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Frequently Asked Questions - PhD studies

We have collected a range of frequently asked questions related to different aspects in PhD education at the University of Stavanger.For more comprehensive information, please visit the Guide for PhD education at UiS.

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PhD training / PhD candidates at UiS

No, UiS does not accept PhD candidates that are self-funded or don’t have any funding at all.

PhD candidates employed as a research fellow at UiS will be automatically admitted to one of the PhD programmes at UiS, and no separate application is needed. This admission is given on condition that the PhD candidate, within three months after employment started, submitts a project plan and gets it approved the faculty's doctoral committee. PhD candidates not funded/employed by UiS must apply for admission to a relevant programme. Click here for more information.

UiS offers PhD training within 11 areas, each of which spans a broad range of disciplines: 1. Petroleum Technology, 2. Offshore Technology, 3. Information Technology, Mathematics and Physics, 4. Chemistry and Biological Science, 5. Risk Management and Societal Safety (Technical approach). 6. Health and Medicine 7. Management, Economics and Tourism, 8. Risk Management and Societal Safety (sociological approach), 9. Sociology, Social Work, and Culture and Society, 10. Educational Sciences, 11. Literacy.

The industrial PhD and the public sector PhD are two different schemes for funding PhD training, administered by the Norwegian Research Council (NFR). They do not represent a new type of PhD. The candidate follows the ordinary PhD training at the institution that awards the PhD degree. The difference is that, during his or her period of training, the candidate is not employed by the university, but by a public body (e.g. municipality) or a company which must have a special need for research into the given topic.

The PhD candidates’ rights and duties are stipulated in different laws, rules and regulations on both institutional and national level, first of all the PhD regulations at UiS. The Norwegian Association of Researchers (Forskerforbundet) has issued a useful handbook on this topic. Another crucial document is the “Agreement on Admission to the PhD programme” which has to be signed before the PhD candidate starts his or her training.  

If you are experiencing these problems, you should first try to discuss it with someone you know and trust, and see if it is possible to do something with your work situation that can decrease the stressors. If this does not help, you should contact the Occupational Health Service at UiS. Click here for relevant contact persons and more information.

The Occupational Health Service can provide help concerning many different health related problems. If you experience work related physical pains, contact the Occupational Health Service for both an inspection of your physical work environment, and they can provide health specialists depending on your physical health problems. Click here for relevant contact persons and more information.

UiS offers Norwegian language courses for beginners at a reduced rate to new international students.

Applicants are expected to have a good command of English, both orally and written. However, UiS does not formally require any specific English tests (e.g. TOEFL, IELTS).

PhD project and plan

This depends on what is requested in the job advertisement. Usually, a PhD fellow position is rooted in a certain (sub-)discipline or thematic area within which the PhD project must be rooted. It then falls to the applicant to develop a specific project that complies with the overall requirements. In this case, applicants are normally asked to submit a project outline (normally 3-5 pages) that will be later extended to a full project plan. Some faculties provide an outline template.      

In some cases, e.g. at the Faculty of Science and Technology, PhD projects are already pre-defined when a PhD fellow position is advertised. In this case, you do not need a project outline when applying for a position. You just submit the documents specified in the advertisement (e.g. diploma, certificates, publication list).

In either cases, a full project description will be due three months after your employment commenced.

External PhD candidates, i.e. candidates not employed by UiS, apply for enrollment in a PhD programme at UiS. Together with the application, a full project plan must be submitted (application form). UiS does only accept applicants who are funded by other institutions, foundations or bodies, not self-funded. 

A project plan is more than just a scientific description of your project. Normally, a project plan includes: 1. a scientific description of the project (thematic area, research questions, theory and methodology). 2. Main and co-supervisor, 3. Plan for the compulsory coursework (30 ECTS), 4. Progress and publication plan, 5. Plan for a research stay abroad, 6. Plan for dissemination activities, 6.  External candidates are also required to submit a funding plan.

In addition, you might need documentation of possible special needs for academic and material resources, information about any restrictions on intellectual property rights that are intended to protect the rights of others, and an account of any legal and/or ethical issues raised by the project. It should be stated whether the project must notify or is dependent on permission granted by the Data Protection Ombudsman or the Regional Committee for Medical Research Ethics (REK). Any such permission should be obtained in written form and attached to the application

If the final plan for the research project is not approved, the doctoral committee will normally explain deficiencies in the present plan and set a new deadline for sending in an improved version of it. 

Yes. An approved project plan is a requirement to obtain full admission to the PhD programme, and full admission, in turn, is a basic condition for the employment in a PhD fellow position (cf. Regulations concerning terms and conditions of employment for the posts of postdoktor (post-doctoral research fellow), stipendiat (research fellow), vitenskapelig assistent (research assistant) and spesialistkandidat (resident), § 1-3, 8).

If you and your supervisor do not agree, you will have to present and describe your disagreement to the academic community – normally the doctoral committee at your faculty. Formally, this committee has the final say.

In Norway, PhD education is standardized to three years of full research training. In some cases, PhD candidates are employed on a four-year contract which includes 25% (one year) of teaching or other duties. If you don’t finish on time, i.e. by the end of your period of funding, you will still be able to submit your thesis at a later date, and you will also keep your programme enrollment until you pass the sixth year. However, you will lose the right to get academic supervision as well as other rights related to your employment status (e.g. salary and personal budget). From experience, candidates that do not finish within their funding period and subsequently get another employment find it very difficult to keep on working on their thesis – causing a disproportionately long period of time until they finally, if at all, submit their dissertation.

Academic supervision

This depends to a large extent on the nature of your PhD project. If you work on a pre-defined project, a main supervisor has already been selected, most likely one of the researchers in charge of the larger project which your PhD project is part of. In the case of more independently developed projects, the dean of the faculty or head of department will suggest a supervisor with expertise on the respective research field. The supervisor is formally appointed by the faculty’s Doctoral Committee.

First of all, both parties should try to make the relation work and, where necessary, attempt to remedy problems that have originated (cf. Agreement on Admission to the PhD programme part B). One possible way is to consult with your second supervisor or your boss (head of department). You can also ask your PhD coordinator for advice. The faculty/department will assist you in this process, if necessary. As humans are different, there are also many different ways to handle such situations. If the problems can’t be solved, you have the right to ask for a new supervisor. This is nothing utterly exceptional, in some cases two humans simply turn out to not be able to work together.

Useful advice on how to manage this sometimes tricky relationship can be found here. See in this context also the university's Ethical Guidelines for Supervisors/Employees. 

Both you and your supervisor can ask the institution to appoint a new supervisor for the project (cf. PhD regulations at UiS § 7.1). This process will hopefully not take too long. The supervisor you have cannot withdraw before a new supervisor has been appointed.

According to § 7-1 of the PhD regulations at UiS, a PhD candidate is expected to have two supervisors (one main and one co-supervisor), and we strongly recommend you to follow this stipulation. A third person can be of huge benefit when discussing the PhD project and its quality as well as to get feedback and another expert opinion.

Generally, both your supervisors are expected to advice on formulating and delimiting the thematic focus and research questions of the PhD project, as well as to discuss and assess hypotheses and methodology, the results and interpretation of these, the structure and implementation of the thesis, including the outline, choice of language, documentation, etc., and provide guidance on the academic literature and data available in libraries, archives, etc. The supervisors must also advise the candidate on issues of research ethics related to the thesis.

A co-supervisor is usually appointed to ensure competence in one or some of the aspects relevant to the project that the main supervisor do not know thoroughly enough. He/she is therefore supposed to contribute especially in these respects. Usually, the co-supervisor contributes with 1/3 of the main-supervisor’s time allocated to supervision.

A supervisor is expected to assist you in the process of getting familiar with the relevant research environments; including facilitating a stay abroad during the doctoral training period. This obviously also means to include you when meeting relevant people if you are available.

Thesis writing / article publication

The exact number of articles required in the dissertation varies across faculties and departments. It also depends on the status of the article and your role, i.e. whether the article is submitted, accepted or published by a journal as well as if you have written it as a first or a sole author. The Faculty of Social Sciences requires 3 articles as first author, 2 of which have to be submitted for publication and 1 accepted or published. The Faculty of Arts and Education expects you to have 3-5 publishable articles.

All together, they must represent a consistent entity. Their interrelation and coherence must be demonstrated in the synopsis of the thesis (“kappe”).

The "kappe" is an academic text of which the PhD candidate is the sole author. Together with the scientific articles, it forms the PhD thesis. In the "kappe", the candidate is expected to demonstrate the articles' contribution to answering the question(s) that the thesis as a whole intends to address. Thus, the "kappe" should collocate, deepen, explain and supplement the articles rather than to summarize them.   

In the Guidelines for Evaluation of Candidates for Norwegian Doctoral Degree it is stated: "If the thesis consists of several interrelated minor works, the evaluation committee must assess whether the content of the individual works forms a whole. In such cases, the candidate must document the integrated nature of the work in a separate section by not only summarising but also comparing the research questions and conclusions presented in the separate works. This part of the thesis is of vital importance both for the doctoral candidate and for the committee's evaluation of the work submitted."

There are clear rules applying for who can be listed as co-author, with a slight variation across disciplines. Generally, only those who have actually contributed to the documentation, and analysis and writing of a scientific work may be credited as co-authors. More detailed information can be found on the website of the Norwegian National Research Ethics Committees.

Making a correct pdf file can sometimes be very time consuming. We therefore strongly advise you to use the electronic template available by the IT department from the very beginning. When your thesis is ready for submission, you must contact the PhD coordinator at your faculty to get contact information to the UiS printing office (Attende). They print all the theses accepted at UiS and will guide you through the whole process. The timeframe depends on their workload, but normally it does take 2-3 work days.

Yes! Depending on your faculty affiliation, contact one of the following: Elin Nyberg (Arts & Education), Leiv Gunnar Lie (Science & Technology), Karen Anne Okstad (Social Sciences/Health/Business). Each faculty has also a local communication adviser. Feel free to ask them too.

Research stay abroad / mobility

There is a range of schemes granting you financial support in connection with a research stay abroad. The most common one is the “UiS Mobility Scholarship” which gives financial support for a three-month stay (kr 18 000 per month in 2019). Note that these grants are meant to cover additional costs related to your research stay abroad and must only be used for this purpose. They come in addition to your ordinary salary. There are also certain requirements applicants must fullfill.

Generally, you are free to take your family with you when travelling abroad. As far as the financial support is concerned, some schemes, such as NFR Utenlandsstipend, grant a higher rate for researchers travelling with family (kr 33 000 per month in 2019). If you apply for UiS Mobility Scholarship, some faculties might grant you a higher rate in accordance with NFR’s rate. Check with your faculty before you apply.

There are several people than can assist you depending on what you need. For possible funding options contact the Research Department (FA), for practical matters contact euraxess@uis.no, with respect to questions related to taxes and settlement of grants contact lena.holmebakken@uis.no or alf.strand@uis.no. However, please bear in mind that it is your responsibility to resolve are practical matters, such as visa, informing the authorities, finding accommodation abroad etc. (your host institution might be able to help you).