GK SOCLIFE - Statements about SOCLIFE

Alexander Schmidt (Former member and representative of the SOCLIFE cohort 2009)

Writing a PhD thesis in three years can be quite demanding. GK SOCLIFE provides an extremely helpful environment to meet this challenge.

The three year program starts with a series of intense methodological and theoretical courses. Since students are expected to come up with an expedient research plan after a short time, these courses are extremely helpful for orientation. The methodological training helps to acquire the knowledge that is needed for an empirically well-grounded PhD study. For students who need highly specialised courses the program offers the possibility to take courses or attend summer schools outside of GK SOCLIFE. PhD students benefit from mentoring by two supervisors, regular workshops and research seminars where PhD students get feedback from all GK SOCLIFE members. Throughout the whole program, GK SOCLIFE fosters the exchange of knowledge by bringing together senior scholars and young academics from different fields and supports its students in their attempts to publish their work in high ranking journals.

In addition to this formal guidance, students in the GK SOCLIFE program are usually working together. They discuss their work with other students and are happy to help each other. Without doubt, I can say that the atmosphere between the students is very amicable and cooperative. The enormous expertise is another point that makes GK SOCLIFE an interesting and fruitful program.

All in all, the GK SOCLIFE program is quite ambitious but it is also a great opportunity to begin a successful academic career.

Photo: Helmar Mildner
Annelene Wengler (Representative of the SOCLIFE cohort 2008)

I entered GK SOCLIFE as a student of the first cohort in October 2008. I specifically applied for a research training group since I wanted to make sure that I would have enough time for my dissertation (with no other responsibilities) and that I would get it done in a reasonable amount of time.  Also the fact that I would not have to obtain my doctorate working alone in some library or at home and becoming alienated from the outside world played a role in my decision. In this sense GK SOCLIFE met my expectations but has also surpassed them in various ways. I found a stimulating and demanding research environment which gives me the opportunity to broaden my methodological repertoire as well as work intensively on my dissertation. The students in the first and second cohort deal with quite diverse research fields which at times can be quite fruitful and allows for cooperation across disciplines. This semester we have established a weekly research seminar which gives all students the opportunity to present their work, not only to students, but also to professors and external guests. When first entering the program every student is also assigned a second/ third year student as a mentor which helps with the orientation in the beginning.  So among the students of the program itself and through conferences and workshops one can find several opportunities to network and exchange ideas. In this sense GK SOCLIFE gives me the opportunity to thoroughly work on my dissertation in a well-funded and well-equipped environment.