A trusting relationship between doctoral researchers and their supervisors is essential for a successful doctorate. The Graduate Academy Leipzig establishes meaningful standards for this through supervision agreements.

enlarge the image: A supervision agreement at the beginning of the doctorate defines the rights and obligations of all persons involved. Photo: Katrin Bemmann
A supervision agreement at the beginning of the doctorate defines the rights and obligations of all persons involved. Photo: Katrin Bemmann

Standards for Doctoral Supervision

An open, fair and transparent approach by all those involved in the doctoral process will ensure a good basis right from the start. All agreements and stipulations as well as the rights and obligations of the doctoral researchers and the supervisors are recorded in a supervision agreement. The Leipzig University's statutes on safeguarding good scientific practice explicitly recommend the conclusion of a supervision agreement for all doctoral researchers.

The Graduate Academy Leipzig provides a template for a supervision agreement. This is based on the DFG's recommendations for drawing up supervision agreements.

A supervision agreement should at least include the following aspects. Depending on the needs, these can vary in weighting or be supplemented by further aspects so that individual needs are taken into account:

  • Supervisors
  • Working title
  • Time and work plan (incl. goals and milestones) or its further development
  • Tasks and duties of the doctoral researchers: regular reporting obligations (performance records, participation in the qualification programme, continuing scientific education, etc.), regular submission of partial results
  • Tasks and duties of supervisors: regular expert advice, support for early academic independence, career promotion/mentoring, quality assurance (regular progress checks, etc.)
  • Resources provided (e.g. access to laboratories, consumables, infrastructure)
  • Publication of preliminary results
  • Funding for publications and conference participation
  • Rules of good scientific practice
  • Procedures in cases of conflict
  • Time resources and freedom for the doctorate
  • Advice on career prospects
  • Integration into the scientific community
  • compatibility of family and career

The supervision agreement should be signed by all supervisors and the doctoral researcher. It must be ensured that supervision agreements can be terminated by either party within the framework of a transparent procedure.

Doctoral researchers who wish to become members of the Graduate Academy Leipzig have to conclude a supervision agreement.

Rights and Obligations

All those involved have different rights and obligations that are defined in the supervision agreement:

The supervisor commits to supervising the doctoral project until its completion, regardless of the duration of funding. The supervisor will oversee the doctoral candidate's teaching activities and discuss career perspectives with the doctoral researcher. They will support the doctoral researcher in creating a balance between family life and academic career advancement.

Each year, the supervisor will draft a statement to be included with the doctoral researcher's report on the progress they have made with their doctorate. The report and statement serve as the basis for a joint conversation with the doctoral researcher and mentors. Brief minutes of the conversation will be taken, which will be signed by all parties. The joint evaluation may lead to an alteration of the work and time schedule.

The supervisor will establish a work and time schedule with the doctoral researcher and will request regular updates on the progress of the doctoral project.

The doctoral researcher, together with their supervisor, will establish a work and time schedule for the doctoral project. The central focus of the doctorate should be on independent academic work.

The doctoral researcher agrees to provide both their supervisor and mentor with regular updates on the specifics of their progress. In the supervision agreement the parties agree on a specific reporting cycle.

If there are mentors available, they will meet with the doctoral researcher at least once a year and will be available to meet additional times to discuss the doctoral project. They will keep an eye on the quality of supervision as well as the doctoral candidate's research environment and will provide assistance in solving any problems that arise with the supervisor.

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