Annual follow-up

The progress of the doctoral education must be followed-up regularly so that the degree outcomes are achieved by the time of public defence.

Översikt forskarutbildning

Purpose 

The purpose of the annual follow-up is that the doctoral student and the supervisor(s):

  • Discuss and review the progress in research and educational activities.
  • Follow-up the progress in achieving learning outcomes.
  • Review the doctoral project in relation to the time plan and make updates if needed.
  • Identify problematic issues and discuss relevant actions, including informing the study director about these.

When?

The individual study plan (ISP) and the student’s progression must be followed-up every year regardless of study activity. Note that a follow-up always should follow a half-time review. 

The ISP-system will automatically notify the doctoral student and the principal supervisor via e-mail when it is time for the annual update. If a new version has not been created after 2 months, the director of doctoral studies at the department will be notified.

How? 

Doctoral students with a digital individual study plan 

  1. The doctoral student and principal supervisor book a meeting (co-supervisors and mentor can also be invited). 
  2. The principal supervisor creates a new version of the individual study plan (ISP)
  3. Check if the information from Ladok (courses, financial support, study activity) is correct. 
  4. Update the study plan, for example:  
    • Section 4: Delete the planned courses and learning activities when they are completed 
    • Section 5: If a mentor has been appointed 
    • Section 6: Status for each sub-study 
    • Section 10: Completed activities for each degree outcome (section 10)
  5. The annual follow-up is performed.
    • The doctoral student and principal supervisor review and update the study plan (see checklist below) 
    • Both approve the new version
    • The study director reviews the changes, and establish the new ISP version  

Doctoral students without a digital individual study plan 

Doctoral students with an individual study plan (ISP) as a paper/word document should during 2021 transfer it to the digital system in conjunction with the annual follow-up or the half-time seminar.

[Those planning their thesis defence during 2021 or spring 2022 can choose if they want to digitalize their ISP or not. If they choose not to, form 4 is used to document the annual follow-up]

  1. The doctoral student and principal supervisor book a meeting (co-supervisors and mentor can also be invited). 

    Transferring existing study plan:
  2. The principal supervisor creates a new version of the individual study plan (ISP)
  3. The doctoral student fills in the digital study plan based on the content of their existing ISP and documentation from earlier annual follow-ups. Note that information in Ladok will be uploaded automatically. 
  4. Upload required documents.

    Annual follow-up is performed:
  5. The study plan is reviewed and updated (see checklist below). Note that all comments, updates and revisions are made directly in the system (form 4 is not used). You can clarify and comment in:
    • The comment boxes 
    • Section 8 Comments
    • Message log: Write comments to the study director here. These will not be visible in the established study plan
    • The comment box under section 7 Follow-up meetings
  6. The doctoral student and supervisor approve
  7. The study director reviews and establishes the new individual study plan. 

Checklist for annual follow-up meetings

Degree outcomes (section 10) 

Before a degree can be issued, all the intended degree outcomes must be achieved. Therefore, all activities a doctoral student takes part in should have learning purpose and contribute to reaching the degree outcomes.

Discuss the different intended degree outcomes:

  • How far is it until the doctoral student has achieved each outcome/objective?  
  • Is any outcome already achieved?
  • Which outcomes should the doctoral student focus especially on?

Go through and discuss planned and completed activities: 

  • Need for revision?  
  • Are you happy with planned courses, conferences, seminars (compare with information under section 4)
  • Does the doctoral student get enough practice in communicating science? National and international? With other scientists as well as with other groups?  
  • Possibilities for visits in research groups abroad? Are there travel grants to be applied for? 
  • Possibilities for teaching? 
  • How can the outcomes regarding interaction with the society be achieved?   

Read here about the degree outcomes and how they can be achieved

Time plan and financial support (section 3)

A doctoral education should be equivalent to 4 years full-time studies. Discuss if the workload is reasonable to be finished on time.

  • Are the timing of half-time review and the public defence still valid and reasonable? Revise if needed.
  • Is the planned study activity correct? Revise if needed. 

If financial or employment situation has changed: 

  • Is the information in the ISP correct (planned financial support)? Revise if needed. Note that it is only the principal supervisor that can revise this information. 

    If the situation has changed substantially, it might be needed to draw up a new financial plan. In those cases, the Director of doctoral studies and the Head of the department must be informed. When a new financial plan is signed it should be uploaded as a document in the ISP. 

Courses and other educational activities (section 4)

Look at planned and completed courses and activities.

  • Based on the discussion regarding degree outcomes: Does the plan for remining courses need revising? 
  • Have you remembered all obligatory courses? Compare with the general syllabus.
  • What remains? 
  • Does the plan for the other educational activities need revising?

Supervision (section 5)

Talk about the expectations of each other, both the doctoral student and supervisors. 

  • How often do you meet for discussing the research project? Is it often enough? 
  • Are the responsibilities and contributions correctly described?
  • How does the supervisor group work? Is it clear within the group how the responsibilities are shared? 
  • Need for an additional co-supervisor?

Revise if needed. Note that this section can only be edited by the principal supervisor, not the doctoral student. If changes are made regarding supervisor roles or responsibilities it must be assured that the co-supervisors are informed (all co-supervisors have read-only access to the ISP) 

Doctoral project (section 6)

Talk about the progress of the research project. Open the uploaded document Research plan during this discussion.

  • Are the research questions and hypotheses still valid? 
  • What have been done so far? 
  • Does the project follow the research plan? Have major surprises appeared, and if so, how have they been handled? 
  • How much work remains? Is there time enough do complete within the time frame?  If not – why? 
  • Do you, the doctoral student, need more help, and if so what kind of help do you need and by whom?
  • Do the preliminary results correspond to the expected results? 
  • Do you have a plan for which papers each subproject will lead to? Who will be co-authors? How will/do co-authors take part in the writing process?
  • Need for additional ethical permits?

If the research plan need revision: upload the new research plan document to the system. Make notes in 6.7 about which changes that had been made. 

Remaining sections of the study plan

In connection with annual follow-up, the following is also checked / revised in the digital ISP system:

  • Basic information (section 1-2)
    Check that all information is correct.
  • Follow-up meetings (section 7)
    Write date and describe briefly the most important issues raised at the meeting.
    It is possible to here make plans for other type of meetings and follow-ups.  
  • Comments (section 8)
    If the doctoral student or the supervisor have any additional comments to the study plan. 
  • Ethical permits (section 9)
    Make sure that the information is correct and update if any new ethical permits have been issued. 
  • Documents (section 11)
    Upload any new relevant documents, for example:
    • Ethical permits
    • Revised research plan
    • Half-time report and half-time review form 
    • Published papers  
    • Notification of accepted manuscripts 
    • Revised research plan
    • Decision of appointing new supervisor (form 15) 
    • For doctoral students transferring their ISP from paper to digital: The previous individual study plan (paper document) 
  • Message log
    It is important to use this log to communicate with the study director. Here you can make him/her aware of updates you have done. If any major problems/issues have arised, contact the study director separately and ask for a meeting.

Other follow-ups of doctoral education

Half-time review

The half-time review is an important follow-up activity, where the doctoral student gets feed-back from experienced researchers outside the research group. More information here.

Meeting with the Director of doctoral studies

In connection to the first annual follow-up the doctoral student shall be offered a meeting with the department's Director of doctoral education. This can take place individually or in a group. The aim is to identify any possible uncertainty, to ensure that the doctoral education is proceeding according to plan, and to establish contact between the Director of doctoral education and the doctoral student.

Activity report 

Twice a year the doctoral student fills in an activity report, where study activity and source of income/employment is reported. 

More information about reporting study activity and source of income

Performance management dialogues

All employees at KI have two performance management dialogues with their manager each year. Doctoral students who are employed at KI may have the first of the two dialogues, but this is not mandatory.

Continuous follow-up

Besides the formalised follow-up activities described above, the doctoral student and his/her supervisors have of course ongoing communication and follow-up meetings (as described under section 5 in the ISP).

Questions

Doctoral students with questions regarding the annual follow up should contact the supervisor or director of doctoral studies ("studierektor") at their home department.

For questions regarding the digital ISP-system, see https://staff.ki.se/isp-support