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Under the terms of the Higher Education Ordinance, every PhD student is entitled to supervision for the duration of their studies. PhD students in clinical subjects are also entitled to supervision while they are engaged in the clinical activities required by their programme.

Supervisor requirements

All PhD students must have a principal supervisor and at least one assistant supervisor. As principal supervisor, the Departmental Board or the Departmental Chairperson may assign a person at the Faculty of Medicine who has been admitted as Docent or who is the principal recipient of a three-year project grant. In cases where the principal supervisor is not a Docent, then one of the assistant supervisors must be a Docent. The principal supervisor must be active within Lund University or SUS, or have another clear connection to the Faculty of Medicine. All supervisors must have a PhD degree, and have completed a recognised supervisor course.

If the principal supervisor reaches retirement age during the PhD student’s study period, then a assistant supervisor with Docent status, supervision training and financing should be tied to the project.

Appointing a supervisor

The Postgraduate Education Committee makes the formal decision regarding the principal supervisor and, if relevant, an assistant supervisor, when the PhD student is admitted. It is possible to change supervisor at a later stage. Applications to change supervisor are made to the Postgraduate Education Committee who will decide in the matter. The application must be signed by all parties involved. The right to change supervisors is included in the Higher Education Ordinance.

The Postgraduate Education Committee has decided that the supervisor may not be related to/in a close relationship with the PhD student, nor may such relationships exist between supervisors who supervise the same PhD student.

Adequate support

At the Faculty of Medicine, supervisors must devote a minimum of 100 hours to supervising a PhD student. How that time is allocated should be linked to the PhD student’s needs and activity level, as well as what stage of the programme they are in. Supervisory hours include the time that the supervisor and PhD student spend on the PhD student’s education, e.g. research project and courses. Supervisory hours also include time spent reviewing work and planning the thesis defence. Supervisory time should be divided among the primary and assistant supervisors. The primary supervisor and the PhD student should review, and if necessary update, the individual study plan at least once a year.

Contact between the supervisor and PhD student can sometimes be problematic, and the PhD student may feel they are not receiving enough support. Other issues may arise as a result of the supervisor spending time in another city, or changes jobs. In situations where the PhD student feels that supervision has been lacking, they can seek help and advice from the head of department, or deputy head in charge of PhD studies.

An acting principal supervisor should be appointed if the principal supervisor becomes unavailable for an extended period due to sickness, placement at another location etc.

The supervisor's responsibilities

  • Add the PhD project to the relevant database.
  • Participate in the formulation of the student's individual study plan. The study plan must state which project the PhD student will be working on, as well as the literature and courses the PhD student must complete.
    • The study plan must describe the research programme using the following headings: Objectives, Background, Preliminary Results, Planned Research and Relevance. 
  • Ensure that the student acquires the knowledge specified in the individual study plan.
  • Ensure that the department provides the student with adequate resources for the realization of their research project.
  • Facilitate the student's participation in relevant postgraduate courses, symposia and conferences.
  • Be supportive, encouraging and available for consultations with the student to the extent indicated in the study programme. It is advisable to expedite the student's integration into the department by arranging seminars at which the student presents his/her work from the outset and at regular intervals thereafter.
  • Assume responsibility for keeping the student informed about opportunities for financial support (stipends, study grants, PhD studentships, research opportunities connected with nursing and health care employment, etc) that may be available both at the time of admission and throughout the PhD programme.
  • Ensure that the research progresses at a reasonable rate so that it will be concluded within the time stipulated; the best way to achieve this is through close and continuous involvement in the research project.
  • Initiate the halfway review process and be responsible for its completion.
    determine when the student’s research has reached the level required for a PhD thesis. The primary responsibility for determining when the research meets the requirements of an academic thesis, in terms of both scope and quality, lies with the supervisor.
  • Propose a faculty opponent and members of the examining committee, attend the examining committee’s meeting, and participate in its deliberations.

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