The hidden researcher Ethical considerations about shadow doctoral students
Outline • What is it • The dilemma • The law • Pros and cons
Definitions • Shadowdoctoral student (SDS): • A person whoworkswith the same typeofwork as as a doctoral student without formal enrolment. • Alternative: Grey-zonedoctoral student
Why do SDS exist? • The supervisor doesn’t have the funding for the whole PhD period at the start. • The supervisor/student wants a trialperiod before commitment.
Magazine of Lund University, 15/11 2013 • Increasingnumberofshadowdoctoral students • 75% of the doctoral students at the facultyof medicine hadbeen SDS • 40% of the doctoral students in science and technology SDS
Sydsvenska Dagbladet, 30/9 2008 • ~20 foreign students with small stipendswork as SDS • Cannotformally be enrolled duetotoolowsalary
ERGO, 16/5 2012 • Student enrolled in ”Advancedcourse”, 60 cr • Payed by stipends • Student: • I wasrepeatedlypromisedto be enrolled as a PhD student • My coursewasprolonged from 30 crto 60 cr • Researcher: • Shedid not achieve so much • I keptherbecauseshewasnice • No capacity for research • Another student washired
UNT, 26/5 2012 • Vice chancelloranswers • There is no room for SDS at UU • Cannotsayanythingof the specificcase
UNT, 19/9 2013 Verdictcomes from Universitetskansler-ämbetet: • Cannotsay for sure that it was a ”scamcourse” • There ”can be suspicionthat the purposewas for otherthingsthantogive a master course” • The departmentthinksthat it has donenothingwrong. • No consequences for the professor
The situation • Researcher • Fresh – dependent on results for future • New position – no previous contact with students at the University. • Money for only one PhD student
The situation • After announcing the position and reviewing the applicants, he/she selects the most qualified candidate • To test the student before hiring, he/she wants to give a “research training course” a few months, paid for by a low stipend • However, he/she knows that this is not allowed • Use the grey area or take the high road?
Background • In 1998 the new postgraduate education reform came into force. • According to the new legislation, only students that were guaranteed 4 years financing got to be accepted. • The UU doctoral-student representative made an announcement where he foresaw the genesis of “skuggdoktorander” (shadow doctoral students).
What does the law state? • “The faculty board is only allowed to enroll applicants that gets employed as doctoral students or have been granted education allowance for doctoral studies. The faculty board is, however, allowed to enroll applicants that have other financing if ‘…’ financing can be secured during the entire education ‘…’.” (Chap. 9, § 3, högskoleförordningen) • There is currently no legal possibility to take on a doctoral student “on trial”.
Why do different rules apply to doctoral students compared to employed? • According to Swedish law, a trial period of employment of six months is allowed. (The unions may have other legislations.) • Högskoleverket (National Agency for Higher Education) states, the employment as a doctoral student is only time-limited, the aim is to accomplish the studies and get a degree, not to receive normal employment security.
What values are at conflict? Career/rights of the student vs Career opportunities/future for the researcher More successful recruitments (better quality/less waste) vs Misuse and exploitation of students
Supervisor Chance to evaluate student before committing Can give a chance to unknown students Possible to extend project time
Supervisor Long process Uncertainty – difficult to plan long term Might miss out on students unwilling to accept conditions
PhD student Chance to test project and working with supervisor Other skills than those measurable on paper can be considered
PhD student No guarantee of acceptance What is the criteria for acceptable test period? - potential misusage Long process Uncertain legal status, unsecure financial situation, no social benefits Constant pressure to prove yourself
Society Bring something that is done today into the light Value for research money Increased movability
Society Clear rules to avoid misuse and mistreatment Violates the principle of higher education
Solutions? Could be acceptable in isolated cases but difficult to allow systematically – opportunities for misuses large Formalization of trial period with strict criteria. In the end potential for misuse to large. Stay with current system and apply it!