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.
Our Webinar on Power Abuse that took place in early June generated a lot of interest and its reception and attendance highlight the relevance of the topic for doctoral researchers. Many of the participants had questions for the speakers and, due to time constraints, not all of them could be answered during the Zoom session. Anne-Kathrin Stroppe from our Working Group ‘Prevention of Power Abuse’ compiled the remaining questions and we are very lucky that Prof. Thomas Rigotti from the Leibniz Institute for Resilience Research, together with his team members Miriam Arnold and Miriam Schilbach, took the time to write out the following responses.
In our previous article we have introduced cultural diversity and some of the challenges faced by international doctoral researchers in Germany and within Leibniz. Among the challenges faced by doctoral researchers that were detected by the Leibniz survey, the most important categories were language barriers, especially at work, and bureaucracy. Doctoral researchers in the same institute may have a very different experience according to their background and the interaction in the workplace. International researchers feel slightly less integrated than German ones (70% against 86% feel integrated).Why is it so challenging for international doctoral researchers and what kind of support is being expected? The internationals do not receive enough formal support with bureaucratic tasks, such as finding health insurance, clarifying residence permits, or going to the registration office. They feel much less supported in finding childcare, finding a medical doctor who speaks a language in which they feel comfortable, or translating documents.