A thesis is first and foremost training and learning through research, directed by a thesis director.
The VAS Doctoral School is not a substitute for this responsibility. Its role is to work behind the scenes to help the student make the most of this research experience, both personally and professionally.
The VAS Doctoral School wishes :
- to be kept informed on the progress of the thesis
- to both arouse and follow the doctoral student’s evolution toward the scientific maturity which characterizes a researcher
- to spur the creation of a professional project and accompany the doctoral student in preparing for the professional world
Different procedures and tools are in place to obtain these objectives :
- the professional project
- the tutor
- the annual report
- the thesis committee
- additional training possibilities
The Professional Project
During the thesis, the VAS Doctoral School wishes to prepare its doctoral students as much as possible for the job market. As such, post-Masters training is proposed, either to reinforce skills necessary for research or to develop complementary skills. All doctoral students are required to begin a professional project before the 1st thesis committee, which takes place in the first 4 to 6 months of the thesis. This prject will be included in the written report which the doctoral student gives his/her tutor.
The tutor is a senior research professor (or a researcher interested in the pedagogical aspect of doctoral training) who has received permission from the VAS Director to follow the student (thesis, training, professional project, job search).
The tutor is rich source for any pedagogical questions and for the professional project of the student, He/she is charged with creating the annual doctoral training program (with the approval of the student and the thesis director) and making sure that the student obtains the training credits necessary for the thesis defense.
The Annual Report
The tutor must remain informed. Designating a tutor enables the student to contact him/her anytime they deem necessary in case of a problem. A small procedure has been put in place as a precautionary measure: an annual report written by the student. The report is a short, 2-page document in which the tone is just as important as the content. The student should give his/her impression of how their work is progressing, their impressions, and their schedule for specific stages (finishing lab work, publications, writing and preparing the defense). Their professional project should also be included in this report. The thesis advisor is also consulted to have his/her impressions. Students are notified that this work is to be completed when they receive information about signing up for the following academic year.
The Thesis Committee
The Thesis Committee is the group of experts in front of whom the student will defend their work (theme, work completed, results, interpretation, scientific and professional perspectives) and receive congratulations (rare), encouragement (free of charge), critiques (numerous), and suggestions (always useful).
A broad-range of experts are generally included on the panel, including the thesis advisor and tutor as well as specialists in the field as well as specialists in related or complimentary fields of study. Three meetings are the minimum required (after 6 months, 1 year, 2 years). Additional meetings may be put in place in case of problems.
The VAS Doctoral School, via the tutor, prepares its students during the 3 years of the doctorate for two different roles :
Becoming a researcher : In the beginning, the doctoral student follows the scientific leadership and direction of the thesis advisor, but little by little the student must take control of his work, learning to discuss it openly and finally assuming responsibility for his/her research. The Thesis Committee and Annual Report are central to this maturation. Additionally, there are other resources and additional training proposed by VAS that will help students become researchers: culture of Biology, Methodology and Management of Research, general training concerning Math, languages, and IT.
Becoming a professional : This is a long road that is often neglected during the beginning of a thesis. For many students, doing a PhD is a way of unconsciously putting off choosing a specific profession. Le student must reflect upon his/her interests and aspirations, as well as the kinds of jobs that are available in the field. Considering the different possibilities as well as limitations, students should come to a decision and prepare to look for a job as part of the final steps of the thesis. The VAS Doctoral School proposes a panoply of resources for its students throughout this process.