Doctoral training is primarily a Training-by-doing approach in the area of research. The doctoral candidate conducts, under the scientific direction of his supervisor, a research project within a reference duration (usually 3 years), set before the first registration.
Thus, a doctoral candidate is entrusted to assume a high level scientific and technical research project of large proportions (it mobilizes at least one full-time worker and coaching over a long period). Even if the doctoral candidate is under the control and responsibility of the supervisor, the doctoral candidate is considered as the project lead of this doctoral project, because :
- he is the one who is accountable for the progress of his projet (for annual registration, for the defense of the thesis)
- he must master its duration and manage its completion within the duration provided initially or justify the need for an extension of its duration,
- he is the author of the thesis.
- It is expected that a doctoral candidate take initiatives and advances in his work relatively autonomously. The supervisor has a key role in defining the subject and the research process, but gradually the autonomy of the doctoral candidate increases and he gradually takes responsibility for his doctoral project.
Autonomy does not mean working alone, quite the contrary. The supervisor trains the doctoral candidate to research, to develop working methods needed for each researcher, but transferable to other occupations, among which are essential critical exchange, to learn from each other through exchange with peers and international experts in the field and of the latter interfaces. The doctoral candidate becomes an independent scientist particularly when he has learned to elicit critical feedback from its network and to use them wisely, working with experts to share their results, to publish etc.
Finally, a doctoral candidate develops innovative project management skills and behavioral skills which can be asserted after his thesis for his professional future.
For the PhD admission, it is expected that each candidate shall present and defend his project before a Jury.
Each applicant must be able to emphasize the challenges and the ambition of his project, demonstrating its feasibility and consistency. He must present the research process he intends to follow, the methods to be used, the main steps of the project, its timetable, potential risks involved etc.
This exercise allows each doctoral candidate starting his PhD in having identified the key characteristics of his doctoral project and have already received a first external critical review by the Jury.
After admission, the doctoral project, like any project, is generally referred to evolve.