The procedure to start a PhD trajectory is as follows.
Application including the formulation of your research question
You apply for becoming an external PhD by using the application form.
In this form you make a preliminary formulation of the problem you want to investigate.
- You formulate your research question as concretely as possible your research question (max 20 words). This is the provisional work title of your research project.
- You describe the problem you want to investigate and how you think your research will contribute to its solution (max 300 words). In this description you indicate what the problem is, what you want to investigate to solve the problem and how you want to do this research (e.g. experimental, design based, laboratory studies).
- You indicate in which research programme and research theme you think your research question fits.
Evaluation of your application
The CELSTEC research coordinator, prof. dr. P. Kirschner, will read and evaluate your application with respect to whether
- you have the right prerequisite schooling and knowledge
- your research question fits into CELSTEC's research programme/theme and
- your research question is sufficiently concrete to serve as a basis for a preliminary conversation with him or one of the other CELSTEC professors
You will possibly be asked to make your research question more concrete, or to adjust your question so as to fit the programme better. If the evaluation is positive and the research question is sufficiently concrete, you will be invited for a preliminary conversation (intake) with the research coordinator or the professor who is - considering the research question - the most likely future PhD supervisor.
At the intake, you will meet a representative of the research programme. One of the goals of the intake is to determine whether there is a good match between the research programme and the research that you want to do. If there is a match, you will be asked to elaborate your research question into a full research proposal. A staff member of CELSTEC will support you in this process.
You will elaborate the research question into a full research proposal (in English). Generally this takes about six months. The research proposal contains the research question, a problem definition, the research methodology, the scientific (theoretical) justification and background of your research, the expected scientific output, its practical use, references, and a cost estimate.
An example of a research proposal
This research proposal should be approved by the PhD supervisor, the chair of the CELSTEC research programme in which it will be carried out, an external expert commission and the CELSTEC management team. The actual PhD trajectory begins only after formal approval . This trajectory is not without obligations on both sides.
Therefore you and CELSTEC will draft an individual Education and Supervision Plan and a PhD contract that both will sign. If applicable your employer and your daily supervisor will also sign this contract.
The contract can contain agreements on for example:
- the goals of the research, the PhD supervisor (s), the duration of the trajectory, the milestones, and the moments and method of midterm evaluation;
- the amount of time that you, as external PhD, will invest in your research project in the coming years;
- the amount of time your supervisors will invest in your guidance and supervision in the coming years;
- the facilities that the Open Universiteit will make available to you;
- the obligations of the Open Universiteit, the PhD candidate and if relevant his/her employer;
- the fee the PhD candidate has to pay for the (obligatory) courses, workshops etc;
- agreements on intellectual property;
- agreements on confidentiality;
- et cetera.
The contract will be signed by the external PhD candidate, the PhD supervisor and the dean of CELSTEC or his mandated replacement. If relevant your employer will be asked to co-sign the contract. This is relevant, for example, if you want to carry out the research (partly) at your workplace, or if your employer allows you to do your research (partly) during working hours. This way you and CELSTEC will have a guarantee that the research can be carried out and completed.
Example of an individual Education and Supervision Plan
A detailed description of the PhD trajectory can be found in the CELSTEC PhD guide.