The conduct of a research project by PhD students is central to ASCoR’s PhD programme. A research project is based on a proposal that is usually written by one or more senior ASCoR faculty, but in some cases by the PhD candidate him/herself. In all cases the project conforms to the following criteria:
A PhD project usually takes 4 years full-time and leads up to an article-based dissertation. The dissertation consists of 3 or more research studies, deemed to be with quality equivalent to peer-reviewed academic publications within Communication Science. In addition to writing articles, ASCoR PhD students also follow courses to broaden their knowledge, have the opportunity to visit (inter)national conferences and attend relevant workshops and symposia.
The PhD training program at ASCoR consists of three learning pathways: a Teaching Pathway, Research Pathway, and Personal Development Pathway. All of these pathways contain mandatory components which can be complemented, if desired by the candidate, with additional elective training.
Mandatory components of the Research and Personal Development Pathways together encompass 9 ECTS. To obtain these ECTS, PhDs have to complete the courses “Mastering my PhD”, “Introduction to a PhD in Communication Science”, and “Academic Writing”. In addition, they will participate in one of ASCoR’s PhD clubs (i.e., a place for peer feedback and support) and attend several other, mandatory events. The Teaching Pathway consists of 54 hours of teacher training plus didactic coaching offered by the department.
In addition, the training program contains an elective component as part of which PhD candidates can, for instance, take elective courses at the Graduate School of Communication or faculty, attend a summer school, or go on a research visit.
Progress of all PhD projects at ASCoR is monitored at several points during the project through the following instruments:
The basic work plan, agreements about supervision, and the training plan are laid down in the Training & Supervision Plan 2 months after the start of the PhD project.
Nine months after the formal start of the PhD project, a paper must be ready and submitted to the ASCoR Board for a formal assessment. The paper is either an empirical article or a theoretical review article and the quality of the article should be such that the article can comfortably be submitted to those outlets that are well-recognized in the particular sub-area.
In the Progress Report, the PhD candidate and the supervision team report on the progress so far, and indicate whether and how successful completion of the project before the project end date can be guaranteed. The report consists of an outline of the dissertation, an overview of progress so far of all thesis chapters, an overview of papers that have resulted from the project so far, and a 'statement of feasibility' that the dissertation can and will be submitted a number of months before the project end date.
The final months of each project are devoted to finishing the PhD thesis, which is based on the articles written throughout the project. After the dissertation has been read and approved by a committee of experts, there is a public defense, held at the University of Amsterdam.