Supervision, research plan, and project-and-training plan

Mentoring & Supervision

If you want to start a PhD student study, a professor has to officially recommend you to Radboud University. This professor also functions as your supervisor. Besides your supervisor you might also have a co-supervisor who mentors you on a daily basis; often this is the same person as your supervisor.

It is important that you make detailed agreements with your supervisor and co-supervisor to prevent disappointments in the later stages of the project, see the following adivce:

  • make clear arrangements with your supervisor(s) about who is responsible helping you with  which parts of the project, how often you would like to discuss your progress, how you deal with conferences/congress visits, and about authorship of publications.
  • arrange regular appointments with you supervisor(s)  first to prevent that he/they don’t have time and second so you look critically at your progress at regular interva
  • arrange regular appointments with both of your supervisors (if applicable) together to prevent that their expectations differ.
  • if you have doubts/problems with the mentoring don’t hesitate to voice them in the meetings and go search for additional help, e.g. trusted third parties.
  • make sure that besides your supervisor(s) you have somebody to share problems and frustration with. Mostly these persons are fellow PhD students or office mates.
  • ask each year for an official progress interview. This is especially important as this is the prerequisite to get the yearly pay rise that you are eligible for.

Research Plan

Writing a research plan is a good way to start your project. The research plan defines the goals of your research and how you are going to achieve and document them. The research plan also clarifies what exactly you want to do and helps your supervisor to see what you plan to do when, and this helps to successfully see the project going through. An accredited research plan is a prerequisite to get your contract extended after the first 12 to 18 months.

The most important thing is to make sure that you have a research plan before you start working for real. Think it through and discuss it with your supervisor(s) and colleagues.There are several more sources where you can get information about how to write a research plan; you can find them on the webpages of the PNN (PhD council of the Netherlands).

Supervision-and-training plan (STP) / Opleiding-en-Begeleiding Plan (OBP)

At the beginning of their contract some PhD students have to hand in a project-and-training plan (Opleidings en Begeleidingsplan) at the institute that employs them. This plan minimally contains the meetings with your supervisor(s) and your and their tasks and responsibilities. If you get appointed to teach bachelor/master students this is also defined in the plan.

In general it can be distinguished between your education in a specific topic of research and your education beyond that. When you want to participate in one or more of the PhD student classes you might want to ask your supervisor for permission.