Milestones during the first year

 

Milestones during the first year of the PhD Programme

1. The PhD plan

The PhD plan is an overall plan for the PhD project and the other elements included in PhD programmes. The PhD plan must be approved by the PhD committee no later than three months after the PhD programme has begun, cf. Section 9 of the Ministerial Order on PhD programmes.

The purpose of the PhD plan is to ensure a rapid clarification of expectations for the PhD student and his/her principal supervisor about the project, supervision and the programme in general.

The PhD plan must be as precise as possible, but can be adjusted and clarified on an ongoing basis – in connection with the first and second year evaluations, for example. This means that plans for study periods at other research institutions, participation in courses and the form that the thesis will take, etc., that have not been decided after two months, can be added subsequently.

The approved PhD plan forms the basis for the ongoing evaluation of the progress of the PhD project and related studies.

It is quite possible to base the PhD plan on part or all of the project description that constituted part of the application for the PhD project.

The PhD plan must be signed by the principal supervisor, the PhD student and the Head of Department before submission to the PhD School and must be the PhD School Secretariat to hand no later than two months after the beginning of the PhD programme. The PhD School's special form must be used. The PhD plan must be approved by the PhD committee.

2. The PhD plan must contain the following

The PhD plan must contain:

  1. Information on the academic field, departmental connection and attachment to a research training programme, if applicable.
  2. A timetable for the PhD programme as a whole, which provides an account of the completion of the individual elements of the programme.
  3. An agreement on the form supervision will take. There must be information on the number of hours of supervision that can be expected per semester, on the division of roles between the principal supervisor and the co-supervisor and the extent to which they are available to the PhD student.
  4. A plan for the PhD project. A description of the research project, including information on research issues, theories and methods and a description of any subsidiary projects and milestones.
  5. A plan for the form the thesis will take (monograph or articles).
  6. A plan for PhD courses. The composition of PhD courses must be agreed in consultation with the principal supervisor. If possible, descriptions of planned courses must be enclosed.
  7. A plan for participating in active research environments – including stays at other, mainly foreign, research institiontion, private research enterpriceses, etc.
  8. A copyright agreement. If the PhD programme is performed in collaboration with several parties, the PhD plan must include an agreement on copyright and the rights to the data collected. Any limitations of copyright must be approved by the Dean on the recommendation of the Head of PhD School. The thesis will be published if there are no special circumstances to prevent this.
  9. A funding plan (budget). Funding for the PhD programme must be approved in connection with enrolment. It must be made clear whether the research training programme will be funded through internal or external means.
  10. An evaluation of the PhD plan by the principal supervisor and the PhD student's requirements in relation to the plan, including an evaluation of whether it is realistic to assume that the PhD student will be capable of realising the plan within the PhD period.

 

 

The PhD plan must be signed by the principal supervisor, the PhD student and the Head of Department before submission to the PhD School and must be the PhD School Secretariat to hand no later than two months after the beginning of the PhD programme. The PhD School's special form must be used. The PhD plan must be approved by the PhD committee.

 

3. At what time is my PhD plan to be handed in?

The PhD plan must be approved by the PhD committee no later than three months after enrolment. But in order to ensure that approval can be obtained in good time, the PhD plan must be the PhD School Secretariat to hand after two months at the latest.

4. First year evaluation

The first of the regular evaluations of the course of the PhD project is carried out after the first year of the PhD study programme. This constitutes the background for an evaluation of the progress made and the results achieved and provides an opportunity to adjust the plans for the remainder of the study period. The evaluation is based on a status report from the PhD student and his/her principal supervisor, a statement from the principal supervisor and two examiners' evaluation of material written by the PhD student, which will be presented at a seminar.

5. The first year evaluation must contain the following?

This report must include:

  • a description (approximately half to one page) of the research carried out during the PhD project to date (progress, results, any obstacles) and research plans for the remainder of the PhD period – including any adjustments made in the PhD plan.
  • information on completed and planned courses, communication activities, periods spent abroad, the fulfilment of the work requirement for employed PhD students and information on the form and extent of supervision.
  • information on examiners and a date for the PhD seminar.
  • any other information that may be of relevance to an evaluation of the programme.

The report must be written jointly by the PhD student and his/her principal supervisor on a special form.

6. At what time is my first year evaluation to be handed in?

The PhD student and his/her principal supervisor must write a status report no later than 12 months after submitting the PhD plan.

7. PhD seminar and examiners

The services of two examiners – one from the department (may not be the co-supervisor) and one from outside the University of Southern Denmark – are drawn on in connection with the first year evaluation in order to strengthen the basis for the evaluation and to provide a broad foundation for any adjustments in the PhD project.

The examiners are appointed by the Head of Department at the request and on the recommendation of the principal supervisor, possibly in collaboration with the co-supervisor. The examiners must be professors, full-time associate professors or hold similar academic qualifications in the relevant academic field. At least one of the examiners must be from outside the university, i.e. not employed at the University of Southern Denmark. The principal supervisor is responsible for having examiners appointed and for agreeing on a date for the seminar.

The examiners, supervisors and the PhD student agree on a date for the PhD seminar, which must normally be held within approximately 12-14 months of enrolment, but can be deferred to accommodate the examiners, for instance, or the PhD student's period abroad. However, the seminar must be held within 16 months of enrolment at the latest.

The department will ensure that a suitable room is reserved for the seminar, which will be announced on the department's website.

Evaluation is based on material written by the PhD student. For example, this material could be (the draft of) one or more articles or chapters that are expected to be included in the thesis when completed. It could also be material written as part of the PhD project (e.g. a detailed research plan, questionnaires, interview guides, data lists, outlines of theories, or similar). The material must be such that it enables the examiners to assess the research design and the preliminary results and be approximately 20-50 pages in length.

The principal supervisor is responsible for ensuring that the written material is forwarded to the examiners together with the PhD plan and the status report in good time before the seminar so that they can familiarise themselves with the material. The seminar is chaired by the principal supervisor. The PhD student must have the opportunity to present the material and discuss it with the examiners at the seminar. The PhD supervisor can take part in the discussion and the principal supervisor can also permit others to be present.

The examiners prepare an evaluation on the PhD programme to date and the plans for the PhD project on the basis of the material and the seminar. The evaluation could contain the examiners' suggestions and ideas for the further work and they can make a joint evaluation or two individual evaluations, which must be forwarded to the principal supervisor as soon as possible and no later than two weeks after the seminar. The PhD student must also be given a copy of the evaluation and is allowed two weeks to comment on it, after which the examiners' evaluation and the evaluation from the principal supervisor are forwarded to the PhD School Secretariat.

The principal supervisor forwards a statement on the course of the programme to date and any planned adjustments and changes in relation to the PhD plan, as well as an assessment of the probability that the student will be able to complete the programme in accordance with the PhD plan, together with the examiners' evaluation. The statement must either confirm that the PhD study programme will be performed in accordance with the PhD plan or provide an account of any adjustments that may be necessary. The PhD student must be given a copy of the statement and is allowed two weeks to comment on it.

The collected material – i.e. the status report, the supervisor's statement and the examiners' statement must be forwarded to the PhD School Secretariat. The principal supervisor is responsible for forwarding the material within the deadline.

8. Assessment of the evaluations

The Head of PhD School may decide to call in the PhD student and/or his/her principal supervisor for an interview in order to obtain more details in connection with the written material.

After each evaluation, the Head of PhD School decides whether the course of the programme has been satisfactory on the basis of the written material and any interviews. The PhD student and his/her principal supervisor will be informed of this decision in writing.

Enrolment will automatically be extended if the course of the PhD study programme has been approved.

If the course of the programme cannot be approved, clear reasons for this and an itemisation of the areas that have not been satisfactory must be given to enable the PhD student to consider how to tackle its shortcomings. In the event, the PhD student is allowed two weeks to come up with comments, after which he/she will receive an offer to re-establish the programme.

9. Changes in the PhD plan

In addition to the regular evaluations, the course of the PhD programme must also be evaluated if major changes are made in the PhD project or other elements of the PhD plan. Examples of major changes are significant changes in the research design, data or theory foundation. There may also be major changes in timetables, including delays in connection with subsidiary elements. Finally, there may be changes in the form of the thesis, changes in the location or duration of study periods abroad, or major changes in the course programme or communication activities.

In cases where such changes are made, the PhD student and his/her principal supervisor must jointly write a report describing the changes and the reasons for them. The report must be forwarded to the PhD School Secretariat. The principal supervisor is responsible for forwarding the report.

The principal supervisor forwards a statement on the course of the programme to date and of the planned changes in relation to the PhD plan, as well as an assessment of the probability that the PhD student will be able to complete the programme in accordance with the PhD plan, together with the report describing the changes. The statement must either confirm that the PhD study programme will be performed in accordance with the PhD plan or provide an account of any adjustments that may be necessary. The PhD student must be given a copy of the statement and is allowed two weeks to comment on it.

10. Rectification period

If the Head of PhD School concludes that the PhD student has failed to live up to the requirements in the PhD plan in spite of any adjustments that may have been made, the PhD student must be offered an opportunity to re-establish the PhD study programme within three months. The three months may not as such lead to an extension of the overall PhD programme. The chance to get back on course in connection with a regular assessment can only be given to the PhD student once during the PhD programme.

If the PhD student has not accepted the offer to re-establish the programme within a week of receiving an offer to this effect, enrolment will be terminated.

If the PhD student accepts the offer to rectify the programme, the Head of PhD School will appoint an assessment committee comprising two expert examiners and the principal supervisor. The assessment committee must set out concrete goals as to how the PhD student can re-establish his/her study programme within the three months and decide whether there is a need to change the PhD plan.

At the end of the three months, the assessment committee must perform a new assessment within a month to determine whether the PhD student has achieved the goals set out and can continue with his/her study programme.

If, after the three months, the assessment is positive, the Head of PhD School can approve it and the PhD student can continue his/her studies. The Head of PhD School will inform the PhD student and his/her principal supervisor about the decision in writing.

If, after the three months, the assessment is still negative, enrolment will be terminated. The Head of PhD School may decide to inform another place of employment, if any, of this. The Head of PhD School will inform the PhD student and his/her principal supervisor about the decision in writing. The PhD student can submit remarks to the Dean about the decision made by the Head of PhD School within a week. In this case, the final decision will be made by the Dean.

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