In 2020, an evaluation of the faculty’s PhD programme was initiated, and an external evaluation panel submitted a report in March 2021. The evaluation report underlines that HF’s PhD programme holds a high standard, but also highlights areas with room for improvement and underlines the faculty’s potential to develop a leading research training program within the field of humanities.
The panel suggests keeping today’s structure with one common PhD programme for the entire faculty, with the main emphasis of academic follow-up delegated to the departments, but with strengthened coordination and collaboration to ensure an equally spaced offer to all candidates, enough participants in the PhD courses, common quality standards and efficient utilization of our large academic portfolio
The report also highlights the importance of professional supervision in the PhD programme and suggests to introduce measures to strengthen the supervisory collegial fellowship. Moreover, the panel proposes that we should ensure good career support for all candidates, regardless of whether they want a career in academia, and reconsider the use of the completion grant period.
The action plan will give a comprehensive approach to the work to further enhance the quality of the faculty’s PhD programme. With PhD programme we mean the total scope of research training offered at the Faculty of Humanities and its framework, meaning the course provision, supervision and doctoral thesis work, the follow-up of the individual candidate and the organization of the research training programme at the faculty and the departments.
The action plan’s measures will contribute to ensuring that all candidates in the programme receive follow-up and a research training programme of high quality, which is predictable and stable regardless of which department they are affiliated with. The research training programme should be organized so that the available resources are utilized appropriately, and so that continuity and predictability in the offer is ensured.
There is a need for a greater degree of coordination of the courses offered at the departments, and there is an underutilized potential for collaboration and division of labour between the departments.
There is also a need to develop the faculty’s joint courses. Coordination and new instructions for the educational component will still give the departments room for variations in the offer and activities, but certain common minimum standards regarding what the educational provision will include, will be specified.
The action plan has five prioritized areas:
- Coordination and collaboration
- Educational component
- Career development
- Quality assurance
1: Coordination and collaboration
Strengthened coordination and collaboration will contribute to ensuring predictable and good reasearch training to all our PhD candidates, and will give us the opportunity to utilize our large academic portfolio in an appropriate and resource-efficient way. The departments will, as today, deliver most of the course offerings and have the main responsibility for the follow-up of the PhD candidates.
The faculty’s PhD leader will contribute to coordination and improved collaboration. The collaboration will be strengthened by establishing a PhD programme council that replaces today’s PhD leader network. The administrative PhD network, PHD-FANE, is also essential for collaboration, information sharing and coordination across the departments. The faculty shall provide a clear framework for and expectations towards the departments’ research training activities, and facilitate collaboration.
Several of the other measures in the action plan and the need for more coordination, demand an expansion of the scope of the position as coordinator for the faculty’s joint PhD course (hereafter “the faculty’s PhD leader”). The PhD leader will be given some new tasks compared to today’s arrangement.
The PhD leader will have a more active role in the work to coordinate the departments’ research training activities. In addition, the faculty’s PhD leader will develop and coordinate the faculty’s research training programme offer, both the compulsory generic part and the education in researcher skills (generic courses).
The faculty’s PhD leader will follow up on the selection of courses and ensure that it is predictable and sufficient, make sure that the burden of labour is distributed evenly between the departments (relative to size) and that the departments may make use of each others’ courses and competence. The PhD leader will lead the program council. The term of years as the new PhD leader will be announced internally, with a planned entry in the summer of 2022.
The departments have a delegated responsibility for academic activities and follow-up of PhD candidates and supervisors. The PhD leaders of the departments will therefore be a part of or closely connected to the management team at the respective departments. To strengthen collaboration and coordination across departments and faculty, and to raise the quality of the research training, a PhD programme council with a clear mandate, will be established.
The departments will be represented in the program council meetings and the PhD leaders must actively participate to enhance collaboration and division of labour across departments and with the faculty’s PhD leader. The program council should continuously discuss what quality in research training entails.
Composition: The program council will be lead by the faculty’s PhD leader and will consist of one PhD leader from each of the seven departments, one research fellow and one technical-administrative employee.
The program council will:
- Coordinate and plan the selection of courses in such a way that the overall research training offered at the faculty covers the needs of the entire mass of research fellows, that it is predictable and utilises our extensive academic portfolio, as well as sharing the workload of arranging courses and activities equally between the departments, relative to their size.
- Collaborate on the implementation of courses or other activities for the PhD candidates.
- Plan topics for and distribute the responsibility for holding supervisor meetings.
- Regularly discuss how to calculate credits and the criteria for equaling and approving external courses, to ensure a just count of credits and equal demands to the educational component for all of our PhD candidates, regardless of which department they belong to.
- Regularly discuss routines for follow-up of the PhD candidates, including their reception and completion.
The selection of research training activities will be predictable both to the PhD candidates and the departments delivering the courses. The course portfolio etc should as far as possible be planned two years ahead and will be coordinated by the faculty’s PhD leader, in order for the departments to know their responsibilities as well as when to implement them.
The coordination will ensure that the PhD programme overall offers a relevant and varied research education of high quality. The courses offered will be in line with the instructions regarding content and composition of the candidate’s educational component. Through the coordination of both academic and generic courses, both optional and mandatory, an appropriate sharing of labor between the departments and the faculty will be ensured. All courses, seminars, or the like, will be announced as early as possible, following a template determined by the faculty and on a joint platform.
Instructions and procedure descriptions for planning, coordinating and announcing courses and other offers to the PhD candidates at the faculty of humanities, will be prepared by the end of 2022.
2: Educational component
All of the faculty’s PhD candidates will receive a good, relevant and predictable selection of research training courses and activities. The research training offered should be relevant both to the individual candidate’s thesis work and include content that is unifying and generic for everyone with a PhD degree from the faculty of humanities at the University of Oslo.
What is required of the candidates and what they can expect as PhD candidates in the faculty's PhD programme must be clear. The educational component must have a clear scope, while at the same time make room for variation and flexibility. The composition of the educational component will be revised. Minimum requirements to and descriptions of the training in methods, ethics, philosophy of science and dissemination, will be prepared.
The overarching framework for the composition of the educational component will be revised. New instructions for the educational component and changes in the programme plan will be adopted in 2022.
The educational component, which ads up to 30 credits, will consist of the following:
- Ethics training: Consists of a common, mandatory ethics seminar for all candidates of the faculty’s PhD programme, which includes privacy protection and data management, in combination with subject-specific ethical training at the individual department or departments in collaboration.
- Philosophy of science: Consists of a small, joint and mandatory seminar in the philosophy of science for all candidates of the faculty’s PhD programme, which will be combined with training in the philosophy of science at the individual department or departments in collaboration.
- Method: all candidates will have training in method. This training will be given at the individual department or departments in collaboration.
- Dissemination: all candidates will have training in dissemination, including a common, mandatory dissemination course.
- Text presentation and textual criticism (thesis seminar): All candidates will recieve training in the presentation of their own text, as well as give and receive critics and feedback.
- Participation in an international conference: all candidates will attend an international conference with a paper/lecture/abstract.
- Prospective mandatory research courses at the individual department. To be determined by the department.
- Elective research training courses: the candidates may put together the last part of the educational component with elective courses. These may be research training courses at the department, at other units of the University of Oslo and/or external courses. The courses and the number of credits granted must be preliminarily approved by the PhD leader of the department.
By the end of 2022, new descriptions of, and requirements for the different elements of the educational component, will be prepared.
A minimum standard for the departments’ research training will be established, in line with the changes in the educational component. All departmentss will, alone, in collaboration with other departments or external partners, as a minimum offer the following to the candidates:
- Training in ethics, in addition to the faculty’s generic course.
- Training in the philosophy of science, in addition to the faculty’s generic course.
- Training in method, adjusted to the candidates’ need and coordinated with other departments.
- PhD seminar/thesis seminar: the departments will have a running seminar where the research fellows may get together on a regular basis, minimum twice per semester, for different academic activities. As a minimum, the seminar should include mandatory presentation of text drafts and text feedbak (the thesis seminar), but may also include research courses, guest lectures etc. Participation across departments will be accomodated.
The PhD programme council will discuss norms and create guidelines for weighting and approving internal and external courses, seminars and the like, to ensure quality and uniform counting. The faculty is responsible for ensuring that all members of the program council know the basic principles of counting ECTS-credits, as well as relevant parts of the Act relating to universities and university colleges, and the Regulations for the degree of Philosophiae Doctor (PhD) at the University of Oslo, to ensure that weighting and approval of courses and activites are in line with the current rules.
The faculty’s candidates will have more predictable and better coordinated courses in research skills than they do today. Through a three year course of study, as well as the completion grant period for the faculty’s research fellows, the candidates will be offered training in the following themes:
- Writing of monograph and article based thesis.
- Advanced library services.
- Managing data
- Academic english
- Publishing articles and books on an international level
- Research financing in Norway and the EU
This training does not give credits and is not included in the candidates educational component. Cources are held by the departments or by external units, but is coordinated by the Program council and the faculty’s PhD leader.
All candidates shall recieve good supervision, by at least two supervisors, adapted to their academic needs and changes in their needs throughout the thesis work. The departments shall ensure that all supervisors know UiO’s Ethical Guidelines for Supervision Relations, that supervision is adressed in the appraisal meeting, that the supervision competence of new employees is mapped and that external co-supervisors are informed about local norms and conditions. The supervisor and the candidate shall know the requirements and the liabilities in their relationship.
A joint meeting will be arranged for all new candidates and their supervisiors once or twice per year, depending on the need. These meetings will bring about a common understanding of the PhD programme and the educational component, expectations to the supervision, what co-supervision includes, reporting requirements etc. The meeting is not part of the educational component of the PhD programme, but it is expected that both the candidate and the supervisor show up at these meetings.
The faculty will establish and follow-up small supervisor networks for group coaching and colleague supervision. The faculty assembles these groups, which are meant to last for several years, but the groups will be self-containing and the participants will initiate meetings and other activities.
Each department, or several departments in collaboration, will arrange meetings for supervisors each year. These meetings will concentrate on subjects that are important to ensure good supervision relations and high quality supervision. The supervisor meetings will be coordinated by the program council.
4: Career development
The faculty will facilitate career- and competence development, as well as development of the candidates career awareness, regardless of whether they are aiming for a career in acadmia or not. The work to improve career support for PhD candidates has already started with a template for career planning for PhD candidates and planned training in career conversations for the departments PhD leders and research leaders. Additonal measures for career development will be developed and implemented, throughout the entire PhD programme period, including how the completion grant year can be utilized for maximizing competence development.
In line with the faculty’s annual plan 2022-23, the faculty will establish and offer career development measures for PhD candidates by the end of 2023. Measures must be developed in collaboration between the faculty and the departments, and in collaboration with HR and external partners (i.e. the Career center).
The completion grant year should be flexible, in order to maximise its contribution to relevant competence for the candidates. Teaching will still be a core element of the completion grant, but with greater room for adaptation and variation. Both researcher skills and career development measures should be seen in relation to the completion grant period. The department and the candidate will together make a plan for the completion grant period.
The guidelines for, and the description of tasks in the completion grant period will be revised by the end of 2022. A working group with participants from different departments and with different roles, will prepare a proposal for new guidelines and routines for planning the completion grant period.
5: Quality assurance
Both the faculty and the departments are responsible for ensuring the quality of the PhD programme and to follow UiO’s Quality Assurance System. The work to ensure quality will take place continuously, and questions about what quality means and how we should work with quality will be discussed regularly in the relevant fora. The program council is responsible for the ongoing work with the research training and the quality assurance committee will together with the vice dean for research and reseach training be responsible for the overarching work on quality assurance.
The faculty and the departments have a duty to comply with the requirements of UiO’s quality assurance system. The faculty will revise the routine descriptions for the quality system to ensure that the requirements for subject descriptions, subject evaluations, reporting, and program evaluations are clear and familiar to everybody.
The quality assurance committee is an advisory organ whose task is to ensure quality of the faculty’s research training programme. The quality assurance committee will pursue, but with a sharpened role and mandate. The committee will have an active role in the quality assurance work, with a mandate to formulate the order of the departments annual reports, consider the reports and give advice on follow-up of the reports to the individual departments.
Composition: The committee is lead by the vice dean for research and research training, and further consists of three full time academic employees without PhD leader responsibility, and one research fellow representative. The four members of the committee will normally have differing department attachments.
The quality assurance committee shall:
- Formulate the order of the departments annual report to the faculty.
- Suggest changes in the progress report template, when needed.
- Process the departments and the PhD-leader’s annual reports and give feedback in writing, in the form of comments and/or follow-up questions. When needed, there is a follow-up meeting about the annual reports between the faculty and the department.
All PhD-candidates, both internal research fellows and externally financed candidates, shall be affiliated with active academic environments and the candidates who are admitted to the faculty’s PhD-program shall contribute actively to the academic environment and participate in the activities of the PhD programme.
Guidelines and routines for admission to the PhD-program will be revised to ensure that the department has relevant supervision competence and supervision capacity, that all candidates can be affiliated with active research environments and be integrated in academic networks. Requirements and expectations to the candidates’ presence and participation will be specified.
A minimum standard for the reception of new PhD candidates, follow-up during the process, as well as completion, will be introduced.
- All new candidates at the faculty and their supervisors will participate at a joint meeting. The meeting is held 1-2 per year, depending on the need (see also measure 3.1).
- All new PhD candidates will have a start-up conversation at the department. The candidate, the supervisor, the administrative leader, the PhD-leader and/or the research leader will participate in the conversation. Together they review the content of the admission agreement, including requirements and expectations to the supervision. A common template for this start-up conversation will be developed.
- All candidates, both research fellows employed at the department and candidates with external financing, will be offered a yearly appraisal meeting or follow-up conversation with the department’s research leader or PhD leader (depending on the department’s routines and division of responsibilites).
- The departments shall have good routines for progress reporting from all PhD candidates and supervisors, as well as follow-up of the reports. The progress reporting will be followed-up with conversations and/or other measures when it is reported, or there is reason to believe that, there are challenges when it comes to progression, the supervisory relationship et cetera.
- All candidates of the PhD-program at the Faculty of humanities shall carry out a mid-term evaluation. The mid-term evaluation is a compulsory part of the PhD programme. The departments are responsible for the implementation of the mid-term evaluation for their candidates. The scheme also includes candidates with an external employer. At the start of the program, the department, the candidate and the supervisor agree on which period the mid-term evaluation will be implemented, in allusion to the progress plan, research stay et cetera.
- Six months before the planned handing in of the doctoral thesis, the department will conduct a conversation with all research fellows who qualify for the completion grant. The conversation will include a review and planning of tasks and chores in the completion grant period.
All departments shall carry out a final conversation where the candidate, the supervisor, the research leader or PhD leader and one administrative representative, participates. A common template for this final conversation will be created. The doctorate candidate will also receive a greeting and flowers from the department at the first joint meeting or similar occation after the doctoral thesis has been defended.