The group’s transparent support structure aims to ensure a high level of academic quality and the completion of PhD projects within the funding period. The support structure, which is based on the participating academics’ many years of experience in supervising young academics, consists of three pillars:
- Individual supervision of students by two academics involved in the research training group
- Supervision as part of a group of PhD students
- The use of supervisory services provided by the Graduate Academy
The individual supervision of the thesis is implemented jointly by two academics involved in the project. The postgraduate students select a primary and a secondary supervisor. In justified cases, colleagues from outside the research training group can take on the role of secondary supervisor. This joint supervision allows the interdisciplinary profile of the research training group to be better taken into account. Furthermore, it broadens the academic discussion while minimizing any personal dependencies. The PhD students discuss the project plan and its stages (conception, finding of material, writing) and define submission deadlines and milestones with their primary supervisors. The primary supervisor assures that deadlines are adhered to, reads the submitted texts and chapters and discusses these with the PhD student. The intensity of the supervision is increased during the second stage of the doctoral studies (5th and 6th semesters) to ensure that there is constant feedback about the progress of the work. The PhD students will participate in the doctoral colloquia of the primary and secondary supervisors to present their work results outside the research training group.
PhD students who are aiming for an academic career are supported by their supervisors with a formalised mentoring programme that aims to encourage academic independence and profile development for the PhD student. The following options are offered to the PhD students and will be regularly discussed: submission of a review or an article in a peer-reviewed medium; involvement in teaching; hosting a colloquium; discussing possible pathways to research. In addition, the Graduate Academy also supports PhD students, offering courses and counselling on career planning and development in various topic areas (‘Successful networking as an academic’, ‘Successful publishing’, ‘Postdoctoral studies – and then what?’, ‘Academia as a profession: Professorship as a career goal?’).
Group supervision is another important pillar of the supervision structure. By being included in a group of young academics at the same level of study, students are provided with a supportive and stimulating environment. For clearly, the social relations that develop between students are a crucial aspect of the doctoral programme. To productively leverage social dynamics, a ‘graduate forum’ has been developed. Furthermore, a research coordinator is available to the PhD students.