Evaluation

ABRI has established requirements to ensure that PhD candidates are prepared to meet the high standards of scholarship. These requirements are marked by significant milestones to help candidates to measure their achievements.

The milestones of a PhD trajectory include:

1. First-year evaluation (at 9 months of a 4-year trajectory)
2. Midterm evaluation (at 1.5 years before the end, for everyone)
3. Submission and defense of the PhD dissertation (at the end, for everyone)

1. The first-year evaluation (for 4-year PhDs, JRs)

The first-year evaluation is carried out at the end of the ninth month of the candidate's appointment, and is typically scheduled during the first week of June, often linked to an annual assessment / performance evaluation. Its purpose is to assess whether the candidate is on track, has made sufficient progress regarding the theory development, planning and conducting of his/her empirical investigation(s). The evaluation includes:

  • Assessment of the 1st year Progress Portfolio
  • An evaluation presentation
  • An evaluation conversation with supervisors/promoters

The 1st year Progress Portfolio
The 1st year Progress Portfolio includes:

  • An academic paper (either theoretical or empirical) with the PhD candidate as the first author.
  • The (revised) PhD proposal defining the study topic, approach and a work plan through which to accomplish it
  • The training and guidance plan that is filled in at the beginning of the appointment and which should be executed by now. This implies that there is a list of required skills and competencies, of courses that would help to develop those missing skills, and of completed (ABRI) courses (which should at least have a value of 30EC).

The progress portfolio needs to be submitted by May 1st to the Director of Doctoral Education. All proposals are sent to two external (national or international) reviewers nominated by the promoter(s).

The evaluation presentation
The purpose of the evaluation presentation is to publicly defend one's PhD proposal. The presentation should address the progress regarding the theory development related to the PhD project, a comprehensive overview of studies (incl. approaches, design, and a data collection strategy), and planning.

The evaluation conversation with supervisors
Based on the results from the 1st year Progress Portfolio and the Evaluation Presentation, supervisors conduct an evaluation conversation with their PhD candidate(s). The purpose of this evaluation is to assess the candidate's performance, to discuss progress to date, to signal any problems with the work of the candidate and/or the project in time, and to plan subsequent activities. The conversation, usually in the form of an annual performance evaluation, is recorded in the FEWEB's annual performance evaluation form, and is submitted to the Personnel Department of the faculty.

For participants of the junior research programme and the research master Business in Society, this first-year evaluation is already, though slightly different, incorporated into their programmes and in the application process for a 3-year PhD position.

2. Midterm evaluation
Halfway, at 1,5 years before the end of the PhD trajectory, PhD candidates move into the final stage of their research appointment. During the final 1,5 years, candidates need to focus on finalizing their studies, carrying out any complementary studies in case such are required, and to focus on writing articles and compiling their dissertation. This is also the time when PhD candidates should start thinking about their future career move. If they want to continue an academic career they need to prepare their ‘showcase’ job market paper.

ABRI's midterm evaluation is aimed at assisting candidates in planning the final stage of their PhD trajectory. This involves:

  • A presentation of their showcase or core paper of the intended dissertation during the ABRI PhD Day (in March). They will receive feedback on the paper and presentation by senior faculty within ABRI.
  • A career development conversation (e.g., future placement) with supervisors.

Presentations are scheduled each year in March at the ABRI PhD Day, which involves a day of consecutive presentations. All presentations are open to both internal and external participants. The day is used to showcase research conducted by ABRI's Doctoral researchers. Each presentation involves a 20-minute presentation from a PhD candidate and a 20-minute discussion with the audience, initiated by the reviewers.

In the same period of time, supervisors are expected to carry out a career development conversation with their candidates. This conversation can also be initiated by a candidate at any other time during his/her PhD trajectory. The aim of such conversation is to help the candidate start thinking about his/her future placement. Examples of topics covered by this conversation are: Where to search for academic vacancies? Which business schools and universities might be most suitable for the candidate? How to approach a job application?

3. Submission and defense of the PhD dissertation

It is expected that PhD candidates complete and submit their PhD dissertation to the reading committee no later than the second half of the last year of their PhD trajectory. The dissertation needs to be submitted in the form of a book. All PhD dissertations are issued as part of ABRI PhD dissertations series, to which the ABRI House style applies.

The PhD dissertation may be written and presented in two forms:

  • As a compilation of (at least) 4 articles, published or submitted to a reputable international peer-reviewed academic journals. These articles need to be supplemented by additional introductory and concluding chapters.
  • As a research book with at least 4 core chapters which describe research conducted during one’s PhD trajectory. These chapters need to be supplemented by additional introductory and concluding chapters.


After supervisors have given their initial approval to a PhD dissertation, it is sent to an international reading committee. The reading committee is nominated by supervisors and is formally invited via the VU Pedel/beadle. The reading committee members are expected to submit their elaborate feedback on a dissertation within four weeks of receipt. Upon approval of the PhD dissertation by the reading committee, the PhD candidate is invited to publicly defend his/her work toward a PhD degree.