Netherlands Centre for Graduate and Research Schools

August 2017

  • Stress among PhD candidates. 38% of the PhD candidates at Leiden University are at risk of serious mental health problems. That is concluded by Inge van der Weijden and Ingeborg Meijer after having surveyed 250 PhD candidates and having interviewed twelve of them. Especially young and international candidates are at risk. Whether PhD candidates have an employment contract or not doesn’t affect their mental well-being, neither does autonomy or workload. However, how PhD candidates deal with their workload influences their mental health. This study used the same method as previous research at Flemish universities and found quite similar results. The full policy report is available in English and Dutch.


February 2017

  • Dissertation quality in the Netherlands. On January 20, 2017, the Netherlands Centre of Expertise for Doctoral Education organized by and with support from the TU Delft a conference on the quality of dissertations defended in the Netherlands. The immediate reason for organizing this day is that we know a lot in the Netherlands on completion rates of doctoral programs, the time to degree and labor market prospects of PhD recipients, but cannot draw firm conclusions regarding the quality of the end product of all these doctoral efforts. Based on the previously collected information and discussions during the discussion day we wrote a report: Dissertation Quality - Standings 2017. In Dutch.
  • Inge van der Weijden, Evan de Gelder, Christine Teelken, Marian Thunnissen (2017) Which grass is greener? Personal stories of PhDs on their careers inside and outside science. 10 portraits of PhDs working outside the science & 3 personal stories of employers. Focus on transferable skills and recommendations for doctoral candidates and PhD recipients, universities and employers outside science (in Dutch). Link
  • Hans Sonneveld (2016, published in 2017) Dissertations in heavy weather. Rejected dissertations of the Tilburg Law School. An analysis of the records of eleven theses that have been rejected in first instance by the dissertation committees. Questions: Who are these candidates? Do all categories (full time PhD students in an employee position, scholarship candidates, external candidates) meet these problems? Or are there specific categories that stand out? Who are the dissenting evaluators? What forms can take their criticism? How do the primary supervisors react on the objections? Section six deals with the substance of this report, the content of the criticism. If a dissertation is initially rejected,on which aspects does the criticism focus? The report concludes with the effects of the rejection for the candidates. Text (in Dutch)
  • Zinner e.a. (2016) Professionals in Doctoral Education. University of Vienna
    There is no doubt, that the last decade has been marked by changes in Higher Education. These changes have in some areas been accompanied by an ascent of Higher Education Professionals. But although the area of doctoral education has especially been affected by structural changes the roles of the strongly developing supporting staff in this area so far has been neglected. We believe it is time to put Professionals in Doctoral Education under the spotlight. Who are they, what do they do, why are they so important? This handbook intends to provide hands-on and practical information on the roles and activities of doctoral education professionals. The proposed target audience are administrators in doctoral education, HR managers and academic leaders in higher education institutions. Modern doctoral education needs professional staff and this handbook aims at helping to reach this goal.  Text
  • Hans Sonneveld (2015, published in 2017). PhD candidates who take very long for the completion of their doctoral thesis. Report of a research project. Tilburg Law School.
    Central questions in this report: What are the working conditions of PhD students who take more than five or six years for the completion of their dissertation? When did it become clear that the thesis would not be ready in time? What are the main causes of this delay? Does the long duration as such threaten a successful completion of the dissertation? What kind of support does the candidate need who is suffering from delay? In what way can we avoid this problem of delayed doctoral projects? Text. (in Dutch)

October 2016

  • Waaijer CJF, Sonneveld H, Buitendijk SE, van Bochove CA, van der Weijden ICM (2016) The Role of Gender in the Employment, Career Perception and Research Performance of Recent PhD Graduates from Dutch Universities. PLoS ONE 11(10): e0164784. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0164784
    The study is based on a survey of persons who obtained a PhD from one of five Dutch universities between 2008 and early 2012. We show that gender differences in post-PhD careers are non-existent in some aspects studied, but there are small differences in other aspects, such as sector of employment, type of contract, involvement in teaching and management, and career perception. In contrast, male and female PhDs differ sharply on two factors. The first is field of PhD, females being heavily underrepresented in engineering and the natural sciences. The second is part-time employment, females being much more likely to work part-time than males, especially if they work in the Netherlands. Text

September 2016

  • A TuDelft magazine for PhD candidates.... Your doctoral adventure, your story.

    "This Magazine is a platform for PhD candidates (Noeska Smit and Eleni Papadonikolaki), alumnus (Robert Nieuwenhuizen), DE trainers (Margaret Welten & Niels Tekke), a supervisor (Fulvio Scarano) and industry (Andre Steenhuis from Allseas) to share with you the importance of the skills that are acquired and how you will apply them to your PhD and future careers. The magazine also shows: facts and figures, examples and insights of doctoral candidates about the content of their current job and their acquired skills; the DE competences and skills model; description of the competences and skills; the competency guide to help to review competences and performance levels."

    Link: Doctoral-education-magazine


  • New publication
  • Cathelijn J. F. Waaijer • Rosalie Belder • Hans Sonneveld • Cornelis A. van Bochove • Inge C. M. van der Weijden: Temporary contracts: effect on job satisfaction and personal lives of recent PhD graduates. In this study, we assess the effects of temporary employment on job satisfaction and the personal lives of recent PhD graduates. Compared to PhDs employed on a permanent contract, PhDs on a temporary contract are less satis?ed with their terms of employment, especially if they have no prospect of permanence. Temporary contracts with no prospect of permanence also decrease satisfaction with job content. Conversely, self-employment increases satisfaction with job content. Educational level required for the job also in?uences job satisfaction to a large degree: working below PhD level negatively affects job satisfaction. Finally, the type of contract affects different aspects of the personal lives of PhDs, such as the ability to obtain a mortgage, the stability of family life, and the possibility to start a family.

    Text: 2016 Temporary contracts Waaijer etc. Interview about this research, page 13 Research Europe.

May 2016


  • New publications
    • TuDelft: PhD Selection Guide. How to get the right PhD candidate. Selecting the right PhD candidate is an important first step in a successful PhD programme. From defining the project through to appointing the PhD candidate, this selection guide enables a professional recruitment and selection of PhD candidates. Meer informatie.
    • Hans Sonneveld: Selection and admission of doctoral candidates. Manual for Doctoral Programs, Graduate and Research Schools. Answering the question “which aspect of the PhD supervision is the most difficult ?” we answer: the selection of doctoral candidates ...Why is this part of our job so difficult? What can a director of a doctoral program do to raise the quality of the selection to a higher level? These are the questions we will answer in this chapter. Meer informatie.
    • Technical University of Denmark: Results from a survey among PhD graduates and recruiters. As one of Europe’s leading technical universities, Technical University of Denmark (DTU) constantly focuses on ensuring the high quality and relevance of its study programmes. This of course also applies to the PhD programme with the number of enrolled PhD students increasing to approximately 1,500 in 2015. DTU has commissioned this survey of PhD graduates and recruiters in order to ensure the high quality and positive development of its PhD programme. Meer informatie.
    • Associations of universities of science and technology – CESAER, CLUSTER, EuroTech Universities Alliance, IDEA League and Nordic Five Tech:Innovative doctoral traning at universities of science and technology.This discussion paper aims to highlight some best practices and challenges that TU’s encounter in the development of their doctoral training programmes. Meer informatie.
    • Colette Kleemann-Rochas, Graziella Farina, Mercedes Fernandez. Mireille Michel: Comment rédiger un rapport, un mémoire, un projet de recherche, une activité de recherche en cours ? Il existe quelques dizaines de guides donnant des conseils sur la rédaction d’un rapport. Quelques-uns, tout comme le nôtre, sont gratuitement téléchargeables sur la toile (voir « Notre bibliographie »). L'originalité de ce manuel est qu’on y trouve également une dizaine de pages toutes prêtes servant de canevas pour rédiger un rapport. Meer informatie.
    • League of European Research Universities: Maintaining a quality culture in doctoral education at research-intensive universities. Doctoral programmes within LERU aim to train the next generation of researchers to the highest skill levels in order to launch creative, critical and autonomous intellectual risk takers. In addition, the modern doctorate needs to provide excellent training for roles beyond research and higher education. How can universities ensure that these objectives will be achieved? They do this by ensuring that they maintain doctoral training embedded in a strong research culture and through Quality Assurance (QA) processes which scrutinise and enhance this culture and the activities. Meer informatie.
    • Wageningen School of Social Sciences: Procedures, Principles and Good Practices for Supervising PhD candidates. For a successful PhD project, the relation between a PhD candidate and supervisors is a key issue. As a graduate school, WASS is responsible for safeguarding the quality of supervision. The WASS Committee on Scientific Integrity, together with the WASS community, has developed eight basic principles for effective interaction between PhD candidates and their supervisors....Most importantly, and especially for this Guide, many WASS supervisors and PhD candidates have shared their
      experiences on the do’s and don’ts of supervision with us.Meer informatie.



  • New Good Practices in Doctoral Education
  • November 6, the Netherlands Centre for Graduate and Research Schools organized a meeting entitled The PhD in 2025. Three issues were central: the arrival of a new type of PhD candidate, the one funded by a scholarship (in stead of having an employee position) , the expansion of the Ius Promovendi and the (im) possibility of three-year PhD programs. Report.
  • Hans Sonneveld. Supervision in Europe. To further innovate or to consolidate, that’s the question. Text of presentation at the EUA Council for Doctoral Education Annual Meeting, 18 - 19 June 2015 at theTechnical University Munich in Germany. Full text.
  • From June 2015, the core group of the Centre consists of Stella van der Meulen (Delft University of Technology), Gab van Winkel (Wageningen University), Hervé Tijssen (Tilburg University) and Hans Sonneveld.
  • Procedures, Principles and Good Practices for SUPERVISING PHD CANDIDATES
    at Wageningen School of Social Sciences
    . Full text
  • Stella Boeschoten, Charlotte van Hees, Kees Mulder, Sabine Waasdorp, Martijn Weekenstroo, The PhD in the Dutch Academic System, Science in Transition, February 2015.

    The aim of this report is to evaluate the current role of a PhD candidate in academia, particularly regarding his career perspectives and to investigate whether there are differences between the different graduate schools. To achieve this, we conducted 26 inter-views with people in different faculties and different layers within university or connected to the university. Full text.


  • Hans Sonneveld (ed.) & EEMCS supervisors, Supervisors at work! Guidance of PhD candidates at the Graduate School of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science (TU Delft). Graduate School EEMCS, October 2014.
    The Graduate School EEMCS wants to get more insight in the way supervisors act when guiding PhD candidates. For that PhD supervisors were consulted. They were asked to give advice to an imaginary new colleague. Besides, eight principal PhD supervisors have been interviewed. The results of both of these exercises have been brought together in this publication. For conveying the different views, we chose for a narrative style in which the reader is addressed by an experienced supervisor. Full text.
  • Marije de Goede, Rosalie Belder, Jos de Jonge, Promoveren in Nederland. Motivatie en loopbaanverwachtingen van promovend [Doing a PhD in the Netherlands. Motivation and career expectations of PhD candidates] Rathenau Instituut, November 2014. (In Dutch)
    Chapters:Start of a PhD Trajectory; motivations and targets. The trajectory:personal development and training. Completion of the PhD trajectory: preparing for the future. Other types of PhD candidates: medical PhDs and external candidates. Full text.
  • Pleun van Arensbergen, Talent Proof. Selection processes in research funding and careers. Dissertation, Free University of Amsterdam, published by Rathenau Instsituut, September 2014.
    The research questions of this study, ‘What is academic talent and how is it selected?’ aim to create a better understanding of the process of talent selection within academia, especially in the context of grant allocation.
    Key results of this study address the criteria used in talent assessment and more specifically the weight assigned to publications; the social and competitive nature of grant allocation processes; the role of gender in talent selection and gender differences in academic performance; and factors supporting or impeding academic careers.
    This study feeds current debates on scientific quality and the growing competition for funding and academic positions with empirical arguments. It refl ects on the existing mechanisms of talent selection and ends with a discussion on the implications for higher education and science policyto uphold and stimulate academic talent. Full text.



  • The Netherlands Centre for Graduate and Research Schools has launched it's website