On the first day, the event was opened by the former Leibniz PhD Network Spokespersons Anja Jahn and Jacob Gorenflos. After welcoming all participants, they introduced the Network’s structure, the Steering Committee, and shortly summarized the achievements of the Working Groups in the last year.
As the ongoing crisis prevented a face-to-face event, our 5th Leibniz PhD Network General Assembly (GA) 2020 took place online from 1st to 2nd October 2020. This however opened also for the first time the possibility to invite all doctoral researchers of the Leibniz Association: Around 168 doctoral researchers from 57 Leibniz institutes and museums met to exchange experiences, to network, and the representatives voted for a new steering group.
Once a year, all elected PhD representatives of the 96 Leibniz Institutes and Research Museums meet for two days of networking, exchange of best practices and discussions on current and future challenges of doctoral researchers in Germany. This General Assembly is of crucial importance for the Leibniz PhD Network, since it also contains a discussion of the Standing Rules and the election of a new Steering Committee.
Conflicts? Pretty sure – we have all been there. If you are working on your PhD, apart from your research, solving conflicts becomes one of your core strengths sooner than you know. Most of them are our daily business, from conflicting meeting schedules, to talking past each other or trying to ascertain extra information. Some other conflicts might be more intricate, completely unfamiliar to you or consume a lot more of your attention. These issues could concern your working contract, a disagreement with your supervisor or situations that made you feel uncomfortabel, unsafe or discriminated. Dealing with these kind of conflicts is often stressful or can be hard to cope with.
The good news is that you are not alone! There are trustworthy and experienced people who can support you. In this guide the WG Prevention of Power Abuse created an overview of whom to contact at your Leibniz institute and beyond if you could use support in a pending conflict or for information on how to prevent it.
During the GA 2017 in Rostock, a group of people that deeply cared and was concerned about working and supervision conditions at Leibniz institutes founded the working group PhD Agreement within the Leibniz PhD Network. Founding members were Saskia Ripp (IDS Mannheim) and Rosa Grote-Gálvez (BNITM Hamburg) as working group organisers and leaders, Carolin Dittrich (MfN Berlin), Gregor Jatzlauk (FZ Borstel), Wietje Nolte (FBN Dummerstorf), Kerstin Pawletko (HPI Hamburg) and Carlo Marzini (DSMZ Braunschweig).
Challenge accepted: Let’s get some work done
We had noticed that the working conditions and supervision standards for doctoral researchers at Leibniz institutes widely differ, especially between the individual sections.
The working group PhD Agreement therefore aimed at providing guidelines that will help to improve, align and ensure equal rights and rightful supervision standards for all doctoral researchers within the Leibniz Association.
Less than one year ago, we invited all doctoral researchers working at Leibniz Institutes to take part in our second Leibniz PhD Survey. This online survey was developed by the Leibniz PhD Network and its N2 partner networks: the Max Planck PhDnet, Helmholtz Juniors and IPP Mainz. More than 900 doctoral researchers working at nearly 90 different Leibniz institutes accepted our invitation. Since end of last year, we were busy preparing data, checking data quality, analyzing responses, drawing conclusions and working on the final report. Our survey report is finally ready, published and can be accessed here.
The report tells us a lot about the status quo of doctoral researchers, their aspirations, and the challenges they face in their daily work as well as in their career planning. It also tells us a lot about positive or negative developments in the last two years when comparing results with the 2017 Leibniz PhD Survey. A higher share of respondents holds working contracts compared to the last PhD survey, while less respondents hold a stipend. Still, 1 out of 10 respondents is financed by a stipend, and those doctoral researchers face several economic disadvantages described in the report.