Organisation of doctoral studies at the faculty

Doctoral studies and the University of Tartu are regulated by the Regulations for Doctoral Studies, which include general requirements for supervision, individual planning, assessment and application for a doctoral degree. It is recommended that doctoral students get acquainted with the good practices of the University of Tartu, especially the good practices of doctoral studies.

Information for the 1st year doctoral students

Individual plan

Progress review

 

At the progress review the review committee assesses the doctoral student's progress in research and studies based on their curriculum and fulfilment of the individual plan.

All activities taken into consideration at the progress review must be related to the doctoral student's doctoral thesis. The main purpose is to assess the progress of the doctoral thesis.

Learn more

The progress report is written by the doctoral student and confirmed by his/her supervisor. Good Practice of Doctoral Studies recommends the supervisor to support the doctoral student in preparation for the progress review (Good Practice of Doctoral Studies, clause 9.18).

The doctoral student / external doctoral student submits the following documents to the review committee at least 8 working days before the progress review date:

1. the progress report with his/her own and the supervisor’s (supervisors’) signatures,

A. Doctoral student's progress review
B. External PhD student's progress review

2. entries into the supervision diary which have been confirmed by the supervisor(s),
3. manuscripts of completed article(s) and/or chapter(s) of a monograph,
4. the individual plan for the next review period (RDS, clauses 49, 50, Procedure..., clause 7.1, 7.2).

Before submitting your documents, make sure that:

  • the files (incl. within the container) have correct titles:
    • Report­_[surname]_[month]_[year],
    • Supervision diary_[surname]_[date of appointment];
       
  • all files are in pdf-format;
     
  • if your documents are on paper, you need to scan the documents (progress report, supervision diary entries) and upload them into SIS as one pdf document. Uploaded file has a correct title: [first name]_[surname]_[month]_[year];
     
  • if you are signing your report digitally, your progress report and supervision diary entries have to be digitally signed in one container. The container has a correct title: [first name]_[surname]_[month]_[year].
    • More information about digital signing and software here and here

To submit the documents, the progress report and the individual plan have to be entered into the Study Information System (see guidelines here).

The manuscripts have to be forwarded separately, according to the instructions sent by the contact person at the curriculum.

The report covers the fulfilment of the individual study plan during the previous period of study and summarises the progress of doctoral studies as a whole.

If changes have been made compared to the individual study plan, they have to be explained throughout.

I. Studies: courses and ECTS. If courses have been taken outside the UT, the name of the university has to be added.

The core of doctoral studies is research, and this should be done consistently throughout the years of doctoral studies (including in the first year). Courses that support research should also be divided over several years. At the same time, it is not advisable to leave the courses for the last year when you have to focus on finishing and editing the doctoral thesis.

II. Research: content and volume of the research work in ECTS and the result(s), including conferences, publications, etc.

In doctoral studies you need to focus on writing research papers and publishing research results. See how the Faculty’s Procedure of Doctoral Students’ Progress Review describes the assessment of the doctoral student’s research according to academic years.

The review committee assesses the doctoral student’s research in credit points. The optimum (recommended) volume of credit points for research per one academic year is 40 ECTS (if more work has been done, the committee can give more credit points); the standard volume for two studied semesters (for both studies and research) is 60 ECTS in total.

Note that no more than 10 ECTS per academic year are given at the progress review for attending conferences and seminars (including events of graduate schools) (Procedure..., clause 3.3).

III. Other tasks related to doctoral studies: carrying out of grant projects, research themes, cooperation and other projects, etc.

Here report the research projects which you are officially involved in as a research staff, and which are related to your doctoral studies. Specify the tasks related to the project and their connection with your doctoral thesis.

IV. Other: teaching, supervision of theses, participation in the research field-related committees and projects within and outside of the university, etc.

Here report all the activities that are not directly related to research (and neither to studies in section I), e.g.

1) participation in projects that are not related to your research (including, e.g., popularisation of research);
2) supervising and reviewing;
3) (co-)organising events;
4) participation in decision-making bodies and attendance of their meetings.

Note that no more than 6 ECTS per academic year are given for other activities (sections III and IV) at the progress review (Procedure..., clause 3.4).

The progress report must be submitted at least 8 working days before the progress review date.

When will my progress be reviewed?

The progress of the 1st-year doctoral student is reviewed twice:

1) when one studied semester has passed from matriculation, and
2) when two studied semesters have passed from matriculation.

From the 2nd year onwards, the progress of the doctoral student is reviewed once in an academic year, when two studied semesters have passed from the last progress review.

The external doctoral student’s progress is reviewed when two studied semesters from the admission have passed.

Doctoral students’ progress is not reviewed during academic leave (RDS, clauses 43-45).

Progress reviews are held at least twice in an academic year for each curriculum. The dates of progress reviews are confirmed by 1 November (progress review of the autumn semester) and 1 March (progress review of the spring semester) (RDS, clause 42). This means that the progress review of the doctoral student does not take place immediately after s/he returns from academic leave but on the confirmed dates. Until then, stipend is paid according to the decision of the previous progress review.

  • consists of at least three members, including one member from outside the institute/college that manages the curriculum (RDS, clause 46, Procedure..., clause 6.1),
  • the committee members hold a doctoral degree or an equivalent qualification (RDS, clause 46, Procedure..., clause 6.1), if a member of the review committee is the supervisor of a doctoral student to be reviewed, or a connected person for the purposes of the Anti-corruption Act, s/he withdraws from taking the progress review decision on this particular doctoral student (RDS, clause 48, Procedure..., clause 6.3),
  • if the programme director is not a member of the review committee, s/he participates in the review committee meeting with a say (Procedure..., clause. 6.4),
  • for the doctoral student, a reviewer is appointed from among the committee members who comments on the materials submitted by the doctoral student (Procedure..., clause 6.7). Thus, at least one committee member gets more thoroughly acquainted with the doctoral student’s report and manuscripts/articles and gives oral feedback. Other committee members also ask questions about the progress of doctoral studies and give advice and recommendations to the doctoral student.

The progress review meeting is attended by doctoral students and their supervisors.

  • When the supervisor cannot participate, s/he has to submit a written assessment of the doctoral student’s progress in research to the chairperson of the review committee and the doctoral student at latest by the beginning of the progress review meeting.
  • The doctoral student can be absent from the progress review meeting only if s/he has a reasonable excuse. In that case, the doctoral student has to submit an application to the review committee who decides whether to allow the doctoral student to participate by the means of real-time two-way audio-video communication or not to participate in the meeting at all (RDS, clauses 52, 53, Procedure..., clause 8.1).

At the progress review meeting, the review committee assesses the completion of the doctoral curriculum in credit points:

  • the committee considers the credit points received for completion of courses,
  • the committee gives the doctoral student credit points for research (RDS, clauses 40, 41, Procedure..., clause 1),
  • the committee assesses the doctoral student’s participation in the events of graduate schools of the Faculty, which is taken into account as either studies or research (Procedure..., clause 7.4).

Depending on the curriculum, the structure of the progress review meeting can be somewhat different. The rules of procedure of the concrete committee are prescribed by the chairperson of the committee.

The main parts of the meeting:

  • The doctoral student gives an overview of his/her progress report, compares it with the individual study plan and explains the changes made.
  • The reviewer appointed for the doctoral student comments on the materials submitted by the doctoral student.
  • The supervisor gives an assessment of the doctoral student’s progress in research, or a review committee member reads out the supervisor’s written assessment.
  • The doctoral student is questioned, and the committee gives him/her recommendations.
  • The committee discusses behind closed doors how many credit points to give for the completion of the doctoral curriculum.

During the doctoral studies, the doctoral student can get a maximum of 180 ECTS for research, 20 of which are reserved for the defence of the doctoral thesis (Procedure..., clause 10).

To reach timely graduation, the doctoral student has to pay great attention to writing on the research theme, and realistic planning of writing and publication.

General criteria for assessing the doctoral student's research:

  • priority (1): stage of completion of the doctoral thesis,
  • priority (2): publications related to the topic of the doctoral thesis,
    • it is essential to note which research publications qualify for the defence of the doctoral thesis. According to the classification of the Estonian Research Information System, publications 1.1., 1.2., 3.1. qualify. (see RDS, clause 96).
  • additional activities (1): participation in conferences and seminars related to the doctoral thesis. Here the significance of the events and the doctoral student’s contribution are assessed. For these activities, up to 10 ECTS per academic year can be given.
  • additional activities (2): other research activities related to the doctoral thesis, e.g. supervision of graduation theses, participation in research projects, traineeship outside the university. For these activities, up to 6 ECTS can be given per academic year (RDS, clause 41, Procedure..., clause 3).

Assessment of research according to academic years:

Assessment of 1st-year doctoral student’s research:

  • at the progress review at the end of the first semester of the first academic year, the review committee gives up to 20 ECTS, if the student has drawn up at least a detailed plan for conducting research and has completed an elaborate draft of one article or a draft of one chapter of a monograph.
    An elaborate draft of an article is the initial version of the article, not a table of contents or a list of topics. In the draft, the doctoral student explains in detail what he/she is going to write about (incl. theoretical context, list of references).
     
  • at the progress review at the end of the first academic year, the review committee gives up to 20 ECTS, if the student has completed at least one publishable manuscript of a research article or material for a monograph (i.e. research material in a verifiable form) that constitutes at least 1/5 of the planned volume of the thesis (Procedure..., clause 4).

In the first academic year, the article need not be officially admitted for publication by the editorial office.

Assessment of 2nd-year doctoral student’s research:

  • at the progress review, the review committee gives the doctoral student 40 ECTS for annual research, if, by the end of the academic year, the student has completed:
    • at least 1/2 of the monograph or
    • two research articles on the topic of the doctoral thesis which qualify for the defence of the doctoral thesis; one of the articles is a publishable manuscript and the other has been officially accepted for publication by the editorial office (Procedure..., clause 5.1).

Assessment of 3rd-year doctoral student’s research:

  • at the progress review, the review committee gives the doctoral student 40 ECTS for annual research, if, by the end of the academic year, the student has completed:
    • at least 3/4 of the monograph and one research article on the topic of the doctoral thesis which qualifies for the defence of the doctoral thesis and has been officially accepted for publication by the editorial office or
    • two research articles on the topic of the doctoral thesis which qualify for the defence of the doctoral thesis and have been accepted for publication (Procedure..., clause 5.2).

Assessment of 4th-year doctoral student’s research:

  • at the progress review, the review committee gives the doctoral student 40 ECTS for annual research if, by the end of the academic year, the student has completed:
    • the manuscript of the doctoral thesis that can be submitted for defence (Procedure..., clause 5.3).

Official assessment by the review committee:

  • The review committee makes its decision based on the submitted materials and the results of the progress review meeting (feedback by the doctoral student and the supervisor). The voting takes place at a closed meeting.
  • Data protection regulations do not permit the announcement of the review committee’s decision in public without the doctoral student’s prior written consent. 
  • The credit points for research are entered into the Study Information System within four working days (RDS, clause 54, see also Good Practice of Doctoral Studies, clause III.3).
  • In its decision, the review committee gives the doctoral student written feedback (Procedure..., clause 2.2).
  • The doctoral student’s performance stipend is granted according to the proposal of the review committee (for detailed requirements for getting the performance stipend, see here). 

Positive and negative assessments of the progress review

The standard period of study of doctoral curricula is four years and the volume is 240 ECTS (Statutes of Curriculum, clause 40).

To receive a doctoral allowance, the doctoral student must have been positively assessed by the progress review committee and completed at least 75% of the curriculum (full time study). For detailed requirements, see here.

The doctoral student’s performance stipend is granted to the doctoral student who, according to the progress review results, has cumulatively completed 100% of the curriculum (completion of the curriculum for all studied semesters in total). For detailed requirements, see here.

Positive assessment of the doctoral student’s progress review:

  • the doctoral student has completed the curriculum meeting the requirements of at least part-time study (less than 75% but more than 50%),
  • the doctoral thesis has been submitted for defence according to the requirements of the Regulations for Doctoral Studies,
  • by the end of the first semester, the 1st-year doctoral student has completed at least 50% of the individual study plan for the first semester.

Negative assessment of the doctoral student’s progress review:

  • the doctoral student has not met the requirements of the curriculum for part-time study (less than 50%),
  • compared to the individual study plan, the volume of studies and research in the period under review is below 50%.

Positive assessment of the external student’s progress review:

  • at least 50% of the individual study plan has been completed,
  • the doctoral thesis has been submitted for defence according to the requirements of the Regulations for Doctoral Studies.

Negative assessment of the external student’s progress review:

  • less than 50% of the individual study plan has been completed.

The doctoral student’s progress is not reviewed if:

  • the required documents have not been submitted to the review committee by the set date,
  • the student was absent from the review meeting without the review committee’s permission (RDS, clause 57).

Assessments and recommendations concerning the individual study plan:

The first progress review of the 1st-year doctoral student:

  • The review committee has mainly a supportive and advisory function here: it assesses the doctoral student’s activities during the first semester, the further plan of action, time schedule, cooperation with the supervisor and the necessity for a co-supervisor. If necessary, the doctoral student is allowed to revise the individual study plan.
  • The main aim of the doctoral student’s first progress review is to monitor whether doctoral studies have started successfully, whether the doctoral student has enough time to focus on studies according to the initial plan, and how the project of the doctoral thesis is progressing.

From the second progress review of the 1st-year doctoral student onwards:

  • If necessary, the review committee gives the doctoral student recommendations for fulfilling and improving the individual study plan (RDS, clause 55). The committee helps to assess the focus of research and the correspondence between the action plan and the time schedule and “makes recommendations to the doctoral candidate and the supervisor(s) for the successful defence of the doctoral thesis” (Good Practice of Doctoral Studies, clause III.3.11.4).

Assessments and recommendations concerning the publications and the monograph:

  • The review committee has the right to give the doctoral student recommendations for planning his/her activities according to the publication practices and opportunities in his/her speciality.
  • The review committee has the right to assess the quality of the doctoral student’s publications and if these qualify for defence. 
  • The review committee assesses the quality of manuscripts, considering whether they can be published in the submitted form.
  • The review committee assesses the doctoral student’s contribution to articles written in co-authorship. For that, the doctoral student has to describe different authors’ contribution to writing the article in his/her progress report (see RDS, clause 85).

Assessments and recommendations concerning the PhD Study Agreement and the supervision diary:

  • The review committee monitors whether the doctoral student and the supervisor follow the PhD Study Agreement, that is, how their cooperation is functioning (Procedure..., clause 2.1).
  • Cooperation between the supervisor and the doctoral student is reflected by the summaries of supervision appointments (supervision diary) (Procedure..., clause 7.3).
  • The supervision diary is a part of the progress report (Procedure..., clause 7.2) from which the review committee gets a detailed overview of the doctoral student’s progress and activities as well as cooperation with the supervisor.
  • The review committee enables the doctoral student to give feedback on his/her cooperation with the supervisor without the supervisor’s presence (Procedure..., clause 8.2).
  • The review committee enables the supervisor to give feedback on his/her cooperation with the doctoral student without the doctoral student’s presence (Procedure..., clause 8.3).
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On 11 October at 18:15 Ahenkora Siaw Kwakye will defend his doctoral thesis.
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Information for the 1st year doctoral students

This page gives you an overview of the essential things at the beginning of doctoral studies at the University of Tartu.
06.09.2022