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Support groups

As a PhD student at the Department of Computer Science at Aarhus University, you get assigned a "support group" ("følgegruppe" in Danish), provided by the department, as a supplement to your daily adviser(s). The main purpose of the support group is to give feedback on the PhD work to help you reach your full potential as PhD student, and to ensure that any obstacles that may arise are overcome as smoothly as possible. At the same time we wish to build on the PhD school's biannual evaluation system to make that a useful tool for the PhD students in the collaboration with advisers and the PhD school.

The following topics are typically discussed at the support group meetings:

  • progress, problems, and plans for your research project
  • considerations about teaching and course work
  • planning stays abroad, participation at summer schools, workshops, conferences, etc.
  • collaboration, for example about writing research papers, with your adviser or others

Each PhD student has a support group that consists of two members from the permanent scientific staff at Computer Science, whereof one is also a member of the local PhD committee. Both support group members are from a different research group than the student, and are assigned by the PhD committee chair.

After the student has prepared the initial PhD plan when joining the PhD school, and subsequently twice a year, the support group will invite the student for a discussion about progress, plans, and potential problems. The adviser does not participate in these meetings. The support group representative from the PhD committee will take the initiative to the meetings, but the student is welcome to contact either member of the support group at any time.

The support groups have professional secrecy (tavshedspligt). Still, in situations where problems are discussed, for example related to the collaboration with the adviser, it may be natural that others are involved, of course only with your full consent, to be able to resolve the issue in question. The PhD committee meets regularly to follow up on more general problems and opportunities that are encountered at the biannual evaluations and support group meetings.

An opportunity for feedback - not another exam

It is important that the support group meetings are not thought of as a kind of exam like the qualifying exam but rather as opportunities to get feedback from CS researchers outside the student's own research group.

All PhD students are encouraged to use their support groups actively, not only in connection with the half-yearly evaluations and in situations where problems arise, but also in case of questions about project planning and how to work as a productive PhD student in general.

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