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APV (Work Place Assessment)

Survey and 'best practices'

 

In 2016 Aarhus University conducted a satisfactory survey among all staff, including PhD students. In general, PhD students scored lower than academic staff. PhD students are generally satisfied with their influence on their daily work and their competences to perform the required tasks. PhD students do however feel more stressed and lonely than academic staff.

As a consequence of the survey, AUPA collected some ‘best practices’ among departments who scored high among faculty satisfaction.

These ‘best practices’ are listed below: 

 

Academic Loneliness

  • Mentor program that partners new PhD students with older PhD fellows at the department (e.g., Psychology, PolSci, MBG) or with a more senior researcher (PHAUST/ST)
  • Place mandatory PhD courses at the start of the program (e.g., PolSci, Management)
  • Clear supervisor guidelines that explicate the different functions, duties and tasks of supervisors and supervisee in regard to research and teaching (e.g., PolSci)
  • Presentations at the department in regular intervals (e.g., “Fagligt Forum” at Psychology, PhD presentations at PolSci)
  • Support for PhD teaching in research groups including peer support and guidance from experienced staff (e.g., Psychology)
  • Providing open office hours for informal talks with senior faculty including professors (e.g., Health)
  • Aim to find the best fit for the PhD’s research in specific research sections and journal clubs (e.g., PolSci)
  • Regular meetings in working groups/research groups that allow the PhD student to get in contact with different junior and senior researchers in an active research environment (e.g., Health, Psychology, PolSci)
  • Writing retreats and PhD seminars at Sandbjerg or other locations (e.g., Health, PolSci)
  • Regularly organizing PhD Days (e.g., Health, iNANO autumn school, MBG)
  • Online debate/idea sharing forum for PhD students at the same department (e.g. iNANO)

Ideas and solutions

  • Establishing rules that allow for cooperation among PhD students (e.g. co-authoring a paper that goes into both dissertations) (discussed at Management)
  • Establishing ‘twin PhDs’ containing of two students that work together on an extensive PhD project (discussed at Management)
  • Establishing idea workshops before application deadlines of major conferences to pitch ideas and explore cooperation (discussed at Management)
  • Facilitation of networking across departments (discussed at Management)
  • Establishment of an online platform that allows for collaboration partners by presenting research/ideas/data (discussed at Management)
  • Extension of group-focused teaching in mandatory PhD courses (discussed at Management)

Social Loneliness

  • Providing an open PhD mailing list that can be used for social and work related information (e.g., Law, Psychology, PolSci)
  • Regular (weekly) PhD lunch or breakfast meetings with the possibility to socialize and discuss various issues regarding individual projects or general issues (e.g., Psychology, PolSci, Geoscience, DPU in Emdrup)
  • System for matching office mates (seniors and juniors) (e.g., PolSci)
  • Social activities organized by the PhD group in order to provide venues for socializing within the department: e.g., parties, Friday bars, sport groups, PhD breakfasts, coffee hours (e.g., Psychology, Management, PolSci, Health, Physics, Geoscience)
  • Facebook group (e.g., PolSci, MBG, iNANO) 
  • AUPA hosts regular "Joint Action" workshops to provide a forum for socializing.

Ideas and solutions

  • Organizing writing retreats (discussed at Management) 

Work Related Stress

  • Mentor program that connects new PhD students with older PhD fellows at the department (e.g., PolSci)
  • Staff development talks (MUS) (e.g., PolSci, Economics)
  • Aim to have an open culture about stress by, for example, regularly discussing related issues at PhD lunches (e.g., Psychology, PolSci)
  • Raising awareness and supporting the use of counselling and leaves provided by the University, including Union representatives, Work Environment representatives, PhD student counselors, and the Psychological Counselling Service for Aarhus University employees (Link to Homepage) (e.g., Psychology, PolSci, Health)
  • Offer a "third party" conversation/counselling with a member of the academic staff to discuss project-related or collaboration-related issues (e.g. Health)
  • Increasing awareness among PhD supervisors, that they are responsible for directing attention towards well-being and balance among their PhD students to avoid unnecessary stress (e.g., Psychology) 
  • Implement "Matching Expectations" conversations between the supervisor and PhD student in the beginning of the project (PHAUST/ST and GSST)
  • Establish writing groups for PhD students finishing their thesis (MBG)
  • AUPA hosts regular "Joint Action" workshops to provide a forum for socializing and discussion PhD-related challenges. 

Ideas and solutions

  • Establishing an early warning systems for overtime (tentatively discussed at PolSci)
  • Clarifying expectations towards PhDs (discussed at PolSci)
  • Allowing for working with one's project in the context of PhD courses (discussed at Management)
  • Introducing better project management tools to ensure progress/monitoring of projects (discussed at Health) 

Discrimination and Bullying

  • Encouraging a culture of speaking up (e.g., Psychology, PolSci)
  • Preventive measures by e.g., maintaining and developing a good social environment (c.f. above) at the workplace (e.g., Psychology, PolSci)
  • Raising awareness for Aarhus University’s zero-tolerance policy on discrimination and bullying (e.g., Psychology, PolSci)

Ideas and solutions

  • Providing clear definitions of discrimination and bullying (discussed at PolSci, Management)
  • Providing details for contact persons (discussed at PolSci)
  • Improving gender equality among senior staff and leadership positions (discussed at Management, PolSci)