Support for PhD students

What academic support is available for PhD students?

At the VUB, PhD students do not have to follow courses or take examinations, as they are evaluated purely on the quality of their research output. However, having a solid education in one or more academic fields does not yet make you into an effective researcher, and many otherwise intelligent and knowledgeable people struggle with the many uncertainties and responsibilities that go with the position of a PhD student. As a result, only some 40% of registered VUB PhD students eventually succeed in getting their degree (which is anyway better than 33% success rate for all Flemish universities).

Therefore, the VUB organizes a variety of support activities including optional courses that teach practical skills for researchers/PhD students, such as writing scientific papers in English, preparing presentations, or searching for bibliographic information. Since many of these courses are very popular you need to register ASAP or put yourself on the waiting list...

Another important way to learn scientific skills is to participate in research seminars, where you can listen to other researchers' ideas, ask questions, or present your own work, so as to get feedback from the others present. This also allows you to meet peers who are struggling with similar problems like you, so that you can support each other. Both the VUB PhD assistance program and ECCO regularly organize such seminars, in which PhD students are normally supposed to participate. Also, it is recommended for PhD students to regularly participate in international conferences on the subjects that interest them, so as to make contacts with colleagues working on the same topic, learn about the latest work in the field, and get international scientific experience.

Finally, ECCO intends to provide concrete guidelines on its website on how to tackle the most common problems that researchers are confronted with, such as how to gather information, organize your ideas, write and publish papers and theses, or submit proposals for funding.

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