COLUMN. For the first time, the work environment survey (ARK) at the University of Gothenburg (GU) now contains a sub-survey aimed specifically at Ph.D. students. All of us are now responsible, writes Emma Eckernäs of the Doctoral Student Council (DoR) in her column. She urges all doctoral students to participate in this survey of their work environment.
In many ways, being a Ph.D. student is — and to some extent should be — a challenge. You inhabit a kind of borderland, at once employed but also in training. This can generate a lot of confusion about what in fact is expected of you. Additionally, both stress and performance anxiety may often arise. To cope with the frequent tribulations of a Ph.D. student, it is therefore vital for the external factors favoring success to be optimal. I am referring, above all, to the doctoral student’s work environment.
Although I hope, and believe, that most Sahlgrenska Academy Ph.D. students enjoy their workplace, I know there is room for improvement. I personally have seen several examples of the work environment for doctoral students not meeting the requirements. For instance, the students may not feel they can take a vacation; some feel isolated and lack a natural sense of community at work; and there are some whose supervisors are nowhere to be found.
In Sahlgrenska Academy’s Doctoral Student Council (DoR) we work continuously, in close cooperation with groups like the Council for Doctoral Education (FUR), to monitor and, where necessary, improve doctoral students’ work situation. To do so in the best possible way, it is essential for us to know what these students’ situation is like. We are therefore extremely happy that this year’s work environment survey, for the first time, contains a sub-survey that directly targets Ph.D. students.
We doctoral students are going to receive two questionnaires: first, the one already sent to all the staff and second, shortly afterward, a brief supplementary one with questions about our doctoral education. The doctoral students’ part of ARK poses questions about our relationship with the supervisor, work on the thesis and other aspects characterizing the Ph.D. student’s role. This is a big step forward in the work to enhance doctoral students’ work environments and well-being. Additionally, the doctoral students’ questionnaire will go out to all collaborating Ph.D. students at Sahlgrenska Academy — something we are proud of having pushed through, jointly with FUR.
All of us Ph.D. students now bear this responsibility. It is up to us to take the time needed to complete this survey. About 15 minutes of your time spent doing so can affect your prospective work situation. Only through a proper survey of our work environment can we systematically promote and monitor efforts to establish the quality to which every Ph.D. student is entitled. So I want to urge you all to take this responsibility seriously.
The head of every workplace is the person who ensures that the ARK results lead to appropriate measures. Whether you are happy with your work environment or not, your answers are important to enable your boss to see what is good and what can be improved. The results of ARK will also determine which issues we in the DoR choose to prioritize in our upcoming work. So please ensure your voice is heard. Then, together, we can jointly create a work situation as agreeable as possible for all the Ph.D. students at Sahlgrenska Academy.