EURODOC 2003 QUESTIONNAIRE - PORTUGAL

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1 2003 Eurodoc Conference EURODOC 2003 QUESTIONNAIRE - PORTUGAL A. PhD System 1. Please provide a short outline (½ A4 page) of the PhD system in your country including the following information: Approximate number of PhD students Average length of PhD study Sources of funding Portuguese students who expect to pursue a PhD degree can do it in two diferent ways depending on their graduate marks: (a) take a PhD programme, which consists of one year of specific courses in their research area (usually the same as for a Masters degree) plus four years for the development of an original work and writing their final dissertation; (b) those with higher marks (16) are from the beginning exclusively engaged in the pratical development of their work/thesis, which ought to completed within five years. To our knowledge, there are no national statistics on the exact number of doctoral students, but because they live mostly on grants financed by the Portuguese foundation for science and technology (Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia FCT), we believe that the number of grant owners is approximatly the same as that of PhD students. In 2001 there were PhD grants running, from which 626 were awarded that same year [1]. Due to the reduced number of contracted scientists and technicians, the Portuguese research system is highly dependent on grant researchers (doctoral or other). As it is, PhD students must develop most part of the experimental tasks of the research projects of their groups even if this is sometimes not strictly related to their PhD subject. Despite their important role in the research system, doctoral students are supported by grants that have very little welfare benefits. Also, grant-holders have no legal right to holidays, do not benefit from disability pensions or from any unemployment benefit, and must be exclusively engaged in research. 1

2 Papers, Presentations and Questionnaire B. General Questions 1. Which actions or activities has your national association been involved in this year? And what are your association s future planned activities? The "Associação dos Bolseiros de Investigação Científica - ABIC" is a nationwide organisation of young researchers. It was officially founded on the 1 st of February It is composed by grant-holders and young researchers that have no stable position in the Portuguese national research system. That includes PhD students, postdocs, grant-holders such as graduate or undergraduate technicians, or other young scientists who have unstable contracts with their institutions. The aims of ABIC are to fight for better labour conditions for young researchers and to promote conditions for the creation of employment for young scientists. We started our activities about one year ago as an informal group: preparing a manifesto asking for a new status for grant-holders, in which social benefits are implemented, and the promotion of employment for young scientists is demanded. We have presented this manifesto to political and administrative institutions such as political parties, parlament and the minister of science. In the future, we plan to lobby the Portuguese ministry of science for a new grant-holder s law and also to diagnosis the Portuguese young researchers situation, in particular to know the exact number of grant-holders in the Portuguese research system, their labour conditions, their role in the research system and their career opportunities. In order to solve local problems, we shall create local groups of ABIC in every research centre in Portugal and, in addition, we shall continue our colaboration with similar international organisations. In that framework we have attended the Precarios I Jornadas de Jóvenes Investigadores, which took place on the 7 th of February 2003, in Cádiz, and we are participating at the Eurodoc conference here in Utrecht. 2. What is the percentage of PhD students who: a. manage to complete their PhD within the alloted time period? b. manage to complete their PhD but not within the alloted time? c. do not complete their PhD at all? In Portugal, the alloted time period to complete a PhD is four years, which is the usual length of Portuguese doctoral grants but, due to both poor working/research conditions (specially in experimental areas) and lack of supervisor evaluation, most students take 5 to 6 years from start to finish. In 2001, only 29% of students who got their PhD degree were still grant-holders [2]. 2

3 2003 Eurodoc Conference C. Mobility 1. Give an estimate of the number of PhD students leaving your country to study abroad, as well as the number of foreign PhD students coming to your country, for: a. a temporary stay during the PhD, and b. the complete duration of the PhD. Considering that the number of PhD students is almost the same as the number of PhD grants, in 2001 there were PhD grants running, from which 686 grants were for studies in Portugal, 463 were for studies abroad (permanent) and 300 included temporary stays abroad during the PhD [1]. This means that 53% of PhD students do their work abroad, either for the complete duration of their studies or for shorter periods of time. 2. Find one example of a good practice of a university or institution to facilitate the mobility of junior researchers (e.g. in removing legal barriers, institutions specifically addressing issues related to foreigners, etc). Instead of one example of a good practice, we would like to call the attention to the situation of foreign grant-holders (outside Shengen ) whose family, due to national immigration law, have no right to work in our country. D. Career Paths 1. What is the percentage of PhD students who wish to work in academia? What is the percentage of students who actually remain in academia? If there are no available figures, then please provide a general impression of the situation. PhD students in Portugal tend to believe that their future work, once they have finished their PhD, will have to be strictly related to the subject of their thesis. On the other hand, from the point of view of employers, there is also the general idea that PhDs will only be capable of doing work related to the subject of their thesis. This situation is therefore a hindrance to developing career opportunities outside academia. 2. In your association s opinion, do junior researchers receive enough information about career opportunities and possibilities outside academia? There is no information about the possibilities of career oportunities. 3. Give examples of initiatives in your country that promote careers paths outside academia. In the recent past there has been a govermental programme for professional employment of young researchers in the private sector. The outcome of this program 3

4 Papers, Presentations and Questionnaire has been very unsatisfactory: only 20 PhDs in 2002 [3]. E. Gender Equality 1. What is the percentage of women at: a. undergraduate level; b. post-graduate level; c. PhD level; d. post-doctoral level; e. associate professor level, and f. professor level? Level 1996/97 [4] 2000/2001 [1,2] Undergraduate 56% 57% Graduate 64% PhD 54% (grants) PhD degree 40% 44% Post-doc 40% (grants) Professors 36% 2. Specify the relevant percentages for the above listed levels for the exact sciences (mathematics, physics and chemistry) Exact science PhD level (grant) PhD Post-doc (grant) Mathematics [2] 40% 38% 20% Physics [2] 31% 18% 10% Chemistry [2] 60% 54% 38% (2000/2001) 3. Are there any grants available for PhD or Postdoc research in your country which do not include maternity leave? If so, please give examples. The grants in Portugal include maternity leave. 4. Do you know of any initiatives at national or university level to facilitate gender equality? If so, please specify. No, we do not. 4

5 2003 Eurodoc Conference F. PhD Supervision and Training 1. Is there any evaluation of PhD supervision? If so, what does the evaluation involve? If not, what would you propose? There is no evaluation system for PhD supervision in our country. We propose the anglosaxonic system where the candidate work is guided not only by a supervisor but also by other professors or people from outside the university that can provide additional expertise and advice on his/her research topic. (2002 Eurodoc Conference, Conclusions Book) 2. With reference to Question 3 (General Questions), is there a connection between the supervision of PhD students and the dropout rate/length of time taken to complete the PhD? Please elaborate. There is no data relating drop-out rates with poor supervision but it is our feeling, based on personal experience, that this is the case. 3. Indicate the relative importance of the following skills alongside the PhD itself. Please also indicate whether courses are available, in general, in these fields. Skill Management Communication Foreign language ability Computer literacy Teaching Presenting Use of resources (e.g. libraries) Time management Interview technique/job search All of the skills listed above are relevant for PhD trainning, the degree of importance of each skill depending on the area of the canditate s studies. In some universities some courses such as foreign language ability (english) or computer literacy are provided during graduate levels, but, apart from these two, there are no available courses. G. Discussion 1. What are the current problems in your country concerning PhD students and the PhD system itself? What are the current problems concerning post-docs and other young researchers? Currently the main problems concerning portuguese young researchers are: Poor social security benefits; Poor research infrastructures laboratories, computers, libraries, travel 5

6 Papers, Presentations and Questionnaire References funds; Poor career perspectives, both in the private sector (no innovation tradition) and in the public sector (quenched vacancies in state laboratories and underpopulated universities). [1] Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia: [2] Observatório da Ciência e do Ensino Superior: [3] Agência de Inovação: [4] Instituto das Ciências Sociais da Universidade de Lisboa, A Situação Social em Portugal: Capítulo 3 Educação: Alexandra Rosa, February

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