Structured doctoral education is to create a supportive environment. Setting up structures means taking institutional responsibility for training through research. Doctoral education is an individual journey, and structures must give support to individual development, and not to produce uniformity or predictability. The goals of structuring doctoral education must be to assure diverse and inclusive research environment of a high quality as the basis of doctoral education. This includes critical mass, transparent admission procedures and high quality of supervision.
Structuring doctoral education also means achieving flexible structures to expose early stage researchers to a wide range of opportunities, ensuring personal and professional development and to provide institutional support for a career development and mobility*.
PhD programs in Austria, and at our universities, are focused on research training and not coursework, and a PhD should be completed in 3-4 years. Thus our focus in our structured DK program is on research mentorship (including study design, project management, critical and analytical thinking), monitoring (to help keep candidates on track), soft skills, and publication and not on a large volume of coursework.
The key aim of our research-training program is to provide structure, guidance and advice from experienced researchers. In particular, students master the crucial skills of designing, conducting, analyzing and writing up scientific research by engaging in these activities under the guidance of our faculty (along with post-doctoral fellows in our labs), and with the strong administrative and practical support of our quite extensive staff (secretarial, animal care and -training, technical and IT).
*excerpt from the "Salzburg II Recommendations" from the EUA European University Association