Afronding

The completion of the thesis and the ceremony require the necessary preparations. Start in time and read the following tips.

Costs

The promotion costs a lot, but can also produce money. Some costs are tax-deductible. The total cost of your promotion depends on a number of factors, including the amount of dissertations, the number of pages in your thesis, the number of people you invite to the reception, party or dinner etc.

Below are some indicative amounts:

  • Dissertation: € 2.000 to € 3.500
  • Clothing: € 150 to € 450
  • Reception: € 350 to € 700
  • Dinner / buffet: € 20 to € 40 per person
  • Party: € 1.200 to € 4.500

The promotion also supplies several benefits. From the university you get a fee for dissertations they received through the ‘Pedel’. Often there is an additional fee because a number of theses should be sent to other universities, etc., the so-called ‘mandatory lists’. Furthermore you can try to obtain subsidies from certain foundations or industry, for example by notifying the companies name in your thesis or by sending them some copies of your thesis. First however inform at you own university whether these kind of alliances are allowed because at some university’s this is explicitly forbidden.

From this year on, the costs of the promotion are tax deductible as training costs. This is because the promotion leads to improvement of the financial position of the PhD candidate. The costs for the ceremony are also deductible, such as the rental of formal wear for yourself and ‘paranimfen’ (Source: Ministry of Finance, 10.02.2004, No CPP2003/2833M). The costs of the reception are no longer deductible starting in 2013. For more information see the website of the IRS.

Planning
Before the actual defense of your thesis, there is large number of things that must be arranged. Read here what you should arrange before your defense:

6 months to promotion

  • Read the doctoral regulations and other information related to graduating from your university
  • Fill out first form regarding the promotion (‘declaration of intent’)
  • Establish a commission for reading, evaluating the thesis and opposing, together with your supervisor
  • Gather information from different printers
  • Think about how you want to organize the promotion day, and request information for dinner and / or party

3-4 months to promotion

  • The thesis must be submitted to the reading committee
  • Make an appointment with the ‘Pedel’ and set a date, in consultation with your supervisors, co-supervisor and any foreign opponents (sometimes the date may only be established after approval of the reading committee)
  • After approval of the reading committee a form must be filled out (by the supervisor)
  • Make an appointment with the printer and discuss the layout and possibilities of your thesis
  • Request an ISBN-number for your thesis
  • Obtain funding for your dissertation
  • Around the thesis, including cover, title page (often the approval of the Registrar is required), summaries and acknowledgments
  • Finalize your thesis; cover, title pages, summary.
  • Who are your ‘paranimfen’?
  • Go look at locations for the party and make the final reservation
  • Arrange the reception (information can be gained at your university)

2-1 months to promotion

  • The thesis must go to the printer!
  • Create an address file for the dispatch of your thesis (supervisors, co, opponents, funding agencies, colleagues, contacts outside university, people working in the same field, friends, family, etc.) The ‘Pedel’ often takes a few theses for the professors of your faculty
  • Circulation of theses
  • Buy suitable clothing
  • Arrange a photographer, video recording, sound recording, etc.

The last weeks

  • Reconfirm the arrangements made for the reception, dinner, party and photographer and discuss the details
  • Prepare for your defense by; reading the regulations again (how should you address your opponents?); organize a ‘trial-defense’ with colleagues; read recent and classic articles; read the reviews on your articles; make a list for each chapter of your thesis with strong and weak points; think of possible questions for each chapter

Tips for PhD Candidates

Following a low-point in his own doctoral research, Herman Lelieveldt wrote a book about his experiences promotion, full of tips and warnings for new PhD candidates.

‘‘Promoveren, een wegwijzer voor de beginnend wetenschapper’ (Doctoral research, a guide for the starting scientist’) was published by Aksant Amsterdam (ISBN 90 5260 002 3).

Loopbaanbegeleiding

Since the amount of available PhD positions by far exceeds the amount of available post-doc positions in the academia, not every PhD candidate will be able to continue working as a scientist after finishing his or her thesis. Unfortunately this is not known by a significant percentage of both PhD candidates and their supervisors, leading to unrealistic expectations and potential disappointments.

Consequently it can be said that it is essential to also incorporate possibilities to obtain non-academic skills in PhD programs, improving career-perspectives for the PhD candidates and making the choice to do a PhD more attractive. While considering a PhD as well as while doing a PhD it is crucial that the PhD candidate takes his chances on a non-academic career in consideration. For example it can be beneficial to obtain cross-border experience when one aims for an academic career.

Next to aiming at an academic career one could also focus on a non-academic career. A PhD can certainly be of additional value when focusing on a career in finance, or governmental organization. The additional value of a PhD for these sectors can be significantly increased by doing a dual PhD, or by gathering external contacts by cooperating with interesting companies or organizations. Regarding the acquisition of non-academic skills during the PhD project it is important to realize that the obtained skills are as much as possible transferable to a setting outside of research. Improving communication, management and presentation skills are just a few examples of the many possible benefits of doing a PhD project.  Universities can also play a role in improving post-doctoral career perspectives, for example by offering career support or keeping overview of available post-doctoral positions.

Career support for PhD candidates affiliated to universities
In the CAO-NU (article 6.5) it has been determined that every employee that is appointed for at least 2 years has to have the opportunity to seek professional career support. This has to be paid by the university. The moment on which career support is seeked, has to allow the possibility of increasing individual career perspectives. This way universities seek to improve career perspectives of their PhD candidates.

Although the Opleidings en Begeleidsplan (OBP) already has to describe the PhD’s rights regarding education and supervision, article 6.9 of the CAO-NU on the other hand describes the right of a PhD to obtain relevant education. A PhD is obliged to participate necessary educational programs and the university is obliged to allow the PhD to participate educational programs that he or she thinks are relevant. Workshops or educational programs in non-academic (transferable) skills that increase the PhD’s career perspectives can also be seen as relevant. Internships can also be seen as relevant.

Career support for PhD candidates affiliated to UMC (academic medical centers)
Chapter 3 of the CAO-UMC describes career development, education and personal functioning of employees. When appointed as an “OIO” (onderzoeker in opleiding) the PhD candidate has the right to participate in educational programs necessary for the appointed position. Working hours and expenses have to be paid by the UMC. Furthermore, the PhD candidate has right on additional education for a different function in the future when this has been approved by your employer in an annual progress evaluation. Fifty percent of the expenses for this are paid by the employee, but possibly the employer can be persuaded to compensate all of the expenses.

In addition to salary every employee of an UMC receives a personal budget. Over the year 2008 the personal budget valued 0.25% of the annual salary. In 2009 this was 0.5% and in 2010 1%. In concept the personal budget is to be used for individual development purposes. For example this can be used for career support, although career support can also be obtained via the employer, who can refer you to any form of internal career support. PNN advises to seek for external career support.

Career support for PhD candidates affiliated to a research institution
The CAO OI describes the possibility of making an arrangement to use 10 leave days for career-purposes. Since 2007 it is obligatory to first have this approved by the employer during an annual progress evaluation. Since PhD candidates often do not use all of the available leave days, an arrangement can be made to transfer the 10 leave days in a budget to participate in career support programs. This budget has maximum of 950 euro’s in the first year, up to 1250 euro’s in the fourth year. You can also collect information regarding the possibilities by asking your local HR department.

Conclusion
It is important to realize that your career is your choice. PNN’s evident view is that the employer’s role in the PhD candidates’ career perspectives has to be an active one, but this doesn’t mean that the PhD can’t play an active him- or herself as well. Inform yourself well about the possibilities of a career after finishing your PhD, for example by asking your promoter, supervisor(s) and collegues. Also don’t forget to use the facilities that are offered by your employer. 8 out of 10 PhD candidates end up working outside of academia.

Buitenland

Some PhD projects can be executed abroad partially or even completely. Living and working abroad is often seen as added value to your CV, and it can ameliorate your scientific career chances. Doing research abroad has many advantages for you as a PhD candidate but also for science in general. For example, you can easily learn techniques that are not performed in the Netherlands and you will expand your network.

For science in general, the exchange of knowledge and techniques contributes to scientific development.

If you would like to perform your complete PhD project abroad you can contact a foreign organization directly or you can contact a Dutch bureau that contacts them for you.

If you would like to perform a part of your PhD project abroad you can also contact an organization directly, but you can also ask your supervisor if he/she can contact an organization abroad. Obviously, it’s also important to find finances for your stay and your research and to find a residence. Here you can find a page with many links concerning scientific research abroad.

Cursussen

The PhD contains a training part that has to be filled with following courses. Generally, this will be split into a set of courses about the field of your research, and more general courses focused on obtaining transferable skills (such as language courses, presentation and writing techniques, etc.). It is important to have a clear agreement with your promotor at the start of your PhD about which courses you will follow, and write this down in the training and supervision plan.
Many graduate schools offer the opportunity to follow courses. Sometimes these courses are not sufficient for the PhD candidate. In that case it may be interesting to look for graduate schools that do have such a specific course for the candidate. It may prove to be difficult to find graduate schools that offer courses. On the website of the KNAW you can find the acknowledged graduate schools in the Netherlands.

Of course you don’t have to limit yourself to the Netherlands while finding courses. On this and this website you will find links to many graduate and PhD programs all over the world. At these graduate schools, courses can often be taken by students from outside the graduate school.

Onderzoeksplan

There are several documents containing information about writing a research plan. For example, in “Elements of a proposal” by Professor Dr. Frank Pajares the various elements of a research project are pointed out. In addition, the Mansholt Graduate School of Social Sciences of Wageningen University and Research Centre (WUR) have prepared an excellent document which provides advice and guidance on preparing a research proposal for a PhD.

Usually, a research plan / proposal is necessary when you want to work in science after your promotion. The article “Writing a Research Plan” by Jim Austin, Editor of Science Careers, provides a nice glimpse into what you can do to have your plan approved by your project evaluators. Another article with tips on writing a research plan is “How to write a research proposal” and can be found here. Finally, the article “On the Art of Writing Proposals” of Adam Przeworski and Frank Salomon gives tips and tricks to write a successful research proposals in the social sciences.

The articles above all provide tips and tricks in their own way, to successfully write a research plan. It is important to choose the elements that are applicable to you. It is important that you ensure that a research plan is completed before you actually start conducting the research. Before you begin, carefully think about the steps to follow. The documents above can give you some direction. Just as important, if not more important, is that you discuss your research proposal with your supervisor (s) and other colleagues.

Good luck!

Wat nu?

When you have (almost) finished your PhD, it is important to ask yourself: “Do I want to continue in academia or do I want to work outside of the academic world?” To avoid unpleasant surprises it is wise to answer this question during your PhD project, to enhance your chances in (one of) the two worlds.

Career Prospects
Research has shown that 80% of the PhD candidates aspire a career in science after their promotion. However, for only 20% of all doctoral students an appointment at the university is a possibility, another 10% is in research-related positions outside the university. The remaining 70% will end in positions in business, or for the government.

The competition for an appointment at the university after the promotion is huge! Only a few PhD candidates directly get offered an appointment at the university. The most logical step is to apply for a post-doc position. This is a temporary position for 2-4 years, focused on a specific research topic. Besides applying for a post-doc feature it is possible to write a grant application, and thus create your own appointment. For beginning doctorates the most common grants are the Rubicon, to gain experience to another (foreign) institution, and the VENI, where you do a proposal for post-doctoral research. Also for grants, the competition is fierce. For more information check out the jobs and funding pages or visit the NWO Talent Day.

In addition to a career in science, a career outside science an option after the promotion. For example, you can think of policy positions in government and management and consulting positions in business. If you already know you want to continue in business during your promotion, it helps you to orientate during your PhD project, and where possible expand your network. Many companies in the Netherlands do not immediately see the added value of a doctoral degree, above a master’s degree. However, remember that PhD candidates generally have excellent analytical and organizational skills and have learned to present their research. You did successfully complete a complex project!

That most PhD students end up well, is illustrated by the fact that of the 60,000 doctorates in the Netherlands in the period 2007/2010, more than 80 percent have a job at a scientific level. There is also a higher employment rate among PhD’s, they’re more often working full-time than non-PhDs. For more information: CBS.

Read more about career opportunities and take a look at the job sites.

My contract expires, but my thesis is not finished yet!
At the time that your appointment expires, you’ll naturally want that your thesis is finished. Sometimes, however, this is not the case. Are you entitled to benefits? And can you continue working on your thesis? If your contract expires or if you get fired, you would be eligible for unemployment benefits or BW (above statutory unemployment benefit). However, in order for a payment to qualify, you are not allowed to continue to work on your dissertation while you are unemployed. You must be available for other work, registered with the employment service (CWI) and actively apply for jobs. If you continue working on your thesis, it is assumed that you do work and a reward is expected, regardless of whether the work is paid or not. You do not qualify under the criteria in order to receive a benefit. If after your discharge, you spent a portion of your time on unpaid work, you may qualify for partial unemployment benefits. You should be unemployed for at least five hours. You’ll need to register every month whether you have done paid or unpaid work performed and for how many hours. Writing your thesis is hereby included. If you do not specify working on your thesis, this is treated as fraud. The finishing of your dissertation during your period in the WW is not as obvious as many supervisors and counselors would have you think. For more information: UWV.

Tips voor promovendi

Take the initiative!

Take the initiative regarding your research but also regarding your supervision. You can solve many things. Try to find a golden mean if your supervisor and you don’t have the same goals regarding theories or methods. Suggest for example to compare these theories or methods. If your supervisor still decides to purely work on his own ideas, than just remember that he is the most experienced one of you two.

Perhaps you can spend some text of the discussion part of your theses to the advantages and disadvantages of both theories or methods. You might suggest trying some other methods in future research.

If you come in conflict with your supervisor, ask yourself the question whether you want to stay with your supervisor or if you want to look for a new one. Often, if a PhD candidate and a professor dispute concerning science, the Professor’s opinion is put before that of the PhD candidate. If you come in conflict with your daily supervisor you can ask your promotor if there’s someone else to supervise you. Also consider to ask for a third opinion, for example of a confidential counselor, a PhD coordinator etc.

Write, write, write

An important recommendation that has been given by PhD candidates of the research school of communication (NESCoR) is to start writing as soon as possible. Discussion can be stimulated by a draft and this will probably ameliorate the text. Writing articles increases your value on the scientific labor market. 

Make sure that you receive enough supervision/ support

If you don’t receive enough supervision, try to find more supervisors (a post-doc that is working in the same field for example). He/she can be your daily supervisor or co promotor. The advantage of a postdoc is that he/she knows the field and knows your position because he/she has also been a PhD candidate (recently).

Another option is to assembly a supervision committee. Try to find more people that are working on the same subject or have expertise on relevant domains. Ask your supervisor what he thinks of your idea and ask him whom he recommends. Send the members of the supervision committee a letter with the procedures of the committee. For example: at least one meeting per year is set up and draft articles need to be reviewed by all members. Note that the chance of disagreement between the members rises if the number of members increases. Also, the time of consultation increases.

Visit conferences

Try to present (a part of) your research at a scientific conference. The comments that you receive there might be fruitful and can be very stimulating.

Courses

Try to visit some relevant courses, for example at your research school, but also more general courses at other research schools, like project planning, scientific writing, ‘Writing English for Publications’ or teaching.

Local PhD candidates representative (PO)

Contact the local representatives, they can tell you what is happening in the field, and you can share your experiences with them.

Research school and Graduate Schools
Often, the PhD candidate is automatically enrolled in a research school or a graduate school at the start of the PhD trajectory. This can have many advantages. Research schools often offer courses and sometimes they possess funding for courses and conferences. In some cases, they also offer a bonus if the theses is defended in less than four years.

In the event that a PhD candidate is not enrolled automatically, it is recommended to enroll anyways. It is advised to ask your supervisors’ approval first.

Job evaluation conversation

Ask your supervisor for these job evaluation conversations. Try to discuss your expectations, your difficulties, your questions regarding your research and other fulfillments of the PhD trajectory. It is also recommended to prepare a schedule of your trajectory and to adapt it to the latest changes. Always keep copies of these schedules.

Agreements regarding authorships

Try to make agreements regarding the authorships even before you’ve started writing (see Fine & Kurdek, 1993). Often, the first author is the one that has written the draft version of the article and that has put the most effort in the article. If your data is used, you should be at least co-author. Fine & Kurdek (1993) indicate that the position of someone does not automatically justify a high position on a paper. Normally, the PhD candidate is first author if the article is based on the PhD research of the candidate. Also see the guidelines of the ethical committee of the American Psychological Association (1983).

Read the PhD regulations

Read these regulations as soon as possible. These regulations tell you which requirements you should meet before you’re allowed to start with the trajectory, which rules you have to follow and the procedure of the theses defense.

Correspondence

Keep a copy of the correspondence with your supervisor/promotor. Create for example a directory in your mailbox purely for this correspondence.

Vacatures

Zoeken naar een promotieplaats begint met het aanboren van het netwerk dat reeds tot je beschikking staat. Hoewel het PNN zich inzet dat promotieplaatsen ingevuld worden aan de hand van the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers van de Europese Commissie en dat alle posities volgens open, objectieve en openbare procedures ingevuld worden, blijkt de praktijk weerbarstig. Dat betekent dat veel promotieplaatsen worden gevuld via het netwerk van de hoogleraar. Laat dus aan zoveel mogelijk academici weten dat je graag wil promoveren.

Naast netwerken bestaan er de mogelijkheid op zoek te gaan naar een promotieplek buiten je netwerk. Dit kan via kranten, magazines (zoals van Nobiles) en internet.

Ten slotte zijn er natuurlijk verschillende websites die vacatures aanbieden voor promotietrajecten. Hieronder de meest bekende:

Wetenschappelijk (Nederland)
http://www.academictransfer.nl

http://www.euraxess.nl
http://www.pcdi.nl

Wetenschappelijk (Europa)
http://www.euraxess.eu
http://www.daad.de/deutschland/index.en.html
http://www.qreer.com

Wetenschappelijk (Mondiaal)
http://www.careeredu.eu
http://www.nature.com/naturejobs/index.html
http://sciencecareers.sciencemag.org
http://www.phdjobs.com

Algemeen (Nederland)
http://www.nobiles.nl

Ook de verschillende sites van de universiteiten en medisch centra hebben vacatures voor promotieplaatsen. Naast de verschillende universiteiten bestaan er vele onderzoeksscholen en graduate schools die op hun eigen websites vacatures plaatsen voor wetenschappelijk personeel.

Wanneer je op zoek wil naar promotieplaatsen buiten Nederland kun je ook kijken op http://www.gradschools.com. Op deze site vind je links naar velerlei graduate en PhD-programma’s in de hele wereld. Datzelfde geldt voor http://www.internationalgraduate.net.

OP Academic Transfer vind je een overzicht van de meest recente PhD posities. Ook kun je daar terecht voor veel Postdoc posities.

Onderzoeksscholen

A large number of the PhD programs in the Netherlands is part of a national graduate school. These, often inter-university, organizations offer domain-specific courses to PhD students, facilitating knowledge exchange and provide an external supervisor who can mediate in the case of problems during the PhD program. Moreover, these graduate schools are ideally suited to provide potential candidates with an overview of the options within the Dutch academic world, enabling young talent to choose a PhD topic and supervisor. PNN advocates in this charter for maintaining the important role for existing national graduate schools.

The graduate schools in the Netherlands have been reviewed by  the Accreditation Commission of Graduate Schools (ECOS) of the KNAW every six years since 1992. An overview of the national graduate schools in the Netherlands can be found on the website of ECOS.

All recognized graduate schools

Not all fields have a national umbrella organization. In this case, the organization of the PhD program lies in the hands of a local graduate school entirely. For these organizations, please refer to the websites of the universities.

As a starting point for a search for graduate schools abroad, take a look at the following websites:
www.gradschools.com
www.internationalgraduate.net