Information for PhD-students and their supervisors


For our PhD-students and their supervisors we here outline the goal and the main elements of SIKS teaching program. Among other things, we sketch the main activities organized by the school, formulate the formal requirements for SIKS-PhD-students entering this program, and explain how the school maintains the quality of the program and monitors the progress of its PhD-students.

1. Introduction

The main aim of the SIKS teaching program is to offer PhD students a nation-wide teaching program in the field of Information and Knowledge Systems during the course of their PhD study, that will provide them with broad basic knowledge as well as specialized, advanced training. SIKS-alumni will be high-quality researchers, possessing a thorough knowledge of the School's field of research, and specialized in the subject of their dissertation. They will be able to carry out fundamental research as well as put their knowledge to practical use. As a result, SIKS-alumni can be expected to enter the labor market in a favorable position, whether they continue their career in academic research, industrial research or consultancy.

To obtain these objectives SIKS has developed a four year program that comprises two parts:

  • The Tutorial Program: this consists of 9 tutorials that provide the Phd-students with a basic methodological training and that supplement the Masters courses the Phd-student has followed;
  • The Advanced Components Program: the aim of the advanced components is to bring the Phd-student into contact with the international frontline of research topics, addressed by the student in his Phd-project.
SIKS gives shape to this program by (co-)organizing and (co-)financing such divergent activities as tutorials (5 each year), advanced courses (usually 4 each year), master classes, seminars, research colloquia, doctoral consortia and lectures/tutorials given by visiting professors from abroad or senior staff members. In 2008 the program comprised over 80 days of training. For the main part SIKS could realize these training activities by utilizing its national-wide experience; the schools senior staff counts over 200 research fellows, working at 11 universities all over the Netherlands. Increasingly, the training program of SIKS has gained an international character. This has been achieved for instance by inviting top speakers from abroad at advanced courses and by arranging a free admission of SIKS phd-students to accredited international summer schools, or to tutorial programs and doctoral consortia of accredited international conferences.

SIKS demands an active participation from all Phd-students that have entered the school. For an annual fee of EUR 700 each SIKS-Phd-student has full access to all elements of the program. With respect to tutorials and advanced courses organized by SIKS in a conference center, this includes an in-house stay with single rooms for each student, all meals and course material for free. SIKS deliberately takes these considerable financial and managerial efforts to strengthen the social aspect of doing Phd-research and building up a research community.

2. The Tutorial program

The SIKS Tutorial program consists of 9 courses:

B0. Research methods and methodology for IKS
The tutorial B0 is organized each year and is required for all SIKS PhD students. The tutorial takes three days and intends to cater for the observation of many supervisors that students often lack an adequate methodological background for doing research. It tackles methodological issues and discusses techniques specifically in the context of computer science and information systems research. It is a broad course that covers such divergent topics as philosophy of computer science, research planning, problem analysis, case studies as a research design, empirical validation techniques and qualitative research. The study load is 48 hours.

The tutorial has a written evaluation. Participants are requested to fill in a questionnaire after the tutorial. Results are discussed with scientific director and course directors and are made available to the Phd-student advisory council.

B1-B8 Eight Tutorials on the field of IKS
The other tutorials are organized once every two years. The aim of these tutorials is to provide all PhD-students, coming from different subareas in the IKS-field with broad basic knowledge of key-topics in the IKS field that have proved their relevance in the filed for many years. Typically, each year, four of these basic courses are offered to the students. Each course takes two days. During the four year period at least six out of eight courses should be taken; it is allowed to take the remaining two courses in another Research School or take a Summer School that has an equivalent study load. The study load of each of the tutorial is 32 hours. The tutorial has a written evaluation. Participants are requested to fill in a questionnaire after the tutorial. Results are discussed with scientific director and course directors and are made available to the Phd-student advisory council.

3. The Advanced Components Program

The goal of an advanced component is to bring the course participants in contact with the current front of research in some area. As of 2008 The Advanced Components Stage is the major part of the SIKS teaching program. It comprises Advanced Courses and so-called "Other advanced components activities". These other advanced activities typically include master classes, workshops, seminars, research colloquia, tutorial programs, summer schools and doctoral consortia. All activities in the Advanced components Program are related to the seven research foci:
  • 1. Agent Technology
  • 2. Computational Intelligence
  • 3. Knowledge Representation and Reasoning
  • 4. Web-based Information Systems
  • 5. Enterprise Information Systems
  • 6. Human Computer Interaction
  • 7. Data Management, Storage and Retrieval
Each focus has its own focus director , who statutory holds a position in SIKS scientific advisory council and helps the scientific director and the managing director in planning and organizing all activities related to that particular focus. Advanced courses are typically two-days activities, organized in-house in a conference center. Usually they relate to one or two research foci. SIKS intends to organize each year per focus at least one advanced course or equivalent activity. A recent overview of advanced courses organized per focus can be found: here

Each SIKS-PhD-student is expected to actively participate in those elements of the advanced components which are relevant for their PhD-research. The study-load of each two days advanced course is 32 hours.

The course has a written evaluation. Participants are requested to fill in a questionnaire after the course. Results are discussed with scientific director and course directors and are made available to the Phd-student advisory council.

4. Quality, supervision and efficiency

The final responsibility for each promotion remains at the university where the defense takes place. SIKS has its own policy with respect to quality and control. The scientific director of SIKS is responsible for the (scientific) quality of the teaching program. The managing director is responsible for the organisation of the program.
  1. Each student entering the school has to provide SIKS with a detailed supervision and teaching program. In addition SIKS demands the promoter or at least the co-promotor and daily supervisor to be senior research fellows of SIKS. Furthermore, SIKS expects a so called co-supervisor to be added to the reading committee. The co-supervisor is a staff member who is not employed at the same university where the promotion takes place.
  2. Each PhD-students fills in the SIKS-monitor, an electronic questionnaire with over 80 questions about project characteristics and research interests. As a result the school has a database with over 400 projects, that enables SIKS to monitor relevant developments and trends in the IKS-field of the Netherlands and -if necessary- to make adjustments to the teaching program to cater for these developments. SIKS also investigates how the PhD-research is funded and which external partners are involved in the project. Results are published and made available for the members.
  3. At least once a year the managing director contacts the research leaders about progress of the phd-students working in that particular group. Aggregated data on duration, PhD-degree delivery and drop-outs are published yearly.
  4. Basic courses and advanced courses are assessed based on written evaluations.
  5. SIKS has a PhD Students Advisory committee that represents the PhD-students and advises the scientific director and board of governors on all aspects of the school that are relevant for the Phd-student .l