Support to doctoral students

There are various kinds of support function for doctoral students at Karolinska Institutet (KI).

The supervisors

The principal supervisor has an overarching responsibility for the supervision and for the implementation of the research project.

Co-supervisor(s) shall above all complement the scientific expertise that exists within the project but can also support the doctoral student in other ways. 

The division of roles in the supervisor group and the scope of each supervisor's assignment is stated in the individual study plan (ISP). It is important that the ISP is updated if the conditions change.

Doctoral supervisors at KI are required to take a professional approach.   This means ensuring that all doctoral education including research that is planned and executed is of a high standard and realistic in scope. Supervisors are expected to make themselves available to their students, to be clear and consistent in their supervision, and to critically review the results obtained. 

Supervisors are always required to promote equal treatment by taking a firm stand against all forms of discrimination and harassment and to be fully familiar with the rules and conditions of doctoral education. It should be reported to the manager of the supervisor in case a supervisor does not follow these rules of conduct. The doctoral student can even contact the departments director of doctoral studies, the doctoral students’ ombudsperson or use the incidence reporting system (see the headings below).

A supervisor can also be the doctoral student's manager, and thereby have a formal responsibility for the work environment, but that is not always the case. See “Responsible for work environment” below.

Read more about supervision, e.g. requirement to appoint supervisors and changing supervisor.

Directors of doctoral studies

The directors of doctoral studies at the departments  can support doctoral students with information on matters such as admissions, individual study plans, credit transfer, half-time review, degree requirements, supervision etc. as well as on problems or conflicts should they arise. Directors of doctoral studies can also assist with support in case of conflicts and play an important part in following up the students’ academic progress.

Administrators for doctoral education

The administrators for doctoral education at the departments can provide the students with information and practical administrative support and advice, for example regarding admissions, individual study plans, credit transfer, half-time procedures and thesis defence/degree requirements.


Each student has one or more mentors to supplement the input of the supervisors. The mentor shall act as a bridge from the doctoral student to the world outside the direct research environment, as well as being an independent asset for discussions.

The mentor can support doctoral students seeking advice from an independent person on, for example, career planning or contact with sectors outside KI.

Visit the Doctoral Student Association's virtual meeting place to get help to find i suitaable mentor within or outside of academia.

The Doctoral Students’ Ombudsperson

The student and doctoral students’ ombudspersons are independent experts employed by the Medical Students’ Union (Medicinska Föreningen) to support the doctoral students. The ombudspersons work under complete confidentiality, unless explicitly told otherwise by the doctoral student that seeks advice.

Central director of doctoral studies

The central director of doctoral studies/coordinator Ingeborg van der Ploeg can be contacted for advice on matters requiring central support, such as those relating to the student-supervisor relationship. 

Occupational health and counselling helpline

Avonova offers preventive and rehabilitative occupational health services for doctoral students who are employed at KI or scholarship-holders.

Doctoral students (both employed at KI and scholarship-holders) may also call the counselling helpline operated by Falck Healthcare, whose experienced consultants give advice on work-related psychosocial issues and private matters of a legal or financial nature.

Responsible for the work environment

All doctoral students at KI are affiliated to a KI department. The form of affiliation may differ depending on if you are employed at the department, employed by another employer (for example Region Stockholm or a company) or if you lack employment and is financially supported by scholarships/stipends.

Regardless of the form of affiliation, KI has a responsibility for your work and study environment. If you are an employed doctoral student, your immediate manager/boss (sometimes is your manager also your supervisor) has a delegated responsibility for personnel and work environment and have tasks that they must fulfill. If you have another employer than KI, the work environment responsibility is shared between KI and your employer.

If you are unsure who to contact regarding work and study environment issues, contact HR at your department. 

Here is information gathered regarding Work environment and health.

Safety representatives and Student safety representatives

Safety representatives and Student safety representatives have the mission to watch over and work for good working conditions (physical, organisational and social). They collaborate with managers and doctoral students, but they are not responsible for taking measures etc.

The Student safety representatives represents all students (including doctoral students) at their departments. 

Doctoral students with an employment at KI may also discuss work environment issues with a local safety representative at the department. Ask the Work environment group at the department whom to contact.

Here is information gathered regarding Work environment and health.

Report an incident

Anyone who has experienced an irregular or unlawful situation or who wants to draw attention to a risk at work can report this through KI's incident reporting system. Submitting can also be anonymous. Examples of incidents are sexual harassment as well as a work accident.

The more we get to know, the more effectively we can act, and the better placed we will be to make KI a safer, more secure and more sustainable workplace. 

Equal opportunities and the Discrimination Act

KI's work on equal opportunities is based on the Discrimination Act (2008:567). The law states, for example, that universities and health and medical care provider are obliged to investigate alleged harassment and discrimination as well as work to work preventively. There are seven grounds of discrimination: gender, transgender identity or expression, ethnicity, religion or other belief, disability, sexual orientation or age. Doctoral students are covered by the Discrimination Act.

More information about KI's work on equal opportunities.

Studying with disabilities

Information about studying with disabilities and how you apply for special support

Career Service

KI's Career service offers activities and information to help doctoral students build a career.

International staff services

KI’s International staff services gives practical information to overseas students on residence permits, Swedish courses for doctoral students and other such matters.

More information for logged in staff

There is more information for those of you working in the following groups

  • H5.Department of Laboratory Medicine
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