Interested in TRIBE? The most important information

Why you should choose the TRIBE PhD program?
According to measurable performance indicators, the TRIBE PhD program is the most successful PhD program at the University of Split School of Medicine. TRIBE has the highest success rate in the number of completed doctorates. Also, it is the only PhD program at the University of Split School of Medicine that has received a high-quality seal from the Agency for Science and Higher Education (ASHE) at the re-accreditation of PhD studies conducted in December 2016. Apart from the TRIBE program, only one other PhD program in Croatia got the same high-quality seal from the ASHE during that re-accreditation cycle in the field of biomedicine and health. 
Therefore, if you want an excellent PhD education, in a successful PhD program, with dedicated program directors, you should be interested in enrolling in TRIBE.

The success rate of students enrolled in TRIBE
By March 8, 2024, there were 89 PhD theses defended at the TRIBE program. If we do not count the students from the last three academic years who are still attending classes (because the PhD program lasts three years), from 2010/2011 to 2020/2021 (the first 11 generations), 146 students were enrolled at TRIBE, and 15 were disenrolled. So, among students who were still enrolled, and excluding those enrolled in the last three academic years, 89/131 (67.9%) students enrolled in TRIBE completed their doctorates, and we are very proud of that. These are better results than the average results of doctoral students in the United States.

Who is the best candidate for enrollment in the TRIBE program?
The essential characteristics of prospective students are motivation, a scientifically productive mentor, and a detailed protocol of studies planned for the doctoral thesis. 
If you recognize yourself in those characteristics (or you have a good plan for getting there), please, contact us at any time of the year; we love to talk to potential new students. The TRIBE program has very high expectations from students and mentors from the outset. To apply for enrollment, students and mentors need to prepare protocols of at least two related research studies in English that they intend to conduct during the PhD program. The research protocols sent to us by students and mentors are critically evaluated as soon as candidates contact us. The goal is to help candidates and mentors design feasible study protocols with high methodological quality. Assessment of your research protocols may involve a lot of questions from our side, and we may propose changes to the study protocol. We may ask for several revisions of your protocols. Once we consider the study protocols to be of sufficient quality, we will approve your enrollment in the TRIBE program. We do all this to ensure that we are enrolling students who have a high chance of successfully defending their doctorates within 3 years.
Thus, TRIBE is an intensive PhD program that enrolls a small number of students, with whom we work intensively even before enrollment, whose progress is closely monitored, and who appreciate constructive criticism.

Are we competent to evaluate your research protocol?
Several times, it has happened to us that candidates and mentors were offended after receiving our feedback on their research proposals. They would not even answer our questions and comments; they would comment that TRIBE program directors are not competent to evaluate their research. 
We would like to assure you that we can recognize severe methodological problems, poor methodology descriptions, hypotheses not in line with objectives, research aims that cannot be addressed with the proposed methods, outdated literature cited, and other prominent research problems.
If necessary, we include other teachers of the TRIBE program in the evaluation of research proposals. Sometimes we send research proposals for external review, performed by experts in the field. 
It is in your best interest to have someone else peer-review your research protocols before enrolling in the PhD program. When you receive our comments, if you think that we misunderstood something, you can clarify that for us. We will all benefit from this dialogue.

The crucial part of applying for enrollment: research protocols and an excellent mentor
If you have completed an undergraduate degree, there is no doubt that you will also successfully pass all exams in graduate school. However, you will not become a PhD without completing your research and publishing papers. The University of Split School of Medicine has strict criteria for defending a PhD title. Candidates need to publish at least two manuscripts in journals indexed in Current Contents or Web of Science, whose Journal Impact Factor (JIF) is above 1, and in which the candidate is the first author. To meet this requirement, you need a mentor who will have the time for you and is scientifically productive. Therefore, the condition for enrolling in TRIBE is to prepare detailed research protocols that you intend to conduct and secure an excellent mentor.

Why should a candidate prepare protocols for at least two studies in English to apply for TRIBE?
At the last re-accreditation of doctoral studies, the general criticism of the re-accreditation committee for all doctoral studies was that many doctorates were based on only one small study. Therefore, at TRIBE, we decided to respond to this criticism of the re-accreditation committee by deciding that in the future, candidates should apply for TRIBE with protocols of at least two related studies written in English. 
By conducting at least two studies on a related topic, the doctoral thesis will be better; the student will gain more experience conducting and publishing research. 
The protocol is written in English because you will have to publish your manuscripts in a journal in English one day. Therefore, writing a protocol for TRIBE, which includes writing introductions and methods, is actually preparation for the publication of your future scientific work. It is also a test of how well you know English.
We need to have an insight into your research protocols before enrolling in the study because we have realized over many years of working on this PhD program that many ideas sound good in a short cover letter or interview. However, when these ideas need to be formulated in a feasible research protocol with a suitable scientific methodology, there are often problems. Many individuals do not know how to transfer their ideas into a proper scientific protocol. Therefore, the evaluation of your protocols is essential for us to carry out the selection for enrollment in the study.
Furthermore, preparing a protocol before enrolling in the study will give you a good insight into what it is like to work with the person you have chosen as a mentor. If your experience with a mentor during the development of a study protocol is positive, then that’s a promising story. An excellent mentor is a key to success on the path to a doctorate.

Who is a great mentor?
When choosing a mentor, please consider the following advice. 
First, your mentor must be a currently scientifically active person. Check their CV for their list of publications. Search them on PubMed. If you see that they have a lot of publications in international journals where they were the last author, that is a good candidate for a mentor. The last authorship is reserved for the principal investigator, i.e. the mentor, in the international scientific community.
Second, it is optimal if a mentor has already had experience in successfully mentoring doctoral theses. 
You should not expect adequate mentoring from a person who has a small number of publications, who has not published anything or almost nothing in the last five years, and who has almost all papers in Croatian (or other local) journals. 
If you enroll in TRIBE, you will need to publish two manuscripts in international journals with a JIF higher than 1. Suppose your mentor did not publish such two publications as the principal investigator (last author) in the previous few years. In that case, it might not be realistic to expect that such a person will publish two such papers with you in the next three years.

Can I do it myself?
Sometimes we have inquiries for enrollment by candidates who have their own research ideas; they would like to plan it all by themselves and look for a mentor afterward. 
In a PhD program, this is an entirely wrong approach. You need to start with a mentor - find an excellent mentor first and plan the research with the mentor. Knowledge of research methodology is a prerequisite for a well-designed study. You will gain some of this knowledge during coursework in the TRIBE program, but the critical research training in a PhD program occurs when working one-on-one with your mentor. 
Your mentor should be your scientific parent, a person who will be there for you when you need it, and who will help you in the arduous process from designing a research plan to conducting and publishing your research results. They also need to be strict when you need to be pushed or encouraged. A mentor must have time for you. If you already see in the early contact with a potential mentor that the communication is not ideal and that the protocols' design is not smooth, do not think this will change later.

What is a research protocol?
The research protocol includes an introduction to the research topic you would like to address, study aim(s), and methods. All this needs to be supported by appropriate literature references. The TRIBE program has a form for writing a research protocol, and you can find it here
When writing a research plan, plan immediately an extensive thesis consisting of at least two separate studies that you can publish in at least two independent publications. 

Can candidates who have not completed a previous study in the field of biomedicine enroll in TRIBE?
Yes. However, TRIBE, i.e. the University of Split School of Medicine, can only award a doctorate in the field of biomedicine and health. Therefore, your PhD research should be in the field of biomedicine and health, and your publications should be published in journals indexed in PubMed.

We will disenroll students who are not progressing with their research
If, after enrolling in the TRIBE study, you are not able to demonstrate measurable progress at each progress report, you will be disenrolled. There are two progress reports in each study year in TRIBE; these are considered exams, and students get grades for their progress. A student with no progress or insufficient progress will get an "insufficient" grade (grade 1 in the Croatian educational system). In addition, if a student does not pass an exam within two academic years or 8 exam terms, a student will be disenrolled.

Enrollment conditions: first, second, and the third study year
To enroll in the first year, students need to submit at least two viable research protocols. All exams from the first year need to be passed for enrollment into the 2nd year. All exams from the second year need to be passed for enrollment into the 3rd year.

Applying for a PhD thesis proposal and defending a PhD thesis
PhD thesis proposal can be submitted at any time during the studies. Requirements for PhD thesis defense include publication of 2 original manuscripts in journals indexed in WoS or CC with a JIF higher than 1.00.

When is the next call for enrollment?
Call for applications is issued once a year. The call is announced every year in March and lasts until September 15. However, candidates interested in enrolling in TRIBE in the next academic year are invited to contact the program directors at any time by e-mail. We are happy to give advice regarding mentor selection and preparation of research protocols so that you would have a better chance of enrolling in TRIBE. Management of the TRIBE program presents chosen candidates to the Graduate School Council, and pending approval, the enrollment of the approved candidates begins.

What if I don’t enroll in TRIBE this year? Can I apply again?
Yes, you can apply again if you are not selected this year. However, it is more important to focus on drafting adequate study protocols than to worry whether you are selected this year or next year. 
PhD studies last for three years, but it has never happened to us that someone did not get to defend their PhD thesis because they did not pass one of the exams. People fail to get to a thesis defense if they don’t complete their research and don’t publish their scientific papers. The only reason you wouldn’t enroll in TRIBE is a submission of poor research protocols. Some protocols are irreparable, and in such cases, we suggest that candidates completely change the planned research topic. 
Some candidates have significant problems with the protocol, and the protocol needs to be radically improved. In such cases, we will suggest that you revise the protocol and apply for enrollment next year. In the meantime, we are happy to read the new version of your protocols as soon as you revise them.

Technical details

Classes are held during the afternoon on workdays and in the morning on Saturdays. When there are international students in the program, classes are held in English language.

Exams are taken after each class. Most of the exams are practical, consisting of assignments derived from the class curriculum. Some classes can also be followed online.

Coursework: In the first two years, students complete core and elective subjects. During all three years, students pursue research in their area of interest under the supervision of mentors and advisors.
The program is completed when a student defends his/her PhD thesis.
The academic year begins in October and ends in September. The program is conducted in two semesters per year. 

Transfer from another graduate school is possible under predetermined transfer terms.

Students without biomedical backgrounds will have individualized study program.

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