Thesis Advisory Commitee

A Thesis Advisory Committee (TAC) supports a doctoral researcher by providing complementary and expert feedback and monitoring supervisory practices. Members of the TAC always include the supervisor(s), and can additionally comprise non-supervisory faculty and external academics.

  • The establishment and composition of a TAC must be negotiated with the supervisor(s).
  • Once potential members have been identified, the researcher or supervisor should ask them to become TAC members. If they agree to accept this responsibility, the researcher must inform the VDP ( of the composition of the TAC.
  • TAC members are expected to meet with doctoral researchers at least once per semester.
  • Collaboration can take many forms, e.g. discussions of career plans; discussions of ideas; discussions of written drafts, papers, or chapters of the dissertation; co-publications, etc. It is up to the individuals involved to decide how best to work together. Once agreed upon, working arrangements should be reviewed and adjusted as needed.
  • The VDP will issue certificates to postdoctoral researchers who have served as TAC members.

A Suggestion for the Organization of a TAC

The TAC acts as a review panel and allows for any scientific or otherwise problems to be aired and discussed as appropriate. It must evaluate the PhD candidate’s progress and give external advice to the PhD candidate and his/her supervisor(s). It offers formalized support and a ‘protected space’ to resolve possible conflicts between PhD candidates, supervisors, and other research/training members.

TAC Composition:

  • PhD candidate
  • The supervisor(s)
  • Non-supervisory faculty and/or external academics 

Possible Meeting Organization:

  • A TAC meeting of 30-90 minutes is organized by the PhD candidate (time and location)
  • A TAC meeting can be planned as a single event or embedded in an already existing department or research group meeting. But we'd recommend a 'protected space' of about 30 minutes for the TAC members only.

Possible Meeting Format:

  • A presentation by the candidate, including an introduction, report on progress, and timeline. The presentation focuses on the key points of the project to be discussed and assessed by TAC members (15 minutes)
  • A discussion about the project, progress, closure, etc. (30 minutes)
  • A private conversation between PhD Candidate and TAC members other than supervisor(s) (15 minutes)
  • A private conversation between Supervisor(s) and TAC members other than the PhD candidate (15 minutes)
  • Feedback of the TAC to PhD Candidate and supervisor (15 minutes)

Topics for Discussion and Assessment: 

  • What are the PhD candidate goals/achievements/problems?
  • Is the PhD candidate on a good track to become an independent scientist?
  • Is the proposed plan realistic?

The TAC will monitor that:

  • Expectations and progress perception of PhD candidate and supervisor(s) are aligned
  • Regular meetings are happening
  • Resources and support are in place or targeted
  • Proposed plan for publication(s) and/or the PhD thesis writing and defense

The TAC will offer:

  • Monitor project progression: what is the major progress and what are potential bottlenecks?
  • Outlook: what are the goals for the next year?
  • Feedback on the proposed outlook, keeping in mind the timeline