PhD Network Netherlands – 2020 Survey


Here you can find all reports based on the PNN PhD Survey 2020. These reports provide insights in the employment conditions and the wellbeing of PhDs in the Netherlands. This survey was the first to investigate PhDs in the Netherlands on a national level.


Survey information, Demographics and COVID-19
Contract characteristics
Supervision and freedom
Non-standard PhD arrangements
Workplace malpractices
Collective Labor Agreement
International PhDs
Open Science,  Recognition and rewards, Career


Graduate Spirit

Graduate SPIRIT is an EU Erasmus+ funded project. The participating partners are nine European graduate schools with a similar profile, among which the Erasmus University Rotterdam (project coordinator).

The project will provide an inventory of best practices in graduate schools with respect to PhD candidates, staff, curriculum and organisation. In addition, the project will test a number of innovations regarding international, interdisciplinary and intersectoral doctoral training.

New publication: Tips and Tricks.

This report is envisioned as a tool to help European graduate schools, staff members, and doctoral students find examples of activities carried out by the project’s consortium partners and study their approaches to foster Triple-I doctoral education. As such, the report gives an overview of best-practices in the field of social sciences and the humanities. Additionally, the collected trips & tricks of the best practices have been transformed into an interactive toolbox, which will be made available on this website in October.

Zürich University – PhD Supervision quality

(2017/2020) Sonneveld, H.  Supervision quality at the Graduate School in Geography and Earth System Science University of ZurichZürich, Switzerland: Graduate School in Geography and Earth System Science.

This report deals with the evaluation of the doctoral working conditions, with a focus on the supervision quality, by the PhD candidates of the Graduate School. Most important findings do concern: expected time to degree, role of teaching during the PhD trajectory, composition of the supervision committee, frequency of meetings with the committee, function of the written supervision agreement, appreciation of the primary supervision, qualities of the supervision the candidates are missing. PhD survey Zürich 2020

Managing change in doctoral education

Slaven Mihaljević, Managing and Leading Change in Higher Education Institutions: The Example of Doctoral Education. Zagreb University, 2019, doctoral thesis.

The aim of the research

Investigating the process of changes in doctoral education at selected European universities and identifying the main factors influencing the results. Multiple case studies  as regards the modernization of doctoral education have been conducted  at four public universities, in Slovenia, Austria, Portugal and Montenegro. The external environment, and the internal organizational culture and structure had a profound impact on the scope, goals, duration and effectiveness of methods used during the process of modernizing doctoral education.

KEYWORDS: Doctoral education; change; change agents; Burke–Litwin model; change management.

Doktorat_Slaven Mihaljević_FINAL

Composition of the Board

President of the board (from March 2020 onwards)

  • Inge van der Weiden. Senior researcher, lecturer and PhD coordinator Center for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS), University of Leiden.

Members of the board (from March 2020 onwards)

  • Gab van Winkel. Researcher and adviser on doctoral education. Division: Corporate Strategy & Accounts, Subdivision Dean of Research Office. Wageningen University.
  • Linda Martens. Policy officer research. Tilburg Law School, Tilburg University.
  • Hannerieke van der Boom. FHML Policy Advisor PhD Affairs, PhD TRACK coordinator & CAPHRI PhD coordinator. Maastricht University.
  • Paul van Dijk. Director Twente Graduate School. University of Twente.
  • Hans Sonneveld. Advisor and researcher with regard to doctoral programs. Former president of the board.

Training of PhD supervisors – evaluation of results

The Netherlands Centre of Expertise for Doctoral Education (NECPO) is organizing a meeting at Tilburg University on Friday 20 September 2019. Topic: exchange of experiences with the professionalization of PhD supervision. We will therefore, among other things, compare existing programs.


A few questions that we would like to address in this regard are the following. Do judgments of PhD students about their supervision give cause to support the PhD supervisors? Which subjects should be part of the programs? What is a realistic set-up in terms of time? Who should provide these programs and how can we determine whether they have an effect?


The registration for the meeting is closed.

Doctoral Project Meetings – a manual

Doing a PhD is a collaboration. Central to this is the PhD candidate, but many other people are involved too. They collaborate with the PhD candidate in order to make it as
successful as possible: supervisors, PhD mentors, and representatives
of the departments and Graduate School. The manual describes the Doctoral Project Meetings of all parties involved.

Throughout the PhD process, the collaboration includes a number of milestones; the mandatory progress meetings. These serve to facilitate and document the research
progress. The meetings are the place to explain things, make plans and evaluate results. Depending on the type of meeting, different people collaborating in a PhD process are involved.

Manual describing the meetings
This manual of the Delft Graduate school of Industrial Design Engineering describes who is present at which meeting, and explains who does what before, during, and after each meeting. And why. In the first year, five meetings serve to ensure that the PhD project gets a strong definition and gets off to a good start. In the later years up to the doctoral defense, there is a yearly progress meeting where the candidate gets feedback on the development of his skills. IDE GS Meeting Manual Sept 2018

Supporting External PhD Candidates

The Netherlands Expertise Centre for Doctoral Education and the Dual PhD Centre of the University of Leiden organize a workshop on supporting external PhD students on Friday October 12, 2018.


We have a large group of PhD students in the Netherlands who are not employed by the university but are still working on a doctoral research project. Although the revenue for the university is the same, these external PhD students often receive little attention and support. Often the supervisors form the only connection with the university and they are scarcely visible on the radar of graduate schools. While graduate schools can have added value for external PhD students too.

Examples of external PhD candidates are: (1) persons who (in addition to their job) work on a doctoral project completely in their own time; (2) persons who are given a limited amount of time, for example 1 day per week, to work in the boss’s time on the dissertation; (3) pensioners working on a doctoral project.

Workshop on External PhD candidates support

In this interactive workshop we pay attention to the question of how universities can optimally support external PhD students. Participants get a picture of the various programs that universities and other organizations in the Netherlands have developed for external PhD students. We report results from research on external PhD candidates. And external PhD students themselves will share their experiences with the participants.


Chairman of the day: Hans Sonneveld

Opening – by Johannes Magliano-Tromp (director of the Dual PhD Center)

The support of external PhD students – by Pieter Slaman (Dual PhD Center)

Experiences of external PhD students – including Jos de Jong & Anita van der Hulst

Research into external PhD candidates – by Inge van der Weijden (CWTS) & The best conditions for an external PhD project – by Hans Sonneveld (Expertise Centre)

Existing programs for external PhD students – Break out sessions
– Kerstin van Tiggelen, Expertise Centrum Buitenpromovendi
– Patty Leijten, Child Development and Education Research Institute, UvA
– Menno Fenger, Dutch School for Public Administration (NSOB)
– Heleen van Luijn, Netherlands Institute for Research and Promotion Supervision

Promising employees: added value? – Panel with employers
– Peter Edelman, Berenschot
– Daniël Meijer, Municipality of Leiden
– Caroline Hamm, Ministry of Defense

Stress among PhD candidates

38% of the PhD candidates at Leiden University are at risk of serious mental health problems. That is concluded by Inge van der Weijden and Ingeborg Meijer after having surveyed 250 PhD candidates and having interviewed twelve of them. Especially young and international candidates are at risk. Whether PhD candidates have an employment contract or not doesn’t affect their mental well-being, neither does autonomy or workload. However, how PhD candidates deal with their workload influences their mental health. This study used the same method as previous research at Flemish universities and found quite similar results. The full policy report is available in English and Dutch.