should examine for-credit components of the doctoral programme when reporting to the study documentation system. The previous possibility for supervisors to examine for-credit components ceased on 1/7/2019.
The examiner should also provide support to the doctoral student in discussions surrounding the theoretical part of the programme and examination.
- Examiners should be at least docent (associate professor) or in some other way qualified to act as principal supervisor for doctoral education.
- Examiners should be employed at Uppsala University.
- Examiners should be working at the department at which the doctoral student is registered.
- Examiners and supervisors must be independent actors and have no relationship posing a conflict of interest.
- Examiners may chair the thesis defence, but may never sit on an examining committee.
An individual study plan is to be drawn up for each doctoral student. This plan should contain the undertakings made by the doctoral student and the higher education institution and a timetable for the doctoral student's study programme. The plan should be adopted after consultation with the doctoral student and his or her supervisors. The individual study plan should be reviewed regularly and amended by the higher education institution to the extent required after consultation with the doctoral student and his or her supervisors.
At Uppsala University, individual study plans should contain information regarding
- intended degree;
- timetable for the doctoral student’s programme;
- funding plan for the entire period of the programme;
- planned courses, teaching, basic training in teaching and learning and/or other departmental work;
- organisation of supervision; and
- special conditions applicable to the studies.
Since 2021-01-01 there is a new routine at admission regarding the individual study plan.
The individual study plan should be followed up annually and revised where necessary. The annual follow-up is conducted by the doctoral student and principal supervisor in consultation with other supervisors and examiners.
The report produced by the annual follow-up should detail how the work on the thesis and implementation of theoretical aspects of the programme are progressing in relation to the individual study plan.
If major changes are made to the plan, these should be reported to the Research Training Committee (KUF) on a special form. Such changes could include a change in supervisor, addition or removal of a supervisor, significant alterations to a research plan or significant changes to the thesis timetable. Decisions about a new study plan following a revision are taken by the Chair of the KUF.
PhD students’ activity must be reported every calendar half-year. As of 2022, activity must be reported based on the activity level in the timetable included as part of the research plan in the Individual Study Plan (ISP). Prior to 2022, the departments distributed an activity reporting form to the PhD students. This form should no longer be used.
The supervisor is responsible for ensuring that the ISP is up to date. The activity level is reported in Ladok every six months by the department administration, and is expressed as a percentage. Therefore, it is important that the ISP is updated with the current activity level.
The departments’ research training administration enters the activity level in Ladok based on the activity level indicated in the ISP. If there is a change in the PhD student’s activity level, the PhD student and the supervisor must submit a revised ISP with the new activity level.
The revision is done in the electronic ISP system. A timetable with information on the activity level must be included in the research plan that is part of the ISP. The planned activity level must be stated in per cent for each six-month period. The timetable can be drawn up in different ways depending on the procedures of each department, but it is important that the planned activity level is easily identifiable from the timetable as a percentage of working hours per six-month period.
Here's an example of what it might look like. Please note that the sum of the number of net months of PhD training in the plan should always be at least 48.
|Starting date: 1 February 2023|
|Year 1, first half of 2023||5 months||80%||4 net months|
|Year 1, second half of 2023||6 months||80%||4.8 net months|
|Year 2, first half of 2024||6 months||50%||3 net months|
|Year 5, first half of 2028||1 month||100%||1 net month|
|End date: 31 January 2028|
|48 net months|
To access the revision function, go to the start page of the electronic ISP, where you will find the PhD student’s ISP under the heading "Your issues".
There are three links next to the ISP:
Click on “Revise” to open the revision function. You can then upload a new research plan containing the current activity level percentage. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if “Revise” is missing.
For all PhD students who do not have a revised ISP with a clearly indicated activity level, the current activity level can be shown in the ISP under the headings “Time plan for entire graduate programme” and possibly “Planned employment for entire project”. Whenever an ISP is revised, a timetable with percentages as above should be included.