The Thesis Advisory Committee (TAC)

(as of 1 March 2024 | Applies to doctoral students who have started their doctoral/PhD studies in SS 2024 or later)


The role of the Thesis Advisory Committee (TAC) is not only to discuss and evaluate the progress of the dissertation through regular meetings with the doctoral candidate, but also to provide advice and support to the doctoral candidate throughout the duration of the dissertation project. In particular, the TAC provides external advice to the doctoral candidate and their supervisor(s). The TAC also provides formalised support for resolving any conflicts that may arise between the doctoral candidate, the supervisor(s) and other members of the research/training team.

The annual meeting of the TAC is summarised in writing. The summary is attached to the annual progress report of the dissertation project.

Composition of the TAC

  • The doctoral candidate
  • The supervisor(s)
  • 2-3 advisor(s) selected by the doctoral candidate.
    • should be very experienced in the relevant research area of the topic of the dissertation, so that they can provide substantial feedback during the process;
    • should be at least at the senior postdoc level and should have profound research experience.

It is recommended to select one internal (= from the University of Vienna) and one external advisor who are not actively collaborating with the doctoral candidate (e.g. holding a joint grant).

Important note: TAC members are not allowed to assess the dissertation.

The annual TAC meeting

Organisation of the TAC meeting

  • The first TAC meeting should take place within the first 12 months of the candidate’s enrolment on the doctoral programme, ideally well in advance of the public presentation (FÖP), to provide an opportunity to discuss the research proposal (often referred to as the exposé) written for the FÖP (download exposé template here).
  • After the FÖP, the TAC will meet at least once a year, ideally close to the submission date of the annual progress report until the dissertation is completed, and may meet more frequently if needed.
  • The TAC meeting is organised by the doctoral candidate. In order to provide a basis for discussion, it is recommended that the doctoral candidate sends the completed annual progress report form DZ/V2 and the draft/submitted/published paper(s) for peer-reviewed publication OR the (draft) monograph chapters by e-mail to all TAC members at least two weeks before the meeting.
  • The TAC meetings are not open to the public and are chaired by a TAC member appointed by the doctoral candidate.
  • Optional: If requested, the Executive Manager of PhaNuSpo may act as chair as a neutral person. Please send an e-mail to if this is needed.
  • After the meeting, a short summary must be submitted to as an annex to the annual progress report, documenting the date, participants, main issues discussed and agreed, and recommendations. Please use the TAC minutes template (will be provided within the next few days).

TAC meeting format

  1. The doctoral candidate should give a short presentation, consisting of an introduction, the main key proof-of-principle experiments/empirical studies, etc. carried out and results obtained, achievements, timetable, as well as challenges or adaptations in the plan. The presentation should focus on the key points that the committee needs to assess for the dissertation project.
  2. This is followed by a discussion of about 15-30 minutes on
    i)   the project, its progress and completion, and
    ii)  the development of the doctoral candidate, career planning and any difficulties encountered.
  3. Feedback round 1 without the supervisor(s), i.e. the doctoral candidate + advisor(s).
  4. Feedback round 2 without the doctoral candidate, i.e. the supervisor(s) + advisor(s).
  5. Summary and feedback session.

TAC meeting: guideline for the TAC members

TAC discussion and assessment of

  • What are the doctoral candidate’s goals, achievements, problems?
  • Is the doctoral candidate well on track to become an independent researcher?
  • Is the proposed plan realistic?

The TAC will assess whether

  • the expectations and perceptions of progress of the doctoral candidate and supervisor(s) align;
  • regular meetings take place;
  • resources and support are provided or targeted, and
  • if the publication(s) and/or writing the dissertation and the public defence go as planned and the plan is realistic.

The TAC will offer

  • To monitor the progress of the dissertation project: What is the main progress and what are the potential bottlenecks?
  • Feedback on the proposed outlook, taking into account the timeline.
  • Feedback on career perspectives and prospects.

 PhaNuSpo TAC guidelines and meeting minutes as of 1 March 2024

 Previous TAC Guideline (for the period 03/2021 - 03/2024)