PhD Track Support

A standardized monitoring and evaluation procedure will strengthen the AMC PhD program. About the procedure for midterm monitoring the progress of AMC PhD projects:"PhD Track Support". This procedure was formerly known as Peer Support

To improve the quality of the research and the supervision of our PhD candidates, PhD Track Support provides external input. The aim of this support is to avoid, minimize and recognize potential threats to the progress and quality of PhD projects at an early stage. In the PhD Track Support the supervisor invites a PhD Track Advisor halfway the PhD project. This PhD Track Advisor is a PI or senior researcher, preferably from another department or research group (or from another research institute or university) and is not directly involved in the PhD project.

The interaction between PhD candidates and their supervisors is hierarchical and vulnerable, therefore transparent and independent feedback by the PhD Track Advisor is highly valued. Good mentorship, integrity, and independence in science need to be emphasized and enhanced by the monitoring procedure.

The AMC Graduate School sends an e-mail to the PhD candidate and supervisor(s), approximately 1.5 years after the start of the PhD project, as signal to start PhD Track Support. The AMC Graduate School does not appoint a PhD Track Advisor and is not involved in setting up arrangements.

Download Progress Report and PhD Track Support form:

Instructions

Distinct ways exist to perform PhD Track Support. Below we describe clear instructions for PhD candidates, supervisors and PhD Track Advisors on how the PhD Track Support may take place.

How to perform PhD Track Support:

    Download the instructions:

    Best practice: Embedding PhD Track Support within departmental research meetings

    This best practice describes an example of how the PhD Track Support may be embedded within the departmental research meetings.

    After one year the PhD candidate writes a short report (1 A4) on the progress of the project. This is sent to one or two research (staff) members of the department that are not involved in the project. They give written feedback.

    During the second year of the PhD track, in conjunction with a scheduled work discussion presentation, the PhD candidate prepares a written Progress Report, as outlined by the AMC Graduate School, and plans for the remainder of their PhD track. A copy of the report, approved by the responsible primary investigator (promotor or co-promotor), will be delivered to all research staff members of the department prior to the PhD Track Support meeting. The PhD Track Support meeting will take approximately 30 minutes as the second half of the regularly scheduled work discussion. Please note that for the work discussion, the PhD candidate will give a standard presentation thus NOT a general overview of the entire thesis.

    PhD candidate, supervisor(s) and attending research staff members aim to identify potential threats to successful completion of the thesis, and use of the varied expertise and networks of research staff members to identify additional opportunities that will increase the quality of chapters and publications generated during the thesis research.  The PhD candidate will use the given feedback to fill in the PhD Track form.  One staff member will be appointed as the PhD Track Advisor and has a short confidential discussion with the PhD candidate after the research meeting.  This PhD Track Advisor will answer the questions on the PhD Track form and signs the PhD Track form. The PhD candidate also signs the PhD Track form. Following, the PhD candidate will send both the Progress Report and the PhD Track form to the AMC Graduate School.

    After three years the PhD candidate writes a short report (about 1-2 A4) to evaluate what has been done with the feedback provided during the PhD Track Support meeting and an update on the progress of the project. This is sent to one or two research staff members of the department that are not involved in the project. They give written feedback.

    Additionally, every PhD candidate is appointed a mentor that may be approached throughout the PhD trajectory to discuss (confidential) issues.

      Frequently Asked Questions

      Is PhD Track Support the same as Peer Support?

      Yes, until June 2018, PhD Track Support was known as Peer Support. However, please note that the forms that were distributed for Peer Support are different from the forms used in PhD Track Support. Also, the procedure has changed. We would like you to carefully read the information on our website and ask you to download the most recent files.

      Is PhD Track Support in place for all AMC PhD candidates?

      Yes, all AMC PhD candidates participate in PhD Track Support, including those who do part-time PhD research next to clinical or other tasks.

       Exception: PhD candidates at an institute with a local PhD monitoring system (e.g. Sanquin or NKI/AvL) should merely send us a copy of their Progress Report and report of the meeting with PI’s.

      What is the surplus value of PhD Track Support?

      PhD Track Support offers a fresh look from an expert outsider, enabling PhD candidates to discuss the progress, process and contents of the PhD research mid-term. The quality of the PhD thesis may benefit from this discourse. Most often PhD candidates enjoy the opportunity to obtain suggestions to further improve their research.

      Who selects and contacts the PhD Track Advisor?

      Jointly the PhD supervisor and the PhD candidate select and contact the PhD Track Advisor. The AMC Graduate School does not appoint a PhD Track Advisor and is not involved in setting up arrangements. You can find all AMC researchers on the Who is Who in Research page.

      Who have to attend the meeting?
      Ideally, the PhD Track Advisor first meets both the PhD candidate and supervisor(s) together, and subsequently (s)he speaks with the PhD candidate separately. Preferably, this is a face to face meeting, however a meeting by phone is also possible. The procedure is flexible and can be changed to local customs if needed.
      May I postpone PhD Track Support?

      PhD Track Support takes place half-way the PhD project, which is a period of a few months. It is possible to postpone the procedure. If you or the intended PhD Track Advisor remain abroad, consider PhD Track Support by phone. Contact the AMC Graduate School if you need postponement.

      Should the PhD Track Advisor be a Principal Investigator?

      Preferably the PhD Track Advisor is a PI, but senior research staff members are eligible to be PhD Track Advisors also. The minimal requirement is a PhD degree. The PhD Track Advisor should be able to understand and evaluate the PhD research, and give recommendations.

      Is the PhD Track Advisor a colleague or a supervisor?

      The PhD Track Advisor cannot be involved in the PhD project as a supervisor. He or she may be a colleague, but not directly involved in the PhD project.

      May I invite a PhD Track Support from another university or institution?

      Yes, as long as the PhD Track Advisor is a senior researcher or at least has a PhD degree.

      Do I actually need to talk to the PhD Track Advisor?

      Yes, there must be contact between the PhD candidate and the PhD Track Advisor about the PhD project. It is not permitted for the PhD Track Advisor to only sign the form without speaking to the PhD candidate and the PhD supervisor.

      Does the AMC Graduate School assign a PhD Track Advisor?
      No. You can find AMC reseachers on the Who is Who in Research page.
      May I fill in the Progress Report in Dutch?

      Yes, if all those involved understand Dutch.

      Do all supervisors sign the Progress Report?

      All supervisors involved in PhD Track Support (at least one) sign the Progress Report. They may be promotor(s) and/or copromotor(s).

      I already submitted the iTSA. Do I need to participate in PhD Track Support?

      Yes. The individual Training and Supervision Agreement (iTSA) is filled out at the start of the PhD project. PhD Track Support focusses on the progress, process and contents in consultation with an expert in your field about half-way the PhD project.

      I already have regular evaluation meetings and 'jaargesprekken'. May I skip PhD Track Support?

      No. PhD Track Support is not an appraisal interview nor a ‘jaargesprek’. PhD Track Support is a chance to improve your PhD research through consultation with an expert outsider. Your supervisor may also benefit from PhD Track Support by expansion of her/his network and new research ideas.

      I recorded the name of a Peer/PhD Track Advisor on the individual Training and Supervision Agreement (iTSA). Do I have to ask this person for the upcoming PhD Track Support procedure?
      No. As the research evolves, the need for the specific background of a PhD Track Advisor may change.
      Should the Progress Report and PhD Track Support form be sent to the AMC Graduate School by the PhD Track Advisor or by me?

      These should be send to the AMC Graduate School, preferabbly as one scanned document, by the PhD candidate.

      Will there be a second PhD Track Support procedure?

      PhD Track Support is a one-time procedure. A second meeting with the PhD Track Advisor may be initialized by the PhD candidate or by the PhD Track Advisor but not through the AMC Graduate School.

      I am not invited for the PhD Track Support procedure but my fellow PhD colleagues are. Why?

      PhD candidates are invited to participate in PhD Track Support exactly 1.5 years after the start of the PhD project. Maybe you did not yet arrive at this time point or maybe you started your PhD project before the AMC Graduate School started organizing PhD Track Support (formerly known as Peer Support).

      My PhD project is both clinically and fundamentally oriented. May I ask two Phd Track Advisors?

      Yes, you may ask two PhD Track Advisors if it benefits your PhD project. Both need to be consulted and both PhD Track Advisors have to sign the PhD Track Support form. 

      It is hardly possible to find a PhD Track Advisor from my department who is not already known with my research. What can I do?

      A PhD Track Advisor may be a colleague from your department with a PhD degree and with knowledge of your research.  Also, you may ask your supervisor to select a PhD Track Advisor from his/her network or select a PhD Track Advisor from the literature. PhD Track Support may be performed by Skype or telephone. A PhD Track Advisor cannot be directly involved in your research line.