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Guidelines for doctoral study in the field of botany

These guidelines have been set by the Doctoral Board for the field of botany primarily as recommendations to aid doctoral students. The guidelines are based on the Universities Act, the Charles University Study and Examination Regulations, the Charles University Scholarship Regulations, and the Study Organization Rules of the Faculty of Science.

Regulations for doctoral studies: http://www.natur.cuni.cz/faculty/studium/agenda-phd/predpisy/ (currently available only in Czech).

Principles

  • Doctoral study is primarily independent study of the candidate under the supervision of an advisor, in which research plays a primary role, culminating in a dissertation which is presented to the academic community.

  • Doctoral programs include participation at specialized lectures and seminars of doctoral candidates.

  • The presentation form of study includes participation in the scientific events of the department.

  • During the course of doctoral study, the Doctoral Board will comment at least once a year.

  • The doctoral study of botany is accredited jointly for the Charles University Faculty of Science (PřF UK) and the Botanical Institute (Botanický ústav AV ČR).

Requirements for admission

  • Prerequisites for study, independent scientific work, and level of professional knowledge are demonstrated verbally during an interview with the admissions committee.

  • The admissions committee typically consists of 3-5 members; all members of the Doctoral Board may participate in the admissions process.

  • Other conditions for the admissions process and detailed requirements are established each year by the Dean of the Faculty and can be found on the website of the Faculty of Science’s doctoral program.

  • For the admissions process the applicant will present the committee a proposal of the topic and content of the dissertation work in written and electronic form. This proposal must be initialed by the anticipated advisor expressing his/her approval of the proposed research. The proposed dissertation must address the scientific contribution of the topic, its feasibility, possible sources of financing, and integration with current teams in the field; typically the proposal consists of 1-3 pages of text. (The proposal may be structured according to the guidelines for the doctoral work plan).

  • This general presentation on the work topic will last about 10 minutes and will be part of the entrance examination. In addition to the expertise of the applicant, the admissions committee will evaluate this presentation, the interest and relevance of the topic, its relation to work going on in the field and the conceptual clarity of the proposed work.

  • The participation of the potential advisor is desirable during the admissions process. His/her interest and opinion are an important guide for the decision of the admissions committee. The presence of the potential advisor during the admissions process shall be arranged by the applicant.

  • An applicant will not be admitted to the program, particularly if:

    • The applicant has not selected a specific topic with a specific advisor

    • The applicant has not convinced the admissions committee that the proposed topic is sufficiently viable and that it may be used as the foundation for defensible doctoral work

    • The applicant has not demonstrated the necessary prerequisites for study and independent scientific work

    • If a candidate fails to successfully complete the doctoral program (i.e. does not submit or defend work) he or she will be only be re-admitted in exceptional cases. In such case, it is necessary during the admissions interview to present the results of the previous work, while at the same time demonstrating a guarantee that the study will be duly completed. Such students are only admitted for part-time study programs.

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Doctoral study plan

  • The study plan is created by the candidate together with the advisor and the head of the facility where the dissertation work will be carried out. The candidate will submit the doctoral study plan to the Doctoral Board via SIS within the deadline established by PřF UK. The Doctoral Board will assess the plan and approve it according to the schedule set by the Dean.

  • This plan will contain:

  • The planned course of research activity including study stays, internships and recommended literature.

  • The titles of specialized lectures/courses in which the candidate will participate and the completion dates of these, ideally planned so that the majority are completed during the first 4 semesters. The Doctoral Board may request that the proposed study plan be supplemented with additional specialized lectures or courses so that the level of knowledge by the end of study meets the desired standards of PřF UK. It is desirable for the selected courses to pertain to the topic of dissertation work. Priority should be given to courses organized for doctoral students (not masters lectures). All courses must list the lecturer and the facility which is orga nizing it.

  • The general date of the state doctoral examination, generally in the 3-4th semester of study. This must be planned so that other partial examinations are completed before the state doctoral examination.

  • The study plan must also include the doctoral work plan, stating the main objectives and methods of the work. This should be prepared according to the guidelines for the doctoral work plan.

  • The study plan may be altered and further specified with the consent of the Doctoral Board.

  • Any change in the topic of doctoral work must be approved by the Doctoral Board. The proposal for a change in topic must contain a statement from the advisor. In such case, the Doctoral Board will assess whether a new study plan will be required; if so, the candidate will be notified.

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Requirements of doctoral students during their studies

  • Work on the dissertation. This is evaluated by the advisor, whose assessment is included in the candidate’s annual report to the Doctoral Board.

  • By the end of the second semester the doctoral candidate must present his/her topic in a special seminar, where there will be public discussion of the topic of the doctoral work. This seminar is generally attended by the candidate’s advisor.

  • Defense of the report on work during the first year of study before a committee appointed by the Doctoral Board at the end of the first year.

  • State doctoral examinations, generally during the 3-4th semester of study.

  • By the end of the fifth semester, the candidate will present the results of his/her project and the outlook for the remaining study time at a specialized seminar of doctoral candidates. This typically takes place during the examination period of the winter semester. This seminar is generally held in English. Before this presentation (the exact data of which will be determined by the Doctoral Board) the candidate will submit to the Doctoral Board tangible results of his/her project (articles, article manuscripts, posters, etc.).

  • Presentation of the results of doctoral work to the professional public. During 3 years (4 years for a part-time course of study) the candidate must present his/her results at least once (in the form of a poster or lectures) at a reputable international conference (generally abroad). Over the same period, he/she must publish at least one contribution in a reputable professional periodical.

  • The scheduling of doctoral examinations and presentations at specialized doctoral seminars is generally pushed back one year for students with combined studies (doctoral examination in the 5-6th semester, seminar presentation after 7 semesters); such students may request the Doctoral Board for other possible extensions of these deadlines.

  • Passing of examinations prescribed by the study plan.

  • Students are expected to take an active part in the scientific events of the Department, especially regular department seminars and specialized doctoral seminars.

  • Teaching activity at the department is not a study requirement for doctoral candidates. However, it is desirable that during their studies doctoral candidates participate to a reasonable degree in teaching activities.

  • The Doctoral Board recommends that every student spend at least three months abroad at a foreign academic institution.

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Evaluation of doctoral candidates during their studies

  • The Doctoral Board will regularly evaluate the activity of students, at least once a year. At this time, it will look at the results of examinations and evaluate whether the student is fulfilling every aspect of the study plan.

  • The success of a student during and at the end of his/her studies is evaluated largely according to publication activity related to the doctoral work and the presentation of the results of the work to the scientific community. Successful students are expected to be able to conduct independent research and scientifically communicate in English, including publications in international magazines.

  • Materials used for assessment are prepared by the candidate in the form of annual activity reports. This report, including commentary from the advisor, is submitted to the Doctoral Board within the deadlines established by the Dean (generally at the end of September) via SIS. All doctoral candidates, both full-time and part-time students, must submit activity reports for the entire duration of their studies.

  • If a student fails to submit an activity report within the given deadline, then this is considered a failure to meet the obligations of the study plan. In such case, the Doctoral Board will propose the student be expelled from the program.

  • Doctoral candidates are also evaluated based on their presentations at seminars and other activities at the workplace.

  • At the end of the first year, doctoral candidates defend their report on work during their first year of study before a committee appointed by the Doctoral Board. Based upon this meeting, the committee notifies the Doctoral Board wither the student has met the study requirements for the first year of study.

  • The doctoral candidate is also evaluated based on his/her specialized seminar presentation during the third year of study

  • The results of the evaluation of doctoral students are used by the Doctoral Board in its other activities, particularly its guidance of the doctoral studies program (pointing out shortcomings, proposed changes to stipend amounts, exceptional stipends, proposed expulsions from the program, etc.).

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State doctoral examination

  • The state doctoral examination must be taken according to the specifications of the given study plan, usually during the 3-4th semester for full-time students. The request to take the state doctoral examination is submitted in writing by the student to the department of doctoral studies.

  • The examination is taken in front of an examination commission and is not formally or factually similar to the state masters examination. Rather, it is adapted to the specific topic of the student. The doctoral examination demonstrates (i) a general overview of the entire discipline of botany (on the application the student should list “Botany” as the subject) and (ii) detailed knowledge in the field of doctoral work (list “Topic of Doctoral Work” or possibly a shortened title on the application).

  • Aside from these two basic subjects, the candidate will specify another field of interest on the application, generally one of the following: Algology, Mycology, Lichenology, Bryology, Phytopathology, Ecology of Algae, Ecology of Fungi, Ecology of Lichens and Mosses, System and Evolution of Higher Plants, Biosystematics, Reproductive biology, Molecular markers, Numeric Methods in Taxonomy, Vegetation of Central Europe, Ecology of Plants, Earth Biomes, Community Ecology, Paleoecology, Population Biology of Plants, Phytogeography.

  • With the application for the doctoral examination, the student must submit an analysis of the current state of the doctoral work, including the initial definition of the objectives of the work, commentary on current methods used, planned changes in the research etc. (the length of this analysis should be approx. 10 pages). This description can include articles already published or prepared to which the introductory analysis will refer. This paper must be submitted to the committee chair at least 14 days before the examination is to take place.

  • If the student does not pass the examination, the examination committee will generally recommend areas of study and literature to focus on. Repeat examinations are taken by the student in the same subject as the original examination. A new analysis of work must also be submitted.

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Form of dissertation work

  • The form of dissertation work is governed by the PřF UK Rules for Organizing Study

  • The form of dissertation work expected in the field of botany is a manuscript written in English, composed of at least three thematically related texts in the format of scientific articles, tied together by an introduction to the topic and a conclusion. At least one of these articles must be published or accepted for publication in an internationally recognized scientific magazine (this is generally understood to be a magazine with an ISI impact factor; magazines with an IF in the lower fourth of the particular category defined by ISI are only suitable in well justified cases). Acceptance for publication must be documented in some credible manner. The introduction must be a significant portion of the work (the length of an average article) and must thoroughly present the framework and relevance of the topic, the objective of the work, and it must place the individual articles into the overall context. All of the sections mentioned (introduction, articles published/accepted for publication, unpublished texts in article format) must be part of the actual dissertation text (not appended to it).

  • All parts of the dissertation must be formatted in the same manner. For articles published/accepted for publication, it is not possible to use PDF files with the magazine copyright.

  • If the dissertation includes publications which were collaborative efforts with other authors, the work must include declarations of other co-authors stating the student’s share in the results. The share of the student in the collective work must be substantial, both in terms of collecting and processing data, as well as its interpretation in the preparation of the manuscript.

  • An outline must be appended to the dissertation work, the form of which is specified by the relevant Dean’s Measure. The outline must include an introduction to the topic, a summary of the primary research results, a list of publications of the candidate and his/her professional resume. At least 20 copies of the outline must be provided.

  • Successfully defended work is published on the university server. When submitting work for defense, it is advisable in cooperation with the advisor to request an extension of the deadline for publishing the entire work to the permissible limit (1.5 years).

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Completing study

  • The maximum time of study in the doctoral study program is set forth in the study regulations.

  • An applicant becomes a student in the doctoral program on the day of registration at the Faculty.

  • The day of completion of doctoral studies is the day on which the dissertation work is defended. It follows from the provisions of the Study and Examination Rules that during the maximum study period it is necessary to pass the state doctoral examination and defend the dissertation (it is not enough to simply submit the dissertation work).

  • Failure to meet this requirement will terminate study due to failure to meet the requirements of the study program. The Rules for the Organization of Study state that the dissertation work must be submitted for defense no later than eighteen weeks before the end of the maximum study period.

  • If a graduate student decides for any reason to cease studies, it is necessary to notify the PřF UK department of doctoral studies of such decision in writing (addressed to the competent vice-dean with copies for the Doctoral Board).

These guidelines are effective as of 1.1.2011

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