In addition to the basic program, students regularly meet in so-called Forum Days where they report on their research in progress to a group of fellow students, the ICS faculty, and external experts. At these occasions students can keep abreast of their colleagues’ activities. Exchange of ideas and criticism takes place, and new PhD students can get an impression of the state of affairs of other projects after one or several years. Because supervisors are present as well, comparison and mutual tuning of the level of the dissertations becomes possible.
Each PhD student is expected to present and discuss his/her research regularly, that is at least once a year. First year PhD students present a first description of their research as early as four months after they have started (the December Forum Day). As these proposals will be submitted for funding, they are subject to a careful internal referee procedure. Presentations are given at the ICS ‘Spring Day. Second year PhD students present their research progress in the Integration Course. Third and fourth year PhD students present a full fledged paper with results of their research at the November Forum Day. Ideally, this paper should lead to a chapter in the dissertation. PhD students not only present their own research project, but also act as referees for their fellows’ presentations. In this way, they are forced to dive into other research subjects and to apply general scientific requirements, and on the other hand they learn to answer questions raised from other scientific backgrounds or points of view than their own.