Results of the doctoral student yearly follow-up 2023
The results will also be presented in a feedback event on 25.4.2024, welcome!
Doctoral students at Aalto University answer a follow-up survey of the progress of their doctoral studies and research every year. The purpose of the yearly follow-up survey is to follow the progress of doctoral students, offer them support and collect statistical information on general level to develop the support for doctoral students.
While answering the survey and based on their answers doctoral students get instructions and links for further information which are tailored to their situation. Doctoral students may also request to be contacted personally at the end of the survey.
Doctoral students actively pursuing their degree answered
The survey was sent to the 3294 doctoral students of Aalto University in December 2023 and 29% answered. 73% of the respondents studied full-time and 7% were currently absent from their studies. 59% had confirmed funding until the estimated end of their studies. Four out of five respondents had been able to follow their research plan during 2023.
86% of the respondents were preparing an article-based doctoral thesis. 73% of them were planning to include 3-4 articles in their thesis.
More than 80% of the respondents met their supervising professor and thesis advisor(s) frequently enough for their needs.
The figures were very similar as in 2022, but there was a slight increase in the percentage of students with funding until the end (54% in 2022) and of students who were able to follow their research plan (three out of four in 2022).
In their wishes for developing the supervision practices at Aalto many doctoral students emphasized the need for regular and structured supervision. Many felt that there should be mechanisms for accountability and transparency in the supervision practices. Quite a few brought up the importance of compassionate approach and awareness of wellbeing and support for mental health, as well as reassurance.
Yearly follow-up 2023
I have the space to learn the skills myself while being able to get help from my supervisor if needed.
One out of five respondents had completed one or several international mobility periods during 2023. Altogeher 229 international mobility periods were reported in the survey. The most popular destinations were Germany, United States, France and Italy.
Half of the respondents had foreign nationality.
Different phases of studies
This year the survey had specific questions for students who are not currently actively pursuing their studies or research. 7% of respondents were not currently active. The main reason for not actively pursuing doctoral studies was full-time employment in another position.
One third of the respondents were at the start of their studies, half were in the middle and one fifth either at pre-examination phase or about to graduate.
59% of the respondents who were about to graduate had clear plans for their near professional future, which is less than in 2022 (70%).
Yearly follow-up 2023
It's a helpful survey to reflect where I'm at with my doctoral studies.
Feedback and further action
It was possible to request for a personal contact through answering the survey. 17% of the respondents hoped to be contacted and most of them have already been contacted. Doctoral education services has promised to contact those who so wished within one month of the end of the survey.
Many respondents thought that the survey was very useful for them to check their situation and get information on the various services and resources there are for doctoral students. Many found the survey to have improved from last year, but there were also a lot of comments for improving and developing the survey further. Please see below answers to commonly presented feedback and questions.
We are very thankful for all the comments received regarding the survey itself as well as regarding doctoral education and services and support for doctoral students at Aalto University.
Processing of the results
The survey results are processed at general level in the doctoral education working group DEWG and in the Schools' Doctoral programme committees. The results will be used to develop doctoral education and the support and services for doctoral students.
A more detailed presentation of the results and discussion event for doctoral students is arranged on 25.4.2024.
The yearly follow-up survey is organised by the Doctoral education services.
Frequently asked questions about the yearly follow-up
Here is a compilation of the most frequently asked questions and feedback given for the the yearly follow-up in 2023.
The survey could be available in Finnish too.
Yes! Last year we worked hard to provide all our aalto.fi pages in Finnish (and we have also started the work to translate them in Swedish). Translating this survey is on our list of development items.
This survey should be anonymous.
The main purpose of this survey is to follow the progress of each doctoral student. This is why it cannot be anonymous. We are aware that this probably affects the way some questions are answered, but we are balancing between tracking your progress as well as asking your opinions and wishes.
Why is this survey conducted right before the holiday season when everyone is busy?
This is a yearly follow-up, and the questions are regarding the past calendar year. It is easier to remember what happened during the year in December than let’s say in three months later. Also, the University’s reporting and annual review cycle is such that we need the results of the survey as soon as possible in January. This year the mid-week Independence day unfortunately further complicated the schedule.
Why cannot you just pull the details out of existing systems? Why do I have to give my phone number?
You are right, we have your personal information, credits and ACRIS information in our systems (including your phone number). However, these questions have been included in the survey so that you will actively check your situation to be aware of your status – many doctoral students actually find this to be very useful. Another reason is that unfortunately our systems are not so sophisticated that we could easily combine tons of data from various sources. As for your phone number, we just want to be sure to have a current number in case we need to contact you about your answers.
Does it actually matter what we write here?
Yes! Doctoral education services and leadership of doctoral education at the university and the Schools pay a lot of attention to the answers we have received. Some things are easier to fix, sometimes there are constraints that make a finding solutions harder and it takes a bit longer to see results.
You should be able to write here sensitive issues too, it seems you don't just want to hear them here.
The survey includes a component of offering personal follow-up meetings, which can be used to discuss sensitive issues too. Because of the general data protection regulation (GDPR) issues as well as guidelines related to handling feedback on person’s work, there are limits to what we can ask in this survey. In case of experiences of misconduct or difficult situations, we encourage everyone to turn to Aalto University’s existing practices for support for challenging situations for doctoral students.
How can I find my DPSP in MyStudies? How many credits have I completed for each module of my degree?
You will find your Doctoral personal study plan (DPSP) under Tasks in MyStudies. For more information, please see MyStudies instructions. The credits you have completed are presented in Sisu. In your credit plan in Sisu (so-called “Structure of studies”), you will see how you and your supervising professor have agreed to split the credits in modules – if not, please follow the Credit plan instructions to create an updated plan. If you have any questions about DPSP or your credits, please contact us, we are here to help: Doctoral education services.
Is DPSP required of me?
Yes, all doctoral students must have a Doctoral personal study plan (DPSP) stored in MyStudies. If you have started your studies before MyStudies was taken into use, you should simply upload your existing documents to MyStudies – and of course update them if need be.
I want more information about X, Y and Z!
We hear you! We have been improving our aalto.fi websites and you will be able to find tons of information at the Doctoral education hub. Very recently we have also added a Doctoral page index, where you’ll find all the pages related to doctoral education and doctoral students in alphabetical order. If you cannot find something, we are always happy to hear and keep improving. Please contact us at [email protected].
I don´t know who to turn to for help and getting clarity to my studies.
You can turn to us, Doctoral education services. We are here for all doctoral students. In questions related to choosing the most relevant courses and planning your studies, your supervising professor is responsible for guiding you. You will find more information about the responsibilities of the supervising professor and thesis advisor as well as what to do if the collaboration is not working on the page Supervision of doctoral studies.
Doctoral student follow-up survey results & feedback discussion
Presentation of the yearly follow-up survey for doctoral students 2023 results to doctoral students and chance for open feedback discussion