Doctoral Training Programme

 

Enrolment

Upon enrolment as a PhD student, you automatically (and without additional costs) become a member of one of VUB's three Doctoral Schools, which means you can participate in the Doctoral Training Programme.

A separate enrolment for the Doctoral Training Programme, without being enrolled as a PhD student, is not possible.

 

Compulsory or not?

The doctoral training programme at VUB is largely free of choice, meaning that you can decide for yourself what skills you need to develop as a researcher and how you should acquire them. The doctoral schools and the central PhD Office design the offer of workshops and seminars specifically to help you in each step of your PhD trajectory.  As of academic year 2017-2018, the first day of the introduction days for new PhD candidates is compulsory, because it includes necessary information about which services to contact, how the doctoral schools operate, what is good scientific conduct and what not, etc. Futhermore, individual faculties may decide to make the doctoral training programme or parts of it compulsory, based on what they consider to be an important factor in the prospective PhD student’s personal file.

 

Why?

The large number of seminars and workshops on offer enables PhD students to develop a wider range of skills. The Doctoral Training Programme presents PhD students with a structural framework for acquiring and developing skills which will support their research as well as their teaching abilities, but which will also prove valuable outside their discipline and the academic environment.

The flexible approach fits the image of PhD students as junior researchers who may need a certain degree of guidance and support, yet are themselves best placed to identify their own particular training needs, issues and concerns. In this way the Doctoral Training Programme is tailored to the actual needs of individual PhD students.

 

Certificate or Attestation?

PhD students who have obtained at least 30 credits and who have successfully defended their doctoral thesis, receive a Doctoral Training Programme Certificate (Getuigschrift van de Doctoraatsopleiding) in addition to their doctoral diploma.

PhD students who did not obtain 30 credits and/or have not successfully defended their doctoral thesis may apply for an official document, an Attestation (Attest van gevolgde activiteiten), listing the activities attended as part of the Doctoral Training Programme.

 

Structure of the Doctoral Training Programme

Each programme will be put together on an individual basis which means it will vary from student to student. The programme consists of 2 different clusters.

All education and research activities are grouped within 1 single cluster of a total of at least 30 credits and there are no more minima and maxima per type of activity. By writing and successfully defending your doctoral thesis you demonstrate that you possess the skills of an independent researcher and, therefore, you are granted a total of another 30 credits (=cluster 2)

DOCTORAL TRAINING PROGRAMME

CREDITS

1. Training and research activities

1.1. Regular course units from Bachelor’s, Master’s or Advanced Master’s Programmes from the VUB (free of charge unless it concerns a programme for which increased tuition fees are asked for courses) or other institutions

1.2. Specialised course units organised by a Doctoral School of the VUB or other institutions

1.3. Doctoral Seminars (e.g. transferable skills workshops, master classes,...)

1.4. Research related activities (e.g. publications, public engagement...)

1.5. Educational activities

min. 30

2. Doctoral dissertation and successful defence

30

 

Structure of the activities within the Doctoral Training Programme

Workshops and seminars organised by the Central PhD Office can be subdivided in the seven categories mentioned underneath.

A

Information, welcome and research culture

B

Organising information and library research

C

Academic writing and publishing

D

Presentation Skills and Science Communication

E

Collecting and Analysing data

F

Funding possibilities and grant proposal writing

G

Career Development and transferable skills

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The activities organised by the Central PhD Office and the Doctoral Schools focus on the following target groups.

I

Starting doctoral researchers & candidates

0-6 months

II

Junior doctoral researchers

6-24 months

III

Advanced doctoral researchers

24 months – year of defense

IV

Senior doctoral researchers

Year of defense

V

Postdoctoral researchers

After a positive defense

 

Registration for activities

Regular Course Units

PhD students can follow regular course units organised by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel without having to pay additional costs (exceptions are possible for course units from a programme with increased tuition fees). 

If you want to register for regular course units at the VUB, you can do so by using the form Registration Regular Course Units, signed for approval by your supervisor and the Professor teaching the concerned course. Send the (completed and signed) form to the Central PhD Office.

As a PhD student you are, just like the regular students, obliged to respect the registration deadline. The deadline for registering for course units in the first semester is usually set to mid-October, registration for course units in the second semester can be done as of the beginning of January until the end of February. The exact deadlines can be found at the top of the registration form.

PhD students who follow a regular Bachelor or Master course organised by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel as part of the Doctoral Training Programme, are not subjected to the pre- and corequisites mentioned in the course description. It is also possible to follow regular courses organised by other institutions if you have the approval of your supervisor. In that case you should follow the registration procedure of the organising institution. 

Doctoral Seminars & Research activities

Registration procedures for doctoral seminars are usually stated in the announcement of the activity. Please follow the registration procedures as the organiser communicates them.

For activities organised by the Central PhD Office the following registration rules apply:

  • The activities organised by the Central PhD Office and Doctoral Schools in the framework of the Doctoral Training Programme are only open to members of the Doctoral Schools of the Vrije Universiteit and Ghent University. Candidates outside of these universities may be able to participate should there be places available but may be charged with a small participation fee.
  • All registrations need to be done through the registration module on the website of the Central PhD Office/Doctoral Schools. You can reach this registration module by clicking on the activity of your choice in the table of activities below or by surfing to https://my.vub.ac.be/en/phd/events
  • The registrations close 2 weeks prior to the start of the activity. After the closing date, participants will be notified of their acceptance or, alternatively, their placement on a waiting list, by e-mail.
  • We kindly ask you to only register for activities you can actually participate in. In case you have already registered but are not able to participate, please kindly notify us by sending an e-mail to doctoral [dot] schools [at] vub [dot] ac [dot] be so that we can offer your place to one of the other PhD students on the waiting list.
  • Registration is mandatory! You can be asked to leave if you don't have a valid registration.

The registration rules for activities organised by the Doctoral Schools can differ from the registration rules of the Central PhD Office, and are stated in the description of the activity.

For all other activities (doctoral seminars and training conducted by other institutions, workshops, conferences…) you have to follow the registration procedures as communicated by the organiser. 

Activities at the UGent

The Doctoral Training Programme is organised in close cooperation with the University of Ghent. This means that the PhD students of the VUB can participate in all activities of the UGent and vice-versa. Participation in regular course units is free for both groups with the exception of courses which are part of a programme where higher tuition fees apply.

In order to be able to participate in UGent activities (regular course units and other activities), the VUB PhD student needs to register as a guest student at the UGent. This registration needs to be done in person at the Student Administration (Ufo, St-Pietersnieuwsstraat 33, Gent). The procedure can be consulted here. After having registered as a guest student, you can register for regular courses using this form.

In order to be able to participate in activities organised by a UGent Doctoral School, the PhD student also needs to register as a guest student after which he/she can follow the regular registration methods as they are described in the announcement of the event (usually through the organising Doctoral School or through the Coordination Unit).

The activities of the UGent Doctoral Schools can be found here.

 

Credits & Evaluation

Regular Course Units

For regular courses in bachelor-, master- or master after master-programs, the number of ECTS credits applies. For new course units organised by the Doctoral Schools, the Director will determine the number of credits.

The manner of evaluation for regular course units is determined by the Professor teaching the course. The evaluation can consist of a written or an oral exam, a portfolio, a project, a paper, an internship, etc... The manner of evaluation for new course units organised by the Doctoral Schools is stated in the announcement of the activity.

Doctoral Seminars

The general rule is that the organiser decides on the amount of credits granted for an activity.

The number of credits to gain for Doctoral Seminars is thus normally determined by the Director of the organising Doctoral School or by the Central PhD Office. The number of credits is stated in the announcement of the activity.

The 'mere' attendance of a Doctoral Seminar will only generate a limited number of credits. A good indicator to look at the number of awarded credits is the time and effort that has to be invested to obtain them. Taking a regular course requires an estimated investment of 125 hours, and usually produces 6 credits.

It is possible that, in order to obtain the predetermined number of credits for a Doctoral Seminar, a positive evaluation or an active participation in the seminar is required. The teacher of the seminar will be responsible for this evaluation.

Research Activities

Because different standards apply in the several disciplines, the Doctoral Schools each use a separate credit table for research related activities which takes into account the individual character of each Doctoral School. These tables (not exhaustive) are annexed to the Credit Validation Form that needs to be used when applying for the Certificate or the Attestation.

In general, active participation is required in order to obtain credits for research related activities.

 

PHD PORTFOLIO

What?

The PhD Portfolio keeps track of the PhD students’ progress in the Doctoral Training Programme, offering them a clear and up-to-date overview of their educational and research activities. There are four main types of activities that are included in the Portfolio:

  1. Regular courses (bachelor, master, advanced master, post graduate ...)
  2. Doctoral Seminars and Workshops (both internal and external activities)
  3. Research Activities, e.g. publications and conference participation, papers, awards ...
  4. Educational Activities
  5. Successful defense of the doctoral thesis

At the end of their doctoral programme, PhD Students will be able to apply for the Certificate of the Doctoral Training Programme or an attestation of the followed activities through the PhD Portfolio.

How does it work? 

Regular Course Units

When you register for a regular course unit from a VUB programme (Bachelor, Master, MaNaMa-programme…), the course will automatically appear into your portfolio. The evaluation of that course will afterwards be processed by the Central PhD Office. If you followed the course successfully, and your supervisor approvesof the activity, the credits will be attributed to your Doctoral Training Programme.

Regular course units from other universities or institutions can be taken into account for the Doctoral Training Programme as well. You have to add the activity and proof to the portfolio yourself, in order for your supervisor and the director of your doctoral school to validate the activity. The validation takes place in the portfolio, and all steps are shown. 

Doctoral Seminars

Doctoral seminars and workshops organised by the Central PhD Office appear automatically in your portfolio (some delay is normal; please allow us some time to process the attendance lists). Your supervisor will be invited to validate these activities.

Doctoral seminars and workshops that are organised by other institutions or universities ought to be added by the PhD student, along with a proof of participation. Your supervisor and the director of your doctoral school will be invited to validate the activity. The validation happens in the portfolio, so you will be able to consult all the steps.

In case you wish to have proof of your participation in a doctoral seminar for your own personal administration, you can use the Proof of Participation form.

Research Activities

Research related activities need to be entered into the PURE database (previously known as R&D-Net) as much as possible. They will automatically be transferred from PURE to the portfolio. This functionality isn't operative yet, but in the meantime, keep entering your publications and conferences in PURE.

What is PURE? PURE is the unique integrated research database from the VUB, where all meta-data concerning research are stored. Not the results of the research, but all describing and identifying data. Researchers associated with the VUB and having a VUB account can adjust and edit their academic profile on the PURE website. Logging on to the PURE website requires a registration as a VUB member of personnel. If necessary you can contact the Human Resources department to grant you the necessary access.

The Central PhD Office will use this data as proof when processing your application for the Certificate of the Doctoral Training Programme or the Attestation.

For all other internal or external activities (summer schools, doctoral seminars, ...) you will be asked to add proof.

Applying for the Certificate or Attestation

Certificate or Attestation?

PhD students who have obtained at least 30 credits and who have successfully defended their doctoral thesis, receive a Doctoral Training Programme Certificate in addition to their doctoral diploma. The Doctoral Training Programme Certificate has a value of 60 ECTS and is signed by the Rector of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

PhD students who have obtained less than 30 credits and/or have not passed their PhD thesis defence successfully may apply for an official document (Attestation) listing the activities attended as part of the Doctoral Training Programme.

Application procedure

Important: Requesting the Certificate or Attestation through the portfolio will only be possible as from the academic year 2017-2018. PhD students who want to apply before the beginning of the academic year 2016-2017 need to follow the ‘former’ application on paper (see below).

 

Once all the conditions in order to request the Certificate of the Doctoral Training Programme are fulfilled a ‘Request Certificate’ button will appear in the online portfolio.

An Attestation listing the activities attended as part of the Doctoral Training Programme can be requested at any time by clicking on the ‘Request Attestation’ button in the portfolio.

Remark:

-       You can request the Certificate or Attestation only once.

-       You cannot request both the Certificate and the Attestation.

 

Former Application procedure (until the beginning of academic year 2018-2019) 

Please use the credit validation form to file all relevant activities. Please also attach an export file of PURE for research related activities (publications and conferences). Make sure to attach all relevant proof and keep your credit suggestions reasonable.

It is allowed to add activities, organised both internally or externally, of previous years if you can provide the necessary and correct information and proof, if you supervisor acknowledges that these activities are relevant to your Doctoral Training Programme and if these activities (only in case of regular course units) were followed after your initial training, i.e. the training that granted you access to the PhD.

You can only submit your application for the Certificate or the Attestation once in your PhD period. The application can be submitted until the 15th of December of the calendar year in which your last registration as a PhD student ends. For example, if your last registration is for the year 2014-15, you can submit your application for the Certificate or the Attestation until the 15th of December 2015.

 

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