Supervising a PhD

Supervision during the entire PhD Track is provided by maximally 2 Supervisors (promotores). Responsibilities of the supervisor(s) may be delegated to one or more daily supervisors (copromotores). Supervisors (promotores) are professors of Utrecht University or UMC Utrecht or associate professors endowed with the ius promovendi.


Supervisor responsibilities include, a.o.: 

  • Adequate supervision of the PhD candidate;
  • Complete registration of the PhD candidate with Hora Est (Form 1) and a signed TSA within three months after employment;
  • Appointment of a Supervisory Committee for each individual PhD candidate;
  • Funding of the PhD track;
  • Informing the PhD candidate on the expectations of all stake holders;
  • Stimulation of creative research and a critical attitude with a pro-active approach;
  • Informing the PhD candidate of relevant seminars, master classes, symposia, conferences and summer schools;
  • Imparting scientific integrity;
  • Organisation of the annual assessment interview;
  • Organisation of the annual interview with the Supervisory Committee;
  • Timely preparation and submission of the thesis to the reading committee and hence the finalisation of the PhD track;
  • Advising the PhD candidate on personal development, career perspectives and stimulating course participation.

Progress of the PhD track is monitored formally in annual assessment interviews in accordance with the regulations of the institute of affiliation. It is tempting to ‘just’ discuss the progress of the research project. But the interview should also include the content and progression of the Training Programme as described in the TSA and probably adjustment of the training plans during the PhD track. We strongly encourage you and the PhD candidate to use this opportunity for reflection. Just once a year, take a step back and evaluate not only the progress of the research project (will the PhD candidates finish in time?), his/her personal development and career opportunities after the graduation. The GSLS has developed a self assessment form to assist you and the PhD candidate in the development of competences in a structured fashion.

Make sure you and the PhD candidate have an assessment interview every year. This will benefit to a smooth(er) progression of the PhD track and of the (personal) development of both you and the PhD candidate.

A Supervisory Committee (aiobegeleidingscommissie) is assigned to each PhD candidate at the beginning of the research track. The PhD candidates should have an active role in choosing who will be part of the committee by discussing this closely with you and/or other supervisors.

The role of the Supervisory Committee is to provide independent advice to both (daily) supervisor(s) and PhD candidate with respect to the progress (rate, direction, quality) of the PhD track. This means that you, as the (co-)supervisor, are not attending this meeting!

The committee consists of 1-2 members, each of them being a researcher (staff member) in a field related to that of the PhD candidate, and not involved in the PhD candidate’s research project.

Questions that may be addressed by the Supervisory Committee include, but need not be limited to:

  • Is it clear to the PhD candidate what is expected by the supervisor, and vice versa?
  • What are the results of the previous year?
  • Is the (sub)project realistic and feasible within the timeframe planned?
  • Is there a clear plan established between the PhD candidate and the (co-) supervisor(s) with regards to research and training for the upcoming year?
  • What are expected bottlenecks? How will they be managed?
  • What results need to be obtained to finish the thesis?
  • Are the research facilities adequate?
  • Is the quality (length, frequency) of meetings between the PhD candidate and the (co-) supervisor adequate?
  • Is the PhD candidate apt to continue the project?
  • Which of the PhD candidate's skills or knowledge areas require improvement?
  • How will this be achieved?

For more information: see the Training and Supervision Agreement.

Every PhD candidate of Utrecht University (this also includes PhD candidates employed with the University Medical Centre Utrecht) is required to comply with The Netherlands’ Code of Conduct for scientific practice which includes topics such as scrupulousness, reliability, verifiability, impartiality, and independence. ln addition to these national guidelines, Utrecht University’s ‘Code of Conduct for Scrupulous Academic Practice and Integrity’ describes key principles on how to achieve the open culture that it desires. An academic integrity counsellor and a committee for academic integrity have been appointed to look into complaints concerning academic integrity. You can address any questions or complaints about academic integrity to the Academic Integrity Counsellor.