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Support Groups

As a PhD student at the Department of Geoscience at Aarhus University, you get assigned a "support group" ("følge- eller mentorgruppe" 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 to help PhD students reach the full potential as a scientist, and to ensure that any obstacles that may arise are overcome as smoothly as possible.

The following topics are typically discussed at support group meetings:

  • progress, plans and challenges for your research project
  • considerations about teaching and course work
  • workload
  • 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 Geoscience, 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, 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 and these will be coordinated with half-year evaluations within the PhD school system. Also, 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 but rather as opportunities to get feedback from geoscience 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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