Doctoral research

Welcome to the University of Konstanz. Here you will find optimal conditions for successfully completing your doctoral degree. We look forward to supporting you with our varied and individual support services, which include information resources, events, advice and coaching.

Formal requirements and steps to complete your doctorate

Beginning your doctoral research

The doctoral phase

Once you have met the formal requirements, have concluded a doctoral supervision agreement with your supervisor(s) and have been admitted as a doctoral researcher by your department, you may begin to work on your doctoral thesis. Your research may encompass various tasks depending on your subject area and working group. But whatever your other obligations, your doctoral thesis always is an independent academic achievement and is at the heart of your doctoral research. A doctoral thesis is submitted in writing either as a monograph, a self-contained essay on a research topic, or as a cumulative, i.e. public-based thesis. As soon as your thesis has been approved you will be admitted to the oral examination required as part of the doctoral examination process. The doctorate is awarded once you have successfully completed the doctoral examination and the doctoral thesis has been published.

The legal framework for doctoral research at the University of Konstanz is provided by our Doctoral Regulations. These regulations determine who, and under which criteria, will be accepted for doctoral research and how the doctoral examination process is regulated.

Orientation and welcome

Whether you are an alumnus or alumna of the University of Konstanz or transferring from another university – starting your doctoral research marks the beginning of a new stage in your academic life and work. Academic Staff Development will ease your arrival at our university, as well as your transition into your new role as a junior researcher, by holding a number of welcome and orientation events and offering varied information resources and advisory services.

Shaping supervision

Signing the doctoral supervision agreement marks the beginning of the supervisory relationship, which will shape your time as a doctoral researcher decisively. The doctoral supervision agreement regulates the formal aspects of supervision, but the type and quality of the supervisory relationship is also determined by personal factors such as dedication, openness and the willingness to communicate on both your parts. Do you have questions about how to communicate and identify your objectives effectively? Do you want to have a productive supervisory relationship? Please feel free to take us up on our offers of advice and individual coaching.

Academic writing

Academic writing is a central skill doctoral researchers in all disciplines need to acquire. Putting your research into writing requires a well-thought out structure, precise phrasing and the ability to convey complex information efficiently and clearly. We offer individual advice on your writing. Come along to one of our seminars and workshops and learn about the different aspects of academic writing. Taking part in one of our writing groups, which offer both targeted support and opportunities for exchange with other doctoral researchers, may speed along your writing progress.

Mastering challenges

For most doctoral researchers, their thesis represents the most extensive and challenging project they have faced. It comes with new-found freedoms and can be very appealing. But do not forget that your doctoral thesis represents a considerable personal commitment that requires responsibility, motivation, dedication and stamina and comes with a considerable work load. Over the course of your doctoral phase you will likely encounter the occasional rough patch. But don’t worry: frustration tolerance and perseverance will get you through. Whether you are dealing with work and time management issues, are in the middle of planning your first lecture, presenting a conference paper, are about to have an important talk with your supervisor or preparing for your oral examination: We are happy to support you with individual advisory and coaching services.

Additional qualifications

While you teach, carry out your research and contribute to your working group you will gain numerous valuable skills. Use the time of your doctoral studies to develop these skills further. Do not let the pursuit of additional qualifications distract you from writing your thesis – but if you have the time, do try to expand your knowledge and skills and thereby improve your career prospects. We can support you with individually tailored seminars and presentations on relevant skills in research, teaching and management. The university’s “Führung, Management, Wissenstransfer” certificate (leadership, management, knowledge transfer) includes an official record of your skills in this area which may be advantageous for your future career both in and outside academia. If you want to obtain official proof of your teaching competency, you can take the “Baden-Württemberg-Zertifikat für Hochschuldidaktik” (Baden-Württemberg certificate of university didactics).

How to handle conflicts

There are several external support options that you can access should any conflicts arise with your supervisor(s). We will be very happy to provide advice or coaching on possible solution strategies. The university has appointed a doctoral studies ombudsperson whom you can trust to advise and mediate should any conflicts with your supervisor arise. And finally, there is the ombudsperson responsible for dealing with violations of good scientific practice, who can support you if you suspect that an incident of scientific misconduct has occurred.

Balancing work and family life

Often, the time that you pursue higher academic qualifications will also be the time that you settle down to start a family. Or perhaps you have other personal obligations such as providing care and support to family members and/or partners. Balancing your doctoral research with your duties towards your family can be quite a challenge. The University of Konstanz is aware of this and offers various measures and advisory services to make work and family life compatible. This way it is getting easier to balance the two.

Completing your doctoral degree

Completing your doctorate comes with its own set of challenges and requires you to do several things. You will finish and submit your thesis and start preparing for your oral examination. At the same time, you should also start thinking about your future career.

Preparing for your “Disputation” or “Rigorosum” (oral examination)

Once your doctoral thesis has been reviewed and approved, you may take the oral examination, during which you must demonstrate that you possess in-depth knowledge of your discipline and the necessary academic qualifications. The oral examination is carried out either as a “Disputation” or thesis defence (academic disputation of the dissertation), as a “Rigorosum” or doctoral viva (extended examination of the theses and/or speciality topics), or in a mixed form. The permissible type of examination is specified in the department-specific Doctoral Regulations . We offer individualise peer coaching sessions to help you prepare for your oral examination.

Career planning

Towards the end of your doctoral studies you are likely to ask yourself: Do I want to pursue an academic career or should I opt for alternative career paths? It makes sense to think about your options and take first steps towards realising your goals early on. We are very happy to offer advice, coaching and various events  to help you make a decision and plan your career at the university or in industry and society.

Further support services

The university offers you a huge spectrum of support services. In addition to our coaching and advisory services and the events programme, there is a number of university services to support you, such as the Office for Equal Opportunity and Family Affairs, the International Office, the Welcome Center, the Career Service and the Communication, Information, Media Centre (KIM). You can find all the information relevant for you as a (prospective) doctoral researcher and your career on our doctoral researcher portal.