Thesis Advisory Committee
Thesis Advisory Committee - mentoring program
The program in Biomedical Sciences uses the concept of the Thesis Advisory Committee (TAC) as a mentorship program. TAC aims to help PhD students in their professional advancement and enhance the overall quality of their work. It is a tool that students have to discuss different aspects of the PhD study progress with experts that can provide an unbiased point of view. Therefore, the Doctoral Board strongly recommends that each PhD student takes advantage of this mentorship program.
Here, the TAC Concept for the PhD students of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Cell and Tissue Morphology specialization. The TAC concept for the PhD students of Molecular Medicine specialization follows different rules that are summarized here.
Establishment of TAC
Shortly after the student´s admission into the PhD program (within the first year of the study), the TAC should be established. Setting up the TAC is a responsibility of each PhD student, and it should be done in a cooperation with the supervisor. Once the TAC is set up, the program coordinator should be informed about it using the document called TAC Members Proposal.
It is highly recommended that the TAC consists of at least three members: the supervisor and two additional members (ideally one of them is from another institution, or at least another faculty of MU). A specialist from abroad is beneficial. Each committee member must hold a doctorate. The committee should be maintained throughout the whole studies, but if needed, new members can be assigned later on during the studies.
Organization of TAC meeting(s)
Each PhD student should pass at least one TAC meeting within the first year of the study. The PhD student supported by the supervisor is responsible to invite the TAC members, arrange the TAC meeting, and provide the PhD program coordinator with the signed TAC Assessment Report.
The TAC meeting is meant to evaluate not only the student’s progress but also (and crucially) the quality of the supervision and the student-supervisor relationship. The thesis ADVISORY committee is there to give helpful advice, and as such, the student is encouraged to use the TAC whenever he/she feels the need of an external advice.
Two weeks before the TAC meeting, the student should submit a written progress report on the thesis project to all committee members. The report should be a brief summary of 2-4 pages describing the basic outline of the project and initial results. The report can have the following structure: project summary, introduction/background, research aims, experimental approaches, preliminary results, perspectives, technical hurdles and alternatives.
The TAC meeting begins with a short (15-20 min) presentation by the student, followed by a discussion with the TAC members. Student then leaves the room and the committee discusses student´s progress with the supervisor. Next, the supervisor leaves the room and the student can discuss freely with the committee about how he/she feels the PhD is going. Finally, the chairperson of the committee (any member apart from the supervisor) summarizes the meeting and finalizes the TAC Assessment Report. A signed version should be sent to the PhD program coordinator.
Finally, note that the main goal of the first TAC meeting is NOT to evaluate the amount of data you have produced since the start of the thesis. It is more important to show that the student has a solid grasp of the literature surrounding the topic and that he/she has a clear idea of what the objectives of the project are, how the project will evolve, and what the student will do in case something does not work out the way that was predicted. Importantly, TAC should also evaluate the quality of the supervision and address if the PhD student is facing any obstacles (on both professional or personal level).