Guidelines for midway assessments
The midway assessment system was implemented on 1 January 2009. The guidelines were subsequently revised by the Programme Committee for Researcher Training (PFF) on 1 December 2011 and 25 February 2014.
The objective of the midway assessment is to provide doctoral research fellows with a more comprehensive and systematic response to their work, as well as constructive advice for the completion of their project, which in the long term will improve the throughput of research fellows. The assessment shall take place at a time when some work has been undertaken in the project and where it has found its form, but while there is still time to act on comments and criticism in an appropriate manner. The objective is also to encourage the candidates to start writing their thesis at the earliest possible stage, and to work systematically from early on. Moreover, it should help provide the doctoral research fellows with practice in presenting their material to a wider audience and stimulate academic discussion in the research groups within the departments. The candidates can thus use the assessment as inspiration for their further work on the thesis.
2.1 Scheduling and announcing assessments
The department with which the candidate is affiliated is responsible for carrying out the midway assessment.
The department schedules the seminar 3‒4 months in advance. Normally, the assessment will take place at the faculty. One or two expert assessors are appointed by the department, as proposed by the supervisor.
The department announces the midway assessment well in advance, so as to permit other employees to attend the open part of the assessment. An outline of the work is presented to these participants upon request.
2.2 Timing of the midway assessment
As far as is possible, the midway assessment shall be held after 18 months for doctoral research fellows with a 3-year contract, and after 24 months for research fellows with a 4-year contract.
2.3 Basis for the assessment
The candidate must submit all written material that is expected to be included in the thesis, either in draft or final form. Key chapters or sections that will form the main basis of the seminar should be identified. This material should be between 50 and 100 pages.
The assessment consists of an open seminar (of approximately 90 minutes) and a closed meeting (lasting approximately 30 minutes). The department head (or their representative), supervisor and assessor(s) will take part in the closed meeting.
3.2 Open seminar
The open seminar consists of a presentation by the candidate (approximately 30 minutes), comments from the appointed assessor (approximately 30 minutes) and a discussion (approximately 30 minutes).
At the seminar, the candidate must give an account of the issues and general ideas behind the project, and illustrate how they are dealt with in the submitted material. The assessor will give their assessment of the concept of the thesis and the written presentation. This is followed by an open discussion, where the participants provide input based on what has been presented.
After the seminar, a meeting is held with the head of department, the supervisor and the assessor about the project and its progress. The doctoral research fellow may also be invited to attend all or parts of this meeting. Here, an assessment must be made of whether the progress of the project is realistic in relation to the remaining time available, and whether there is a need for measures to improve the progress (e.g. additional supervision resources), and whether there is a need to alter important aspects of the project.
After the meeting, the assessor will write a brief memo about their main impressions from the midway assessment. The head of department or their representative will sign the memo and send it to the Administration Section as confirmation that the midway assessment has been held. If it transpires during the meeting that there is a need for measures to improve the progress, or to alter important aspects of the project, the head of department will present a proposal for such measures in the ‘follow-up’ field in the memo. This may, for example, relate to restructuring the project, providing additional supervision, changing the supervisor etc. In special cases, a decision may be made to hold a new midway assessment after six months.
If required, a meeting can be held between the Dean of Research, the candidate, the supervisor and the head of department, where appropriate measures are agreed.
If the midway assessment uncovers significant weaknesses or delays, this may lead to forced termination, pursuant to section 5.4 of the Regulations for the degree of Philosophiae Doctor (PhD) at the University of Oslo