"Arrive at a good research plan through discussion"

Helena Karlström is a senior research fellow and docent at the Centre for Alzheimer Research at the Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society.

What are the greatest advantages of being a doctoral student at Karolinska Institutet?Bild av Helena Karlström, KI.
– The greatest advantage is probably that Karolinska Institutet has a wide range of very high quality courses and programmes. Doctoral education lasts three years in other countries, but here it is four and can be perceived as rather hard as we ask a lot of doctoral students. Another advantage of completing your doctoral education at Karolinska Institutet is that our university has such great reputation internationally and this can be of value if you want to go on to conduct research abroad.

How does the doctoral student–supervisor relationship work here at KI?
– The doctoral student and the supervisor are mutually dependent on each other, it is therefore important that the expectations of both parties are clear. Supervisors need to be thoroughly committed to their doctoral students and have enough time for them.

Can you tell us a little more about Karolinska Institutet’s supervisor training?
– The compulsory supervisor training lasts one week and deals with a variety of aspects like recruitment, admission, non-discrimination, research ethics, documentation, diversity and intercultural communication. These aspects are enhanced through the role-playing activities we perform.

Any advice for those who will be doing their doctoral education at Karolinska Institutet?
– Think through what you are interested in and make sure you are very involved in arriving at a good research plan through discussion with your supervisor so that it is realistic, but still challenging in terms of the schedule. In that way you’ll be prepared for hard work and periods in which not everything is running smoothly, but above all you will gain a great deal of knowledge, experience and a network you’ll have for the rest of your life.