WIPCAD’s structured process of supervision clearly defines the obligations and rights of both the supervisee and the supervisors, in line with the detailed guidelines of Potsdam Graduate School (PoGS). While every PhD project is unique in its challenges and requires individual consideration, WIPCAD operates on a common set of rules that structure the working relationship between doctoral researchers and their supervisors. The common rules allow both supervisees and supervisors to assess the progress of the PhD project and aim to ensure that dissertations are completed successfully within the designated period of three years.
Newly admitted doctoral researchers are required to hand in an exposé of not more than 10,000 words at the end of the first year. The exposé is discussed with, and evaluated by, the provisional supervisors and one other participating researcher, who will write independent evaluations. The reports provide doctoral researchers with detailed comments on the viability of their proposed research design and the theoretical grounding of their project. They also indicate whether the doctoral researcher requires additional training to complete successfully his or her project, and whether the necessary training can be provided for within the framework of WIPCAD.
Based on the assessments of the exposé, research students will be advanced to the second year, asked to resubmit a revised exposé, or failed. Successful students select their supervisors for the rest of the program at the beginning of the second year, subject to the approval of the WIPCAD spokesperson. Before the end of the second year, students will submit at least three draft chapters. The final thesis will be submitted at the end of the third year.
Beyond academic mentoring, the supervisors also transmit professional knowledge about what it means to start an academic career and the most important rules governing career advancement. The supervisors provide advice with regard to most important conferences and workshops, professional associations and publication outlets in the field.
WIPCAD cooperates closely with Potsdam University’s Office for Career Services. For those intending to set-up their own business or consultancy, the University’s award-winning entrepreneurship services, UP Transfer, will provide advice, training and support. Furthermore, WIPCAD intends to provide “start-up funding” for some of its graduates. This funding is for flexible short-term contracts not exceeding nine months that allow recent PhD graduates to turn their theses into publications and develop their next project. Support may also include travel grants, childcare support, and student assistants.