Looking back at the third KNAW-NWO event for Chinese PhD’s

On 24 November 2016, the Academy and NWO organised their third PhD event for Chinese PhD students in the Netherlands. The aim of the event was to explain the Dutch academic system and offer the students attending an opportunity to share their knowledge and experiences and to network with other PhD students and Dutch researchers. The event consisted of an interactive programme with interesting lectures, debates and workshops.

The day began with a warm welcome by chair Martin Stokhof, Mr Meng Qingyu, education counsellor at the Chinese embassy, and Roy Keesenberg, senior policy advisor for the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. Claartje van Sijl then explored the question ‘What is a PhD anyway?’ and introduced the group to the Socrates Relay. An interactive session then followed involving Mentimeter, with the audience answering the question ‘Why do a PhD?’.

After Van Sijl’s very entertaining lecture, Fang Yang talked about her own experiences and shared tips and tricks for ‘making a success of your career in the academic world after your PhD’. Fang Yang started by telling the audience about her own career path. She said that to make a success of an academic career, you have to be good at research, publishing articles, applying for funding, and leading/managing a team. She also pointed out an article entitled ‘Career Trends: Industry or Academia; where do I fit in?’.

After a coffee break, the group broke up for a series of lively interactive debates and workshops. Lei Zhang and Martin Stokhof led the debate on ‘getting published’. They illuminated both the academic side and the side of the publishers. Lei Zhang gave also a very interesting and informative presentation about the whole publishing process. A lively discussion ensued about ‘becoming an academic’. The debate revealed how to deal with the academic environment and raise awareness and understanding of this specific sphere of work.

In the workshop on scientific writing in the natural sciences, Harry Steinbusch gave PhD students tips on the writing process. It can be challenging to write a scientific article or a chapter of a PhD thesis in a new environment with different customs and codes than Chinese students are used to. At the end of the workshop, the PhD students learned how to structure or index an article or chapter of a scientific publication in the natural and life sciences.

In a similar workshop for the social sciences, Frank Pieke explained how to structure a PhD thesis in the social sciences, mentioning that practice made perfect in writing. He claimed that writer’s block only occurs when people study and read a lot – but never write!

In the ‘project management for PhD’s’ workshop, Brigitte Hertz let the participants make their own project plan, based on her own theory. At the end of the day, each participant received a copy of her book, which has a corresponding website. Titti Mariani and Hong Zhang discussed the expectations of PhD students and their supervisors. Titti Mariani said they had very animated discussions and that supervisors also learned from them.

The afternoon plenary session featured a presentation by James Yang, who made a successful career in industry, i.e. at ASML, after completing his PhD.

The plenary concluded with a talk by Zhenyu Gao, one of the 2014 Erasmus University Rotterdam fellows, on how PhDs can apply for grants to continue their post-graduate careers in the Netherlands. The NWO Veni grant received particular attention.

Martin Stokhof brought the event to a close by looking back at a very interactive programme full of inspiring lectures, practical workshops and interesting debates. 

Third KNAW-NWO PhD event: A photographic impression

Download high resolution photos by clicking on the image below. Re-use of these photographs must be accompanied by proper attribution: Inge Hoogland/KNAW.

Third KNAW-NWO PhD event: A photographic impression