PhD project and plan

Do I need to have a full project plan ready when I apply for a PhD position?
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.

I’m not employed by UiS. When do I have to submit my project plan?
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. 

What does a project plan contain?
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

What happens if I don’t get my project plan approved by the doctoral committee at the faculty?
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. 

Will I lose my job if my project plan gets rejected for the second (or third) time?
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).

Who has the final say in the development/design phase of the project - me or my supervisor?
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.

What happens if I don’t finish my PhD on time?
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.