After obtaining a master degree or a research master degree, students can apply for a PhD position in the Dutch system of higher education. The main task of a PhD student is to do research and write a dissertation. PhD students spend about 75% of their time on their PhD research project. The rest of time is for their education (about 15% of the time) and tasks in teaching (about 10% of the time). The PhD position usually takes 3 - 4 years and sometimes longer in case of a part-time appointment.
The Research Institute of Child Development and Education (RICDE) and the Graduate School of Child Development and Education (GSCDE) closely collaborate to train (research) master students and PhD students to become competent and self-reliant researchers who can substantially contribute to the research programmes, and subsequently make a successful career in research inside or outside academia.
PhD students are supervised by at least two experienced researchers, a full professor who acts as promotor and one daily supervisor often an assistant or associate professor who can also act as co-promotor. PhD students are embedded in the programme group where their research is conducted and fully participate in the research activities and lab meetings of the supervisors’ research lines.
All PhD candidates are asked to complete a report that contains information about their research project (description), a publication plan and table of content of their thesis, and an education programme form. This form is discussed during the annual performance interviews. If the information gives reason for concerns about the progress of the project, the research director contacts candidate and supervisors to resolve stagnation or problems. PhD candidates are also encouraged to contact the research director themselves, should they experience any problems or stagnation.
At the start of a PhD project, PhD students hand in a description of the project and planning (PhD monitoring form), and draw up a training plan, which specifies (a) the general skills the PhD student needs to further develop; (b) the national research school of which the PhD student will become a member; (c) courses, conferences or workshops that the student will attend; (d) the size of the PhD training programme (in EC). The education and supervision plan must be approved by the Graduate Studies Committee and the national research school.
In the first year of the PhD project, the first formal evaluation takes place after 9 months and before 12 months. At the same time the PhD student updates the the progress report (PhD monitoring form), and the promotor writes a letter about the continuation of the project, in which he or she addresses the following criteria: quality of the written work to date, independence, knowledge and skills, academic attitude, and English proficiency. The decision to continue or end the project will be taken within the first 12 months on the basis of these criteria.
In subsequent years PhD students and supervisors are required to have annual performance interviews and also fill out progress reports, which are discussed in meetings in which the PhD student and the supervisors are present. The content of the annual performance interviews is confidential and archived by Human Resources.
Around the time of the interview (to minimize administrative load) PhD students are approached by the secretary of RICDE to update the PhD monitoring form that reports on the progress and further planning of the project. The report is appraised by the director of RICDE and archived. If necessary the director can contact the PhD student and or the supervisor to discuss and solve possible problems with the project. The form is updated every year.
PhD candidates with academic perspectives are encouraged to build a network in academia. Because in academics, a BKO (Basis Kwalificatie Onderwijs - University Teaching Qualification) is compulsory for teaching in higher education (as lecturers), all PhD students are also encouraged to start building up a teaching portfolio already during their PhD project.
For students who will probably not stay in the university we encourage contacts with research or professional organizations within the Netherlands. They are invited to teach courses that are relevant for the career they envision (e.g. clinically-oriented courses).