Crash course in navigating your PhD or postdoc



Jægtvolden Fjordhotell (outside Trondheim)


24-25 September


Registration is closed


  • Supervisor-student communication
  • Work environment
  • Know your rights
  • Identify your needs for personal productivity


Starting an academic career as a PhD or postdoc is often very rewarding as you get to immerse yourself in your favorite scientific challenges, learn new things every day and work with colleagues equally dedicated to science as yourself. However, it often comes with challenges or obstacles that could be related to the scientific work itself, or to the psychosocial work environment, for example problems communicating and collaborating with supervisors and colleagues. 

As a fresh (or seasoned) PhD student or postdoc, it is not always easy to be aware of all the written and unwritten rules in the academic setting, and many often lack experience in handling work related conflicts. Young researchers may react too late when conflict occur, which can make the situation difficult to turn around. In this course we will focus on the importance of a good psychosocial work environment and on how young researchers can influence their own situation at work. Our goal is to give the participants a set of tools to better prepare them for any challenging situation they may meet in the academic work environment, and to share positive experiences for an efficient and fruitful progression of their PhD or Postdoc.

Main topics

The program will cover four main topics:

Laws, rules, and regulations that covers the psychosocial work environment

Jon Wikende Iddeng, Forskerforbundet, USN School of Business

Jon is an adjunct professor at the USN school of business, but comes to this course in his capacity as an advisor for Forskerforbundet. Forskerforbundet is one of the unions available for academic workers. He will talk about the laws, rules and regulations that regulate short term contracts such as PhD and PostDoc contracts, with a focus on the psychosocial work environment. He will go through where the legal boundary goes for what can and cannot be expected of you and what the law says constitutes harassment. He will also go through the support systems that are in place and how to contact them if you need them. Any differences between different universities will also be covered.

“Basal needs” – a reflection on what you need to thrive at work 

Tore Stiles, professor (NTNU) and psychologist

If you know what you need to do a good job, it is also easier to pinpoint when some of those factors are missing. Tore will first give us a brief introduction before he leads us in group-based discussions on what are important factors for a well-functioning work environment, especially in an academic setting. The goal is become more aware of one’s own needs for both academic productivity and a good social work environment. We will also have room for discussions on any common challenges or great strategies that the course participants may have.

Boundaries and communication

Borgny Hedvig Wold, Occupational Health Services, NTNU

After Tore’s session, we should all have a better sense of what we need to be content at work. But how do we communicate that to our supervisor and group members? Borgny will talk about how to communicate your needs, and how to set your own boundaries in an academic setting. She will provide us with practical tools that can help getting your point across.

Communication, different types of leaders and means of suppression (hersketeknikker) 

Petter Bakken, Coach

Petter will talk about how you can adapt your communication style to different people, in particular different types of leaders. How to best get your point across will always depend on the person you are communicating with and to being aware of how people with different personality traits communicate can be very helpful. Petter will also go through some common means of suppression (hersketeknikker in Norwegian) and how to both recognize them and most effectively counter them in a conversation/discussion. 

Practical matters

The course is organized by Digital Life Norway Research School and the Norwegian Research School in Neuroscience. There will be maximum 30 places available, 15 per research school. All participants will be accommodated at Jægtvolden Fjordhotell in single or double rooms, at the cost of the research schools. After the application deadline, you will receive information on whether you have a place in the course or not. Please wait with booking of flights etc. until you receive this information.


Contact the organizers:
Nina Bjørk Arnfinnsdottir, postdoc, NTNU
Liv Egnell, PhD-candidate, NTNU
Liv E. Falkenberg, coordinator, Digital Life Norway Research School
Norwegian Research School in Neuroscience

    Published Oct. 12, 2020 4:00 PM - Last modified Sep. 21, 2021 11:08 AM