Section Information Systems (IS)

What should you do if you wish to continue research (after the master) and obtain a PhD?

This information is only intended for the brightest 5% of the students, who have the talent and the ambition to become leaders in the field of Information Systems, either by leading research and development teams in industry or by becoming professors who train the next generation of Information Systems students.

In order to obtain a PhD (the highest degree that exists at this time) you need to complete a PhD research project. The two main hurdles to overcome in order to obtain a PhD are 1) to find a research topic and a promotor for that research, and 2) to find the financial means that are needed for you to survive and live a sober life filled not only with research but with a place to stay and sleep and money for food.

In the Netherlands there are almost no PhD research grants for which you can apply as a candidate PhD student. There are competitions for research project proposals (at the national and european level) and PhD candidates apply to approved projects. This implies that whether you can do (paid) PhD research depends on the university (or in this case the WE group) receiving research grants at the right time for you to become a good candidate for an approved project. This is inherently an uncertain process, but it is also a process that takes a long time. It is therefore important that you notify the WE group (through WE staff members, one of the full professors, or the coordinator) at a very early stage that you are interested in continuing on for a PhD. You should at least notify the coordinator when discussing interests and possible topics and mentors for your master project, so that you can start preparing for a PhD during your master project and so that the WE group can prepare grant applications in an effort to obtain funding by the time you are ready to start a PhD.

Because of the competitive nature of the research community and the process of obtaining research grants you may have to look at PhD positions at other universities, or at alternative funding possibilities (perhaps through industry). A good starting point is to subscribe to the Dbworld mailing list. Information on this list is currently available at http://www.cs.wisc.edu/dbworld.