Every Rule has a Reason Report 2015

Photo's by Wieke Eefting

Photo: Wieke Eefting

Discussing PhD Dilemmas with Deans and Fellow PhD Candidates

On 26 January, the University Council and Pout organized a discussion evening about various dilemmas PhD candidates can encounter during their PhD. More than 75 PhD candidates from all faculties of our university entered into a conversation with the rector magnificus and various deans and vice-deans about these dilemmas during a PhD track.

During his speech, rector magnificus Bert van der Zwaan mentioned that the actual rules not up for debate. These rules are determined solely by the Board for the Conferral of Doctoral Degrees, which operates autonomously without interference from any other body within the university.


However, discussing the rules themselves was not the purpose of this event. The emphasis laid on the dilemmas induced by said rules, and on how a PhD candidate can deal with them. Can you include a co-authored paper in your dissertation? To what extend does the defense matter towards obtaining a doctorate? How do you divide your time between your research, education and boards?


The diversity of the PhD candidates present turned out to be of particular significance. Some dilemmas  are more prevalent or consequential in certain disciplines. Questions concerning journal ratings or impact factors are of less importance in the humanities, where monographs are more common. However, in the end there are questions which apply to every PhD candidate; do I submit to a journal with a higher impact factor although that costs me more time while my contract is about to end? Is it even possible to schedule your publications when the entire PhD track is subject to continuous change? Is there a difference on how 3 year or 5 year PhD tracks are rated?

Dissertation rules

Most of the dilemmas originated from interpretation or communication about the doctoral degree regulations. One frequently had to resort to consulting these regulations. The majority of the PhD candidates was of the opinion that, due to this discussion evening, they have a better understanding of the rules.