PhD studies in BeCog

Research topics
Research in BeCog is diverse and ranges from investigations of the social behavior of primates to neurocognitive studies with human subjects. Research areas are mainly defined by the interests of our members. The participating scientists and their research foci are presented in the members section.

Embedding in research groups
The Students are members of the Faculty of Biology and Psychology and join the research group of their main supervisor (for our sister program in the Humanities, please see here). The core of the dissertation is the students' own research projects.

Thesis committee
Students are supervised by a three-member thesis advisory committee (TAC), which is appointed by the program committee. TAC meetings are regularly scheduled and held at least once per year; during these meetings, current developments, advances and future plans are discussed. The first meeting should take place within the first six months of the PhD; however, students are encouraged to arrange meetings to fit best with their schedules, i.e. to hold meetings prior to field work trips or after the completion of an experiment. Meetings are arranged by the student approximately three months in advance with their thesis committee members. In preparation for each meeting, students send a brief report (approx. 1 page) to the members of the TAC. TAC meetings begin with a short presentation that introduces/reminds the TAC members to/about the topics, methods, project results (if applicable) and progress of the PhD project (roughly 30 minutes). During the following discussion, the scientific content, the summary of fulfilled credit requirements and the future development (i.e., projected timeline for projects and for PhD completion, but also career-related issues) of the student are discussed in detail. Every meeting ends with a brief discussion between the student and second-/third TAC supervisors to address any direct supervision concerns, as well as a discussion between the TAC supervisors without the student.

The available time slot for the meeting should be at least 1.5 hour. Meeting minutes are to be taken by the student and sent to all members for approval before sending the status report and minutes to the coordination office. Students must ensure that they get a signature on their “Checklist for PhD students” from all committee members at the conclusion of the meeting, which is required for matriculation.

It is recommended that students discuss the details of the report, the presentation format and the further details with other students from their research group (as structure and content may vary) and to consult with their supervisor before organizing the first meeting.

As a rule, students must prove attendance of a course on good scientific practice within the 1st year.
In addition to their own research work, students obtain 20 ECTS-credits in five different modules. To prepare for a variety of future activities and a diverse job market, these modules are broadly defined and go beyond the scope of the actual research project. Students are free to choose courses according to their own interests, but should discuss their plans with their supervisors. Also courses offered by other programs or universities can be accepted. Each module may consist of several courses or activities and 4 ECTS-points are obtained in each of the following modules:

Module 1: Acquiring knowledge of and reflecting on research
Participants learn to critically evaluate their projects and their field of research as well as to introduce their discipline in short presentations. Credits are acquired through active participation in colloquia, seminars and journal clubs. In addition to the BeCog seminar series, and the colloquia of the CRC Text structures and the DPZ, other seminar series can be visited. Department-specific journal clubs and seminars are accepted.

Module 2: Technical and methodological basics
Participants are introduced to methodological approaches and techniques relevant for their own research. The Method courses organized by BeCog can be found in the Method course catalogue on this website. In addition, courses offered by other programs or universities can be accepted.

Module 3: Scientific teaching
Participants contribute to teaching. During their PhD, all candidates either contribute to lectures and seminars or supervisor Bachelor and Masters students. The workload and specific duties need to be discussed with the supervisors and the thesis committee.

Module 4: Scientific communication
In this module, participants learn to present their own work to an international audience. To do so, PhD candidates participate in at least two scientific conferences and present their research either in talks or poster contributions.

Module 5: Key competencies
This module provides the opportunity to acquire increasingly important key qualifications. These skills are of general importance for a future professional career. Due to the large course diversity, students should discuss with their supervisors the selection of the most adequate courses. At the University of Göttingen, key qualifications are offered by the ZESS (Zentrale Einrichtung für Sprachen und Schlüsselqualifikationen), the Teaching in Higher Education Unit or the Dorothea-Schlözer-mentoring programm; other courses can also be accepted.

Participation and credit aquisition can be confirmed by supervisors and lecturers by signing the check list. Other credit confirmations are also accepted (templates are available in the right column).

It is planned that all PhD candidates can participate in an annual self-organized retreat. Since 2018, the retreat has been jointly organized with the Research Training Group 2070.

Duration of the PhD
The study program allows to graduate within three years. If this cannot be achieved, an extension for a maximum of two years is possible. An application together with the confirmation of the thesis committee must be submitted to the program committee every six months (please see the right column for the extension form). Students must be enrolled continuously at the University of Göttingen.

A publication-based dissertation is the preferred choice of our students. Students must be first authors on the manuscripts. In addition to the manuscripts, the thesis consists of an elaborate introduction and discussion. Alternatively, a monograph may be submitted.

Thesis submission and doctoral examination
The application for admission to the doctoral examination is to be submitted to the program committee. The application package includes the thesis, the checklist, credit confirmations and proposals for the members of the examination board. Detailed information can be found in the GAUSS regulations (§9). The required form and detailed guidelines can be found in the right column.

In addition to submitting a written thesis, students defend their project in a public presentation. They report about their project in a 30-minute talk, followed by 30- 60 minutes of questions by a six-member evaluation committee and the audience. The defense is held in English.

The regulations are outlined in the General rules for a PhD in GAUSS (RerNatO). Additional rules can be found in appendix 10 of the RerNatO. A detailed description of the modules can be found in the Module handbook. Further rules include the Rules of good practice for doctoral supervision and Rules of good scientific practice.

In cases of conflict, students can contact their supervisors, their thesis advisory committee, the BeCog coordination office or the program committee. In addition, GAUSS has appointed Prof. Dr. Ina Kersten as ombudsperson. All cases will be treated confidentially.

Further information
Additional information and guidelines can be found in column on the right.