PHD

Results of the survey

Introduction

The Researcher Training & Development Office and the Research Group TOR organize an annual PhD Survey. The aim is to measure the satisfaction of PhD candidates with their PhD trajectory and perceived support. We elaborate here upon the results of 2021.
Through the response of 722 candidates, divided over all faculties, we gained insight into what aspects contribute to the job satisfaction of PhD candidates at the VUB.

8 indicators are found to be influential:

  • The feeling of being on the right track
  • Satisfaction with the support from the supervisor
  • The belief in submitting the PhD successfully
  • Satisfaction with the freedom received from the supervisor
  • Experiencing research related obstacles
  • Satisfaction with the personal conditions of the working place (E.g., the expertise in the department, training opportunities…)
  • Experiencing personal obstacles
  • Satisfaction with the impersonal conditions of the working environment (E.g., wage, vacation days, office space…)

The job characteristics listed on top have a bigger influence on the evaluation of the overall job satisfaction than items listed lower in the list.

At the bottom of this page you can log in and get your personal feedback.

What is the goal of this survey?

This survey has three main goals:

  1. Self-evaluation: It gives PhD candidates the opportunity to reflect on their PhD trajectory and to compare their own answers to that of other VUB PhD candidates.
  2. Early-problem detection mechanism. It gives the opportunity to signal problems (concerning supervision, overall satisfaction with VUB, etc.) to the faculty and – if needed – to the ombudsperson.
  3. Feedback mechanism to different services and entities within the university: The results will be used to adjust support offered by the Doctoral Schools & the Researcher Training & Development Office and will be used as input for doctoral support on faculty level. The main results will be presented and circulated to all doctoral candidates and supervisors and on several policy boards.

Your participation is essential

Doing a PhD is an important phase in someone’s career and, by extension, in someone’s life. The VUB wants to do everything to guide you through this process as well as possible. However, every trajectory is different and not everyone experiences it in the same way. Moreover, your experiences as a newcomer are probably not the same as what they are in later stages of your PhD. Certain aspects that have an impact on your work satisfaction will probably change over the years (E.g., new colleagues, a leaving supervisor, failing experiments etc.). Transitions like these are very interesting for us to be aware of. With this survey, we try to analyze how you experience your trajectory in order to ameliorate your PhD process, as well as those of other (future) PhD candidates.

To be able to do this, it is important that the results of the survey are representative and comparable over time. This means that a high number of respondents is essential, as well as the recurring participation of PhD candidates throughout the years. This is why we would like to take this opportunity to thank you again for your valuable participation in the survey of last year and to warmly invite you to participate again in the survey of 2022, coming next spring.

4 clusters

By completing the survey, PhD candidates evaluate their own trajectory. Based on this data, four clusters were identified – grouping together PhD candidates with similar opinions on their work environment and satisfaction with the PhD trajectory.

Cluster 1: the moderate cluster: PhD candidates in this cluster do not have a very pronounced opinion about their work conditions. They encounter a moderate to substantial number of personal and research-related obstacles, and they are moderately to little satisfied about the support and freedom they get from their supervisor. The same applies to their satisfaction with the personal and impersonal conditions of their work environment. Despite this moderate satisfaction with these elements, PhD candidates in this cluster tend to feel like they are on the right track with their research and rate their chances to submit their PhD as high.

Cluster 2: self-confident cluster: This group of PhD candidates is mainly characterized by a low number of personal and research related obstacles. Overall, they are satisfied with the support and freedom they receive from their supervisor as well as with the personal and impersonal conditions at their job. PhD candidates in this cluster feel like they are on the right track with their PhD and rate their chances to successfully submit their PhD as high.

Cluster 3: the satisfied cluster: PhD candidates in this cluster are mainly characterised by their high satisfaction with the support and the freedom they get from their supervisor. Moreover, they also score high on satisfaction with their personal and impersonal conditions of their work environment. They experience a moderate number of obstacles in their PhD trajectory. Most PhD candidates in this cluster think they are on the right track with their PhD and expect to submit their PhD successfully.

Cluster 4: the doubtful, unsatisfied cluster: These PhD candidates encounter a lot of obstacles during the PhD trajectory, especially research related. Additionally, PhD candidates in this cluster are not satisfied with the freedom and the support they get from their supervisor and are also dissatisfied with the personal conditions of their work environment. Impersonal conditions are rated rather moderately. PhD candidates in this cluster do not really feel like being on the right track with their PhD research and estimate their chance to submit the PhD successfully lower than their peers in the other clusters.

Please note that a small group of PhD candidates was not assigned to one of the clusters. These are PhD candidates who indicated to never have had a physical workplace at the VUB.

Personal feedback

The Researcher Training & Development Office is dedicated to ensuring that PhD candidates at the VUB are satisfied and supported throughout their process and complete it successfully. Therefore, it is important that the PhD candidates can consult the results of the annual survey and receive feedback to what cluster they belong and how your position relates to that of your colleagues. To learn more about your personal results, please log in below.

View your results