Every department has a ‘survival guide’, or similar document, where PhD students can find answers to a lot of typical day to day questions. Many PhD students may, however, experience problems or challenges affecting their well-being during their PhD studies. Below, you can find examples of what to do in different situations that previous PhD students have characterised as problematic or difficult to find information about. The answers contain links to relevant websites and references to the rules and guidelines for the graduate school. More questions and answers can be added, so if you have a question you think would benefit other PhD students, please contact PhD Partner, Randi Groslier Bjælde, firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are struggling with personal or academic challenges and feel that they are affecting your work on your PhD project, it is a really good idea to talk about it – especially with your supervisors and/or colleagues. It is helpful to be open and honest about your situation and reflect upon what kind of help and support you need.
Furthermore, on the AU staff portal there is a page on how to prevent and deal with stress. We recommend that you take a closer look at this website and then decide what to do. The possibilities for work related psychological counselling are also mentioned.
As an employee, you are entitled to be absent if you are unable to work as a result of sickness. Hence, if your doctor recommends sick leave (full or part time) you must notify the workplace in accordance with the local guidelines for the specific workplace.
Furthermore, if you wake up sick or have to leave early due to illness, you must also notify the workplace as stated in the local guidelines for the specific workplace.
You can read more about sick leave at this website.
This is a common feeling for PhD students and it actually has a name: imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome or phenomenon is when you don’t think that you are as good as your supervisor/colleagues think you are. We advise you to be open with your supervisor, colleagues and programme chair. The chance that they have experienced something similar at some point in their career is actually quite big and it can help to talk about it.
Psychological counselling is available to all members of AU staff who experience work-related psychological problems. You can either contact AU’s psychological counselling service anonymously or get referral after having a dialogue with your manager. You can find more information here.
PhD students employed by external companies/institutions should contact their place of employment.
If you are enrolled in part A of a flexible PhD programme, find information under counselling services for students.
If you are struggling with a feeling of loneliness, personal or academic, it is a really good idea to talk about it – especially with your supervisors and/or colleagues. It is helpful to be as open and honest about your situation as possible – and to reflect upon what kind of help and support you need to not feel lonely. AU and the individual departments/groups also offer a large variety of social events, so keep an eye on websites and newsletters relevant for you.
The PhD order states that all PhD students must have a change of research environment during their PhD education. At Aarhus BSS Graduate School it is the rule that this must be abroad and for at least 3 continuous months (section 7.2 in the rules and guidelines for the graduate school). If you have any questions regarding this, please contact your supervisor and/or PhD programme chair.
Please remember the following when going abroad: According to the Statement of Terms and Conditions Act (Act no. 501 Lov om ansættelsesbeviser og visse arbejdsvilkår) clause 4.1, employed PhD students must have an addendum to their enrolment and employment letter as soon as they go abroad for four or more consecutive weeks. In order for BSS HR & PhD to draw up the addendum, the PhD student must complete the form regarding a change of environment abroad with a duration of four weeks or more. This form can be found on the "Forms and templates" page under "Change of research environment abroad". The form must be submitted no later than one week before the environmental change starts.
The PhD order states that all PhD students must have a change of research environment during their PhD education. At Aarhus BSS Graduate School it is the rule that this must be abroad and for at least 3 continuous months (section 7.2 in the rules and guidelines for the graduate school). If you for some reason is unable to meet this requirement, you can apply for an exemption. Applications for an alternative to 3 months abroad must include why you ask for an exemption and what you plan to do instead, to meet the requirement for a change of research stay as stipulated in the PhD order. Common reasons to apply for exemption are:
The application must be supported in writing by your supervisor and submitted to the Graduate School by the programme chair, together with their support of the application.
The answer to this is twofold:
Example: your enrolment end date is 31 August, but you finish early and submit your dissertation 23 July. Your enrolment thus ends on the 23 July and your employments ends on 31 July.
Example: your enrolment end date is 19 August, but you finish early and submit your dissertation on 4 August. Your enrolment thus ends on 4 August and your employment ends on 19 August.
The graduate school is not legally obliged to extend the PhD programme on the grounds of illness. However, we do have the authority to grant an extension corresponding to the period of absence during enrolment – subject to documentation showing that this absence has delayed the degree programme. The graduate school deals with all cases individually. Your enrolment/employment can only be extended for the part of your leave that is placed within your period of enrolment/employment. If your enrolment/employment ends during leave, your enrolment and salary payments will stop unless you can resume work full-time no later than the day after the enrolment/employment ended.
The application must be supported in writing by your supervisor and submitted to the graduate school by the programme chair, together with their support of the application. As a rule of thumbs, you must be back to full time work before sending in an application.
See section 6.4 in the rules and guidelines for the graduate school.
In the case of childbirth and parental leave you will be granted an extension if you hand in all the required forms. There are certain rules about the length of the extension, if your enrolment/employment is set to end before you return from leave. Please contact your HR supporter for questions about parental leave.
Employees can find more information and the forms here.
4+4 part A PhD students can find more information and the forms here.
See also section 6.4 in the rules and guidelines for the graduate school.
The application must be supported in writing by your supervisor and submitted to the graduate school by the programme chair, together with their support of the application. The graduate school does not extend the enrolment or employment for any leave of absence held without prior written consent from the graduate school.
See also section 6.4 in the rules and guidelines for the graduate school.
The graduate school is not legally obliged to extend the PhD degree. However, we do have the authority to grant an extension if you for reasons out of your control (special conditions) have been significantly prevented from e.g. collecting data or recruit participants etc. If this is the case you can apply for an extension. The application must contain information on why your project is delayed and how you have tried to make up for the delay by e.g. moving courses, teaching etc. around.
The application must be supported in writing by your supervisor and submitted to the graduate school by the programme chair, together with their support of the application.
Regarding the completion bonus: The agreement on awarding bonuses to PhD fellows at Aarhus BSS states stat the stipulated time of study is regulated for each individual PhD fellow as a result of possible part-time enrolment and approved leaves of absence, regardless of whether these are statutory (e.g. illness and maternity/paternity leave) or individually agreed. Hence, if you have received an extension from the graduate school, your new enrolment end date is the one used to determine if you hand in on time. To be eligible for the completion bonus the PhD degree must be awarded on the basis of the original dissertation submitted, i.e. if the dissertation is resubmitted you are no longer eligible for the completion bonus. You are still eligible for the completion bonus if the assessment committee has recommended certain improvements to be implemented in the dissertation before the defence.
Regarding the publication bonus: The right to a publication bonus is not affected by a resubmission or timely completion.
In both cases, as this is an agreement between the dean and the union representative, the bonus agreement is only for PhD students who have been employed as such at Aarhus BSS during their PhD education.
The agreement on awarding bonuses to PhD fellows at Aarhus BSS can be found here under “further information about”.
According to the PhD order, the assessment committee has the possibility to reject your dissertation if the dissertation is not found suitable for public defence in the submitted version, and revision within a reasonable period of time is not considered possible. In the rare cases that a dissertation is outright rejected, the PhD student and the main supervisor will be given the opportunity to submit comments on the rejection within a period of at least two weeks.
If the dissertation is not found suitable for public defence in the submitted version, the assessment committee may recommend that you will be offered the possibility to resubmit your dissertation. If the assessment committee recommends a resubmission they must specify a deadline for the resubmission and what changes they suggest to improve the dissertation. You will then receive an offer of resubmission from the graduate school. If you accept the offer, you must submit an improved version with in the specified deadline, together with a document detailing the changes made to the dissertation. The assessment process will then start over again.
See section 11.1 in the rules and guidelines for the graduate school.
Please be aware that if your dissertation is subject to resubmission you are no longer eligible to receive the completion bonus, cf. the agreement on awarding bonuses to PhD fellows at Aarhus BSS. The right to a publication bonus is not affected by a resubmission. Only PhD students who were employed as such at Aarhus BSS are eligible to receive the bonuses. The agreement on awarding bonuses to PhD fellows at Aarhus BSS can be found here under “further information about”.
If you have not fulfilled the below mentioned requirements from the PhD order, you have not completed the PhD education and your dissertation cannot be accepted for assessment.
Approximately one month before your enrolment end date your supervisor will be asked to sign a statement declaring whether or not you have fulfilled all the elements of the PhD education satisfactorily. To be able to do this, they use the information you have added to your PhD plan. Furthermore, the graduate school also checks your final PhD plan to make sure you have uploaded all required documents (e.g. pre- and final approvals of courses, course diplomas etc.) and approves your final PhD plan. Your dissertation cannot be sent for assessment before the PhD plan is approved and your supervisor has signed the supervisor statement. This is why the PhD plan is so important to fill out correctly, including required preapprovals of external courses as mentioned above.
According to the PhD order section 7.2 the PhD student is required to fulfill the following requirements during the PhD study:
The graduate school can agree to exemptions to the above in special circumstances (section 7 in the rules and guidelines for the graduate school). A request for an exemption must be sent via email and not as part of plan evaluations. The request must be supported by your supervisor and programme chair and approved by the graduate school. Regarding courses, please be aware of the requirement for preapproval of all external courses, i.e. all courses not offered by a department at Aarhus BSS, Master courses regardless of faculty/university and conferences/workshops.
If you do not submit a dissertation on the enrolment end date specified in your enrolment letter, your enrolment and employment is terminated without further notice. If you know approximately when you expect to submit a dissertation please inform the programme chair and PhD secretary. If you wish to submit a dissertation at a later stage, you should contact your programme chair when you plan to submit. At the point of submission of your dissertation, your education must comply with the PhD Order in force at the time of submission. Hereafter the normal procedure for assessment of a dissertation will be followed.
Please be aware that according to the agreement on awarding bonuses to PhD fellows at Aarhus BSS you are only eligible for the completion bonus if you hand in your dissertation on time and the assessment committee finds the dissertation suited for public defence in the original submitted version, i.e. not if the dissertation is resubmitted. Only PhD students employed at Aarhus BSS are eligible for the bonus. The agreement on awarding bonuses to PhD fellows at Aarhus BSS can be found here under “further information about”.
Aarhus University aims to promote an open dialogue about the work environment employees experience on a daily basis, including issues related to workload, stress and well-being. Aarhus University has a zero-tolerance policy in relation to bullying, harassment, threats and violence.
AU’s staff policy: Work Environment
Management is responsible for ensuring and developing a good work environment. They do so in close collaboration with the occupational health and safety and liaison committee organization. All employees are expected to contribute to and participate actively in promoting well-being and ensuring a good work environment. Hence, you are always welcome to reach out to your occupational health and safety representative (and/or your programme chair) if you experience any problematic issues in relation to the work environment. This is also the case if you can offer new ideas about improving the work environment. You can find your local representative here.
You can read more about the occupational health and safety at Aarhus BSS here.
If you wish to change your supervisor(s), we recommend that you have a dialogue about the reasons for the change with your supervisor(s) and/or programme chair. If it is decided that a change of supervisor(s) is needed, the programme chair will contact the graduate school.
Please be aware that a change in main supervisor can only be approved under special circumstances and must be approved by the graduate school head, whereas a change in co-supervisor or the addition of an extra co-supervisor can be done by agreement with the programme chair.
See also section 10.4 in the rules and guidelines for the graduate school.
If you continuously experience problems or issues in your working relationship with your PhD supervisor, you have the option of discussing it with your PhD programme chair or contacting the graduate school, who will work with you to find a solution. If it is not possible to resolve the problem in this way, switching to a different supervisor could be an option.
If someone behaves in an offensive, discriminating, or inappropriate way towards you, even though you have let the other person know that you find their behavior inappropriate, you can contact your PhD supervisor, programme director or manager for help and support; they will help you handle the situation.
AU has guidelines to help staff members deal with situations involving inappropriate or offensive behavior. If you are a PhD student employed by the university, find out more about these guidelines here.
If you are enrolled in part A of a flexible PhD programme, you can also find information here.
If you are in a situation involving threats to freedom of research or responsible conduct of research, you can contact one of the university’s research conduct advisers. You can discuss the nature and severity of the problem with an adviser, who will help you decide on what course of action to take to address it.
Find more information here.
To avoid problematic issues regarding authorship we highly recommend that you align your expectations with your possible co-authors or research collaboration partners before or very early on in the work process. Should you still experience problems you are very welcome to contact your programme chair or one of the university’s advisors on responsible conduct of research. You can discuss the nature and severity of the problem with an adviser, who will help you decide on what course of action to take to address it.
Find more information here.