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Implementation of the PhD education

Get an overview and information of the various stages in the PhD programme. If the candidate, through the course of the programme, requires information that cannot be found in this guide, we recommend that they contact thesis supervisor, or alternatively their employer/the Head of Department or the faculty’s PhD coordinator.

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Coursework

The required coursework must consist of at least 30 credits (ECTS). Within the regulatory framework for required coursework, (PhD Regulations § 4-1) the faculty decides which subjects are to be included in the coursework component of each programme. The requirements for content and scope will vary from programme to programme.

Requirements regarding training in scientific theory and research design/ethics, as well as in methodology are common to all studies. The remaining credits represent thematic/elective courses at the PhD level. Faculties maintain a directory of approved PhD courses. An overview of the courses offered for the various studies, both compulsory and elective, are listed on the PhD studies’ website.

Courses completed at another institution can be also be approved as a part of required coursework. Such courses must be approved by the faculty’s doctoral committee/research school prior to their implementation.

Supervisor(s) should be involved in the selection of topics by suggesting topics and discussing what would be most useful and practical in terms of subject matter and approach.

Supervision

The PhD degree is supervised doctoral education. The candidate is therefore required to have regular contact with their supervisor(s) and must also participate in an active research community.

The PhD candidate normally has at least two supervisors, one of whom is appointed as the main supervisor. The main supervisor has the primary academic responsibility for the candidate. At least one of the supervisors must be employed at UiS.

All academic supervisors must hold a doctoral degree or an equivalent qualification in the relevant research field and be active researchers. At least one of the appointed supervisors must have successfully guided at least one candidate through a PhD, from start to public defence. If this requirement cannot be met, supervisors are required to undergo training as PhD supervisors during the first two years of supervision  (PhD Regulations § 3-2). Information about the research supervisor development programme at UiS can be found at www.uis.no/sqp.

In Part B of the ABC Agreement, it is stated that the supervisor shall:

  • advise on the formulation and refining of the subject and its challenges, as well as discuss and evaluate hypotheses and methods
  • discuss the programme and the implementation of the project description (outline, language, documentation, etc.)
  • discuss results and the interpretation thereof
  • keep abreast of the candidate’s progress and assess it in relation to the planned progress
  • assist in the candidate’s integration into a relevant academic community, including facilitating research stays abroad during the course of the PhD
  • provide guidance regarding academic dissemination
  • provide the candidate with guidance on issues of research ethics related to the thesis

The supervisor has the overall responsibility for ensuring the highest quality of academic work within the timeframe for the PhD programme. In addition, the supervisor must keep the candidate informed about matters of importance regarding the completion of the programme, and  help to facilitate an opportunity to conduct research abroad at an institution that can contribute academically to the PhD project.

Both the supervisor and the candidate shall separately submit an annual progress report on a stipulated form.

In the event of a supervisor’s long-term illness, the Head of Department and the Academic Head of the PhD programme are responsible for finding a temporary supervisor for the candidate.

Ethical guidelines for supervisors

Termination of supervision

During the course of a long mentoring relationship, it is natural to have productive and creative phases and also more challenging phases. If either a candidate or supervisor fails to fulfil their obligations, this shall be taken up with the other party. The parties will jointly seek to find a solution to the difficult situation. Upon mutual consent, the PhD candidate and supervisor may request the doctoral committee to appoint a new supervisor for the candidate. If, after discussion, the parties have not reached an agreement regarding a resolution of the dispute, the candidate and supervisor may jointly or separately request the appointment of a new supervisor. The supervisor cannot be relieved of their duties before a new supervisor is appointed. The head of department must approve the change in the supervisor relationship before a decision is made.

Conditions governing changes in supervision are described in Part B §7 of the ABC Agreement.

Publication

The results of a doctoral thesis must meet superior scientific standards and contribute to the development of new knowledge.

The high quality of a thesis should be irrespective of whether it is a monograph or a compendium of shorter manuscripts - a so-called article-based thesis. Certain subjects may be well served by the coherent treatment that only monographs allow for, but the monograph form may limit the possibilities for feedback from peers while the work is in progress. In certain disciplines it is common to submit monographs based on articles published during the course of the study. A thesis based on scientific articles offers a PhD candidate the benefit of independent peer review and editorial control. The articles will also force the work to move in stages, which may be positive for the overall progress of the project.

At an early stage in the process, it is important that the candidate and the supervisor take a stand on the form that is most suited to the research project.

If the thesis consists of several individual works, the question of whether the content of the thesis comprises a coherent whole must be documented and assessed. In such cases, the doctoral candidate must produce a separate section of the thesis (commonly referred to as “kappe”) that summarises and compares the research questions and conclusions presented in the individual works, thereby placing these in a holistic perspective and documenting the coherence of the thesis.

The articles must be of a high standard, meriting publication in peer-reviewed journals. Please contact your PhD coordinator to get an overview of content requirements for an article-based thesis.

If the thesis includes joint work, the PhD candidate must obtain declarations from the co-author(s), specifically granting consent for their works to be used as part of the PhD thesis. There is a stipulated form for declaring co-authorship, which must be submitted to the faculty, along with the candidate’s application for thesis evaluation (The form can be found on the UiS PhD website). Supervisors are also considered as co-authors and must therefore also complete the co-authorship declaration forms (as per co-authorship recommendations such as the Vancouver Recommendations, NENT and NESH guidelines for co-authorship etc.). The summary section of the thesis (kappe) must be authored solely by the PhD candidate.

The thesis should also be published electronically in the knowledge archive, UiS Brage, so that it is publicly available.

This is in line with the Norwegian government's recommendations for publicly funded research and the university’s Open Access policy. Contact the university library for more information about publication.

There can be no restrictions placed on a doctoral thesis being made publicly available, except in the event that a prior agreement has been reached concerning delayed public access at an agreed upon date (PhD Regulations § 7-11). Any delays must be stated in a separate agreement to be submitted with the application for admission to the PhD programme.

The thesis must be printed in the prescribed UiS template. It can be extremely time-consuming to transfer a finished manuscript to the template. Candidates are therefore recommended to use the UiS template from the start of the writing process. The template and its associated user manual can be obtained by contacting IT support. See also the guidance for printing the thesis, available on the intranet.

Study Abroad

Normally, PhD candidates spend at least three months of study at a reputed foreign educational or research institution (PhD regulations § 4-2), where it is possible to work on research questions in the doctoral thesis.

A stay at a corresponding Norwegian institution can substitute a research stay abroad if the stay is deemed to be relevant for the PhD project.

A research stay abroad primarily helps to establish and develop international research collaboration and gives new impetus for work on the thesis. It is therefore crucial that the research institution and the research community are carefully selected in collaboration with the supervisor. To increase the likelihood that the stay will be professionally useful and relevant, it should preferably be at an institution where the candidate, the supervisor, or the concerned academic department at UiS already has established cooperation relationships and contacts.

Even though a research stay abroad can be quite demanding, we strongly recommend it.  A stay abroad guarantees new perspectives. Academic benefits aside, there are also significant personal benefits in terms of networking, language, culture and social interaction. Many researchers support that study abroad gives excellent opportunities for uninterrupted research. A research stay abroad in an English-speaking country will also give increased language competency, which will in turn benefit thesis writing.

There are many ways to fund a research stay. Some of the most common ways are through the Norwegian Research Council grant schemes, funding from the research project, or funding from the employer.

UiS also has a scholarship scheme for study abroad, available for candidates who cannot obtain funding from other sources. The mobility scheme covers all PhD candidates who are admitted to UiS and the scholarships granted are in line with the Research Council of Norway's current tariff rates for overseas scholarships. The funds will be used to cover the initial set-up costs and additional expenses related to a research stay abroad. Read more about the mobility scheme in the Guidelines for the granting and use of Allocation and Use of UiS PhD Mobility Scholarships.

The Mobilty Portal on the UiS’ Intranet Forskningstøtte page gives you more advice and guidance on how to plan your research stay abroad.

 

Compulsory Duties

PhD candidates who are appointed to UiS will normally be employed for either three or four years. The Ministry of Education and Research’s Regulations on employment in academic positions states that a regular, fixed term of tenure for fellowship positions is four years, including 25 percent compulsory duties. The period of employment covers three years of pure research.

Compulsory duties are normally carried out at the department. The employer, in this case the Head of Department, is responsible for the research fellow’s entire period of study and advises them of the time to be allocated to teaching duties.

Compulsory duties must be planned collaboratively by the candidate, supervisor and employer, before completing Part A of the ABC Agreement. The work that comprises compulsory duties must be clearly defined. Such work should, if possible, be meritorious assignments, relevant to the PhD programme, such as teaching, conducting research projects, administration of projects, or participation in departmental/ institutional committees. Administrative duties should be limited to the greatest extent possible and should not exceed ten percent of the total annual working hours. The employer must ensure that the duties do not exceed the specified limit for compulsory work.

Research Ethics

Research ethics encompass ethical aspects such as integrity, competence and independence in one’s role as a researcher and one’s research conduct.

It is a priority for UiS that those enrolled in a PhD programme have a clear awareness of ethical standards and guidelines. The various research areas at UiS have their specific ethical challenges. Both the PhD candidates and their supervisors have a joint responsibility to ensure that candidates are familiar with current research ethics and relevant ethical guidelines in their respective fields, with particular emphasis on the ethics of citation and the rules for co-authorship (Vancouver Recommendations). In the admission agreement (part B), both the candidates and supervisors must sign that they are familiar with this responsibility.

The Norwegian National Research Ethics Committees has developed guidelines to help researchers and society to reflect on their ethical beliefs and attitudes, become conscious of norm conflicts, promote good judgement and the ability to make informed choices when facing conflicting considerations. More information about ethics at UiS is available on our website.

Progress Report

The PhD candidate and the supervisor report annually to the doctoral committee on the progress of the PhD project.

The PhD candidate and the supervisor submit separate annual reports on electronic forms that can be found on Studentweb (check with your faculty). The report must be based on the approved work plan for the PhD programme, and will state any deviations from the plan, including changes in funding, coursework, publication plans, study abroad, possible delays and other factors that might affect the progress of the project. The faculty's PhD coordinator sends out a reminder and link well before the reporting deadline, and ensures that the Head of Department gets access to those reports, indicating deviations, before they are discussed in the doctoral committee or followed up by the vice-dean for research.

The annual deadline for reporting is the 31st of January. The first report is to be submitted and approved three months after admission.

The committee will review the submitted reports and enquire about missing or inadequate reports. In those cases where the progress is too slow in relation to the approved work plan, and this is not due to a legitimate leave of absence from the programme, the doctoral committee, in cooperation with the Head of Department, will seek to identify measures to improve progress. The PhD candidate, the Head of Department and/or supervisor will actively participate in this process.

The candidate and the supervisor are equally responsible for submitting the reports. A lack of, or inadequate, progress reports from the candidate can result in involuntary termination of the candidate’s

participation in the doctoral programme, prior to expiry of the period of admission (PhD Regulations § 2-7). Supervisors who fail to comply with the reporting requirements may be relieved of their supervisory duties.

Like all employees at UiS, PhD candidates will also receive a formal appraisal. The Head of Department carries out the appraisal interviews for candidates employed at UiS. The progress report can be a natural basis for these conversations.

Mid-term evaluation/ 50 and 90%-seminar

A mid-term evaluation of doctoral thesis work will be conducted either in the third or fourth semester. The candidate will present their work for assessment by an evaluation team, consisting of at least two persons appointed by the faculty (PhD Regulations § 5-2).

Mid-term evaluation is of great significance to the candidate's work process. It opens up a possibility to discuss the PhD project with peers and offers candidates a chance to refine and develop all the elements of the research design and its internal consistency.

Mid-term evaluation is usually conducted in the form of a public seminar. The duration is usually about two hours, while this may vary across faculties. Composition of the evaluation team may also vary. At the Faculty of Arts and Education, it is compulsory to have at least one external member. It is important that the supervisor(s) and candidate make themselves familiar with the guidelines at their faculty.

If the evaluation team reports significant weaknesses in the research work, measures must be taken to rectify the situation.

90 % seminar and Final Seminar

At the Faculty of Social Sciences and Health Sciences a 90% seminar will be held towards the end of the PhD course, prior to the candidate submitting their thesis for evaluation. The 90% seminar is public; it is essentially a conversation between the candidate and a commentator, whose task it is to evaluate and provide critical and constructive feedback on the thesis. This gives the candidate an opportunity to refine work in the final phase and to prepare for the thesis defence.



The Final seminar is a compulsory element in the PhD programme at the Faculty of Arts and Education.

The seminar is designed for PhD candidates who are about to submit the thesis for evaluation. The seminar provides information in the procedures for submission, the defence and conferral of doctorates and other useful advice.

Skills development courses, support services and regular events

At UiS, there are academic and social activities and events for PhD candidates and supervisors, both at the institutional level and at the faculty and departmental level. Some events and schemes are of a temporary nature and advertised on our website as and when they happen.

Twice a year, the Research Department (FA) organises an all-day seminar for new PhD candidates. The goal of the seminar is to familiarise PhD candidates with the organisational structure of doctoral education at UiS, support services and candidates’ rights and duties in the PhD programme. Academic and administrative staff from the different faculties, as well as representatives of PhD candidates, will be on hand to answer questions from the new PhD candidates. Some faculties might have their own introductory seminar which complements this institutional seminar.

In addition to the technical courses, UiS offers training that assists in developing personal and professional skills that will benefit candidates in professional lives, whether that be in academia or elsewhere. The courses are under continuous development and cover areas such as communication skills, presentation techniques and personal management. Information about current courses is published both on UiS website and intranet. The courses are usually in English.

Once a year, the Research Department invites all PhD candidates and doctoral supervisors at the institution to an all-day seminar about challenges in PhD education. The seminar provides a good opportunity for networking within and across disciplines.

Once a year, UiS organizes a half-day seminar on research ethics. The seminar addresses current topics such as plagiarism, scientific fraud and misconduct and good scientific practice. The seminar is open to everyone.

Every year in October, UiS celebrates its transition from University College to University. The Annual Celebration (“Årsfesten”) is a ceremonious function presided over by academic dignitaries and renowned speakers. The Rector confers the degree of Philosophiae Doctor during this ceremony and the winner of the prestigious Lyse Research Prize, as well as the SR-Bank Innovation Prize, are also honoured during this ceremony.

On the University Library web pages you can find a lot of important information and useful links. You can search the databases for books and scientific journals, online encyclopaedias and dictionaries, public information, statistics, standards, etc. You will find information about academic writing, publishing, open science, literature surveillance, as well as key information regarding registration in Cristin and electronic publishing in the repository UiS Brage. The library helps to evaluate research publications so that you find the right journal for your article. Chosen journals need to be open access or support archiving in UiS Brage.

The library can also help and guidance on data management, archiving of research data, and development of a Data Management Plan.

To keep track of your references and create good bibliographies, the library offers the reference management software EndNote and Zotero. The library runs courses and gives guidance concerning both literature searches and the use of EndNote and Zotero, as well as regular courses on a number of other software, such as LaTeX, NVivo, or Tableau. Via these web pages you will find the link for the website, PhD on Track, which offers candidates useful advice for dealing with research challenges. See the overview of courses on the library website or contact the University Library for more information.

The University Library can also quickly procure articles and books through the International Library Network

Leave of absence and illness

Candidates must correctly report approved leaves of absence, spanning a certain duration, to extend both their funding and their period of research accordingly.

This information is also required for candidates to register the correct time of completion of their doctoral degree. Approved leaves of absence, longer absence due to illness, compulsory duties and part-time studies with prior approval are not taken into account when calculating the completion time that the university reports to the ministry. As an employee at UiS, you have access to physical and psychological help through occupational health services.



Studentombud

The Studentombud is an independent entity at UiS who assists and advices students and PhD candidates in matters related to their study situation. The Studentombud contributes to that these matters are solved at a level as low as possible. The Studentombud does not comment on technical/scientific matters. You find the Studenombut at Kitty Kjellands Building, 2nd floor. The email address is: studentombudet@uis.no.

Checklist for the PhD Candidate

If you need further information after reading this guide, contact your supervisor, Head of Department, the faculty's PhD coordinator or your employer.

  • Cooperate with the PhD supervisor to determine which courses should be included in the coursework component.
  • Carry these out at the earliest possible opportunity during the programme.
  • The entire coursework component must be approved by the doctoral committee.
  • If you wish to include courses from another institution in your coursework component, consult with your faculty’s doctoral committee whether this is possible for the course you intend to take.
  • The PhD Course Portal for Social Sciences can be found on the University of Oslo website.
  • The annual progress report must be handed in by the 31st of January, on the stipulated form.
  • Be realistic about the timeframe and budget for the project. Make room for the fact that experiments and analyses often have to be repeated   Publishing research often takes much longer than initially planned.
  • The supervisor will assist the candidate in conducting literature searches and finding books and review articles that provide an overview of current research and its important issues. They will, in most cases, have a good overview of the subject area and its key literature.
  • Having as much as possible of your work accepted in scientific journals will be an advantage that can raise the quality of your thesis, since you have already undergone thorough academic critique through peer review. The University library's services, and website will be useful for literature searches.
  • Work in a targeted way towards the thesis and other publications. Start writing as early as possible in the research process.
  • For experimental research, start writing as you plan, design and execute your experiments, and finish the work as soon as the research results are in place. Waiting too long will make it harder to work with the results and you will find yourself pressed for time towards the end of your fellowship.
  • Familiarise yourself with relevant research ethics and guidelines
  • Study abroad will often require extra work but is still highly recommended. Plan well in advance for a research period abroad.
  • The host institution and the research community must be chosen with care, and in cooperation with the supervisor.
  • If you wish to apply for a scholarship from external sources, you should be aware that many scholarship schemes have deadlines more than a year prior to departure.
  • The Research Council of Norway’s website has information about its mobility schemes and application deadlines. It is also possible to get directly in touch with the contact person for the programme you are interested in.
  • Your supervisor(s) can give you tips about possible scholarships.
  • There may be travel funding in certain research projects.
  • If you are unable to obtain funding from external parties, you may apply for three to six months’ funding through UiS’ own study abroad scholarship scheme.
  • There is the possibility of tax exemption on salary if you travel to countries such as the U.S.A.
  • Some useful information about practical aspects of study abroad can be found on the researcher mobility portal EURAXESS.
  • More information on mobility can be obtained by contacting the EURAXESS Mobility Centre at UiS (EMCU) at euraxess@uis.no or the Research Department (FA).
  • It is the candidate’s duty to account for the hours of work and to log all executed tasks.
  • The supervisor and the Head of Department must be duly informed about the scope of compulsory duties that are carried out.
  • If the scope of the tasks is beyond the agreed workload, there should be an agreement in place with the Head of Department, to either extend the period of funding or receive additional remuneration.

Checklist for Supervisors

  • The supervisor advises the candidate about proposed courses, both courses offered at UiS and externally. The doctoral committee must approve the courses that are part of the coursework component.
  • Begin planning a research stay abroad as early as possible and advise PhD candidates wisely regarding the selection of institution and research community, to ensure a positive contribution to the project in question and also the best possible research outcomes.
  • The annual progress report must be handed in by the 31st of January, on the stipulated form.
  • Make the candidate aware of current research ethics guidelines

Guide for PhD Education