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Supervise a PhD student

All doctoral students at the Faculty of Medicine must have both a main supervisor and at least one assistant supervisor.

The Research Studies Board formally decides on supervisors and assistant supervisors in conjunction with a PhD student’s admission to the doctoral programme.

Requirements for principal supervisor and assistant supervisor

Main supervisors at the Faculty of Medicine must:

  • have completed a doctoral degree,
  • be appointed as an unremunerated docent or principal recipient of a three-year project grant from a national or international funding body,
  • be active at Lund University, Skåne University Hospital (SUS) or have another clear connection to the Faculty of Medicine, and
  • have completed supervisor training approved by the faculty.

If the main supervisor is not at least an associate professor, the assistant supervisor must be at least an associate professor. The assistant supervisor must also have a doctoral degree and have completed supervisor training approved by the faculty.

Change of supervisor

An application for a change of supervisor is made to the Vice Dean with responsibility for PhD Studies. The application must be signed by all concerned - the PhD student, the new and previous main supervisor, the new and previous co-supervisor and the Deputy Head of Department (FU-prefekt). The application form can be found on the following page: Change of supervisors pdf 132 kB (new tab)

Experience shows that in the vast majority of cases, PhD students complete their research studies with the supervisory constellation that was appointed from the beginning. However, there are a number of situations in which it becomes necessary to appoint a new supervisor.

According to the Higher Education Ordinance, (Chapter 6 Section 28) a PhD student has the right to change supervisor on request. A change of supervisor can also be appropriate for reasons related to the supervisor’s own situation. If all parties are in agreement, a change of supervisor is easy to implement.

Changing supervisors is not always uncomplicated, however, for the PhD studentas well as for the supervisor. A PhD student who requests it has the right to change supervisors, but it is desirable for the (in the event of) underlying conflict or problem to have been addressed and possible alternative solutions to have been considered. If a PhD student wishes to change supervisors, he or she is to contact the Deputy Head of Department responsible for PhD studies at the relevant department.

A PhD student who wishes to change supervisors can propose a new supervisor but does not have the right to demand a certain supervisor. The change of supervisors is to be documented and followed up by the Deputy Head of Department. The matter is to be dealt with promptly so that the PhD studies are not delayed and the PhD
student can continue the thesis work with the same research focus stated at the time of admission.

1. The PhD student or the supervisor contacts the Deputy Head of Department to discuss the need for a change of supervisor.
2. A written request for a change of supervisor is submitted to the Deputy Head of Department (the field for the new supervisor can be left empty, if no such person has yet been contacted and appointed).
3. The Deputy Head of Department submits the application for change of supervisor to the PhD Studies Office.
4. The Vice Dean with responsibility for PhD Studies appoints a new supervisor.
5. The PhD Studies Office updates the information in LADOK.
6. The individual study plan is updated by the PhD student together with the
new supervisor and must be approved by the Deputy Head of Department.

A change of supervisor can also be necessary for reasons other than a request from the doctoral student, for example if the supervisor changes workplace, retires, goes on sick leave or extended leave of absence. In these cases, too, the Vice Dean with responsibility for PhD Studies decides on appropriate measures and the form for the change of supervisor is to be sent in to the PhD Studies Office.

Time required for supervision

At the Faculty of Medicine the minimum time for supervision is 100 hours per year. The distribution of time should be related to the PhD student's degree of activity and be distributed according to need and to the phase of the programme. The supervision time includes the time that the supervisor and PhD student work with the student's education, such as research projects and courses. The supervision time also includes reviewing text and planning for the public defence.

Supervision time shall be divided between the principal and assistant supervisors during the semesters, and at least once a year the principal supervisor and PhD student must conduct a follow-up meeting and, when necessary, update the PhD student’s individual study plan.

If the main supervisor retires during the a PhD student’s time in the doctoral programme, an assistant supervisor with at minimum docent-level competency with both supervision and funding opportunities should be attached to the project. After reaching retirement age (according to Sweden’s Employment Protection Act), it is no longer permitted to hold the role of main supervisor.

The Research Studies Board has decided that close relationships or family ties between PhD students and their supervisors are not permitted. Neither are close relationships or family ties between supervisors who supervise the same PhD student.

The supervisor's responsibilities

The main supervisor must:

  • participate in composing the PhD student's individual study plan. The study plan must state which research project the PhD student is working within and the courses included in their programme. The individual study plan must also describe the research programme under the headings of objectives, background, the PhD student’s own preliminary results, and planned investigations and their significance.
  • ensure that the PhD student acquires the knowledge specified in the study plan.
  • ensure that adequate resources for conducting the project are made available to the PhD student at the department.
  • facilitate the PhD student's participation in relevant postgraduate courses, symposia and conferences.
  • support, encourage and be available for discussions with the PhD student to the extent specified in the study plan. In order to broaden the PhD student's network at the department, it is often appropriate for the PhD student to present their project in seminar form at the beginning of their work and at regular intervals during their programme.
  • be responsible for ensuring that the PhD student is well aware of the opportunities for study funding (e.g. the doctoral position, research within the framework of a medical service, etc.), which are available both at the time of admission and during the doctoral programme.
  • ensure that the thesis work progresses at a reasonable pace so that the work is completed within the stipulated time. This is best achieved through continuous and close contact in the research work.
  • be responsible for – and take initiative to ensure that – the half-time review is carried out.
  • determine when the thesis work has progressed to the extent that it is ready for the public defence seminar. It is primarily the supervisor's responsibility to assess when the manuscript meets the requirements of an academic thesis in terms of both quality and scope.
  • propose people to fulfil the roles of faculty opponent and examination committee members, and attend the examination committee's meeting in conjunction with the public defence and participate in the deliberations.

If the main supervisor cannot be available for an extended period of time due to, for example, illness, being away from home or other reasons, a deputy supervisor should be appointed.