Workshop Supervision of dual PhD candidates, October 12 2018
More attention to the needs of PhD Candidates who are not employed at universities, but combine their research with a professional career outside the academic world. That was the main wish expressed at the workshop Supervision of dual PhD candidates, organized at the Wijnhaven building in The Hague by Nederlands Expertisecentrum voor de Promotieopleiding (NECPO) and Leiden University Dual PhD Centre on October 12.
Moderater Hans Sonneveld (NECPO) introduced the success stories and the difficulties experienced by external PhD Candidates. Pieter Slaman (Dual PhD Centre) described a large group of these candidates, who often work at a large distance from the academic world and are dealing with a lack of necessary contacts. To improve their situation, and their chance of success, Leiden University Dual PhD Centre offers a support programme which assists candidates in writing a feasible research proposal, training of academic skills and finding the right supervision. For more information, you can check the Centre's website.
Dual PhD candidates Anita van der Hulst and Jos de Jong shared their own experiences. A PhD project can be long and difficult. They emphasized the importance of taking the lead yourself and of finding your own style of working. Above all: don't forget to enjoy it. Anita, a journalist by trade, stated that a research cannot be conducted in spare time or dispersed moments throughout the week. It is necessary to take at least two days each week, to find your focus and concentration.
Inge van der Weijden (NECPO, Leiden University) analyzed the experience of a larger group of candidates, and showed the psychological strains and the enormous personal motivation that characterize this type of researchers.
In four separate workshops, different supervision and support programmes across the country were presented. Participants all agreed on the necessaty of improved supply of information, supervision, process evaluation and training.
Finally, employers of dual PhD candidates shared their vision on this matter. Caroline Hamm explained that the Dutch Ministry of Defence supports employees by granting them two days a week for research. It monitors the process, and deliberates with the candidate and the specific university if difficulties arise. Peter Edelman of consulancy firm Berenschot pointed out that dual PhD candidates can create valuable relations with the academic world, and broaden the firm's knowledge base. The municipality of Leiden just started a pilot project in which motivated employees are selected, supported by the Dual PhD Centre. Candidates who pass this selection, will be granted the time needed for their research.
The workshop gave valuable insight in the special needs of dual PhD Candidates, and in existing initiatives to improve their working conditions. Many questions remain: what is their actual rate of success? Do they produce a different, specific type of dissertations? How can we improve their conditions on a much larger scale? As always in the world of science, more research needs to be done.