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PhD student Olof's story

Olof points to his strong personal driving force which have led him, like all the other scientists at his University, into the post graduate program, and also he has formulated his research topic on his own.

When he talks about postgraduate conditions, he says:
– Previously, you could be accepted to post graduate studies without fundings so that each person was working on their PhD on a rather low percentage, they did this work on addition to their ordinary work. And for the research setting it was certainly positive because so many PhD students were gathered. There is a big difference now, with this funding requirement. But in other European countries, it is not at all like that, the students have the opportunity to get a scholarship or even employment, but it is not a requirement. The requirement is to be considered able to complete a theses. I think that is fairly sympathetic.

Olof can not see any direct benefits with the constraint that all students should be funded and he points to specific circumstances in the research environment in which he finds himself. There are just a few people doing research in each subject which leads to that there are no real seminar, that is, too few to discuss the work of each PhD student together with. Very many people want to go into the graduate program but may not because they are not funded. Currently there are no externally funded PhD students at Olofs institution, which contributed to the absence of a research group.

Another aspect of this small research environment is that it does not enable students to choose between supervisors, there is really only one person available. Olof's primary supervisor is not even an Associate Professor, something that worries him now as the thesis is almost completed. The reason for this is that the supervisor Olof originally was assigned to was not an expert in his field. Olaf says that the fact that he was 45 years old when he began his doctoral studies, also influences the choice of the topic and the supervisor. However, to start late is far from unusual at his institution.

– But you still feel like you have the support and the help you need?
– Yes, but the support - I do not know ... My supervisor is in an odd position. There is an uncertainty. He is partially employed outside the university and have other things but research to think about. So nothing much happens.
– What's your plan afterwards? Besides postdoc – are there other jobs to go for?
– No jobs are available, so you have to fix it on your own.

It is not only Olof who have a risky situation, so has his supervisor. The context is characterized by uncertainty. The supervisor is part-time employed outside the University and is busy fighting for its own existence. Olof also mentions a professor who were employed by the department, a person who were expected to create projects that could fund research. But the professor went to another university and after that the uncertainty is the hallmark.

Olof points to another problem. It is about the relationship between his principal and assistant supervisor: "... my supervisor seems to feel inferior to the assistant supervisor." Since none of the supervisors are an Associate Professor they have the same position in the university system.

Contact person for Advice for doctoral supervisors

Margareta Jernås
Phone: +46 (0)31-342 94 33
Send e-mail to Margareta

These web pages were created by Silwa Claesson and Gina Wisker.

Page Manager: Olof Siverbo|Last update: 6/13/2016

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