I am reading up on PhD support programs today as preparation for a meeting with other teaching librarians at Lillehammer and Hedmark University Colleges on Wednesday. We are starting up a collaboration with the goal to improve PhD support here. We are thinking about how we can structure a meaningful course on everything from how to use the VPN and how to search for and use scholarly papers to how the publishing system works and so on.
A couple of years ago, we went on a study tour in Denmark and southern Sweden. We found that Malmö Högskola (University of Malmö) had particularly interesting courses for new PhD students. I am looking at the course descriptions today and I have to say that I am impressed. Not only do they award credits (ECTS) for each course, but they have build good structures around the courses. The first course is called “To be a PhD student” and the goal is to introduce the university`s goals, visions as well as legal documents etc. as well as socialising the students into the PhD “culture”. The students are required to read some texts, choose a thesis to present to other students and to write a reflection (paper) on how they see their own role as students and on the strategies and documents from the university. I think that a lot of PhD students can feel quite lonely at the university. They often work solo and sit in their offices all day without being able to engage with students and faculty staff much. Taking the introductory course might help them get acquainted with other PhD students and staff. A very good idea!
Other courses that they give in Malmö are: “Searching for scholarly information”, “Science in society”, “Supporting other students` learning”, “Science methodology”, “Academic publishing” and “Presenting your results to different user groups”.
I wish we could get together with the deans and the PhD coordinators here to do something similar, if only on a smaller scale. The librarians could be involved in some of the courses, while others could be given by the faculties alone. The point is to see these courses as one – a guide to how to function in the world of science.
I will read all the course descriptions today, and I hope that I will get some ideas on what we can achieve here at GUC, LUC and HUC.