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Docent is a title at some European universities to denote a specific academic appointment within a set structure of academic ranks below professor (i.e., professor ordinarius). Docent is also used at some universities generically for a person who has the right to teach. The term is derived from the Latin word docēns, which is the present active participle of docēre (to teach, to lecture).
In Belgium docent is the first of four university professor ranks, the others being hoodfdocent, hoogleraar and gewoon hoogleraar. To be awarded the docent title at a university, a candidate has to have a doctor’s degree.
Germany and Switzerland
In Germany and in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, Dozent or Hochschuldozent denotes an academic appointment at a university or similar institution, at a mid level ranking of seniority. The title of Privatdozent is used (with certain conditions) by those who have successfully completed a Habilitation, thereby denoting that its holder has the right to independently teach without being supervised by a professor. In this way, a Privatdozent may for instance hold an appointment as Hochschuldozent or Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter, or even Professor.
Central and Eastern Europe
In many countries, with academic traditions that stem from German-speaking countries, "docent" is an academic appointment below that of a professor. This is the situation in Belarus, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Ukraine. Docent is the lowest academic title that confers the right to teach at the university, below the extraordinary professor (associate professor in English parlance) and ordinary professor (full professor).
In Poland, the title of docent formerly was mandatory in order to become a professor (i.e., full professor). This is no longer a requirement and this title nearly vanished in the last 20 years. Currently, this title may be given to a person on non-scientist duty (teacher/instructor). Only a person on scientist duty may apply for the title of professor; therefore, docent is the highest title for teachers and instructors.
In the Czech Republic, the titles of academic staff are defined by Act No. 111/1998, Coll. which states that "[t]he academic staff comprises of professors, associate professors, assistant professors, instructors, lecturers and scholarly, scientific, research and development workers taking part in teaching activities." In the Czech translation of the law, the equivalent of English title professor is profesor while associate professor is docent. There are no extraordinary professors (Czech: mimořádný profesor), although the title was used before the mid 20th Century. The Act further specifies that in order to receive the degree of associated professor the candidate has to undergo a habilitation procedure (section 72 of the Act). In case of success, s/he is appointed by the Rector of the university. In contrast full professors are appointed by the president of the Czech Republic.
In Finland and Sweden, docent (Finnish dosentti, Swedish docent) is an academic title conferred to a person fulfilling requirements similar to German Privatdozent. Such persons are usually expected to give lectures on their specialties if their professional activities permit this. Most docents are employed at the university where they are docents, but usually in a different position, which is equivalent to Associate Professor.. The Docents' Union of Finland and the Ministry of Education recommends translating the term into english as Adjunct Professor, but the organization for Finnish universities (Universities Finland UNIFI) recommends translation 'the title of docent'.
In Sweden, there used to be both stipendiary (docentstipendiat) and non-stipendiary (oavlönad docent) docent positions. A stipendiary docent both held the docent title (for life), and benefited from a stipend that paid for his or her salary at the university for up to six years. The non-stipendiary alternative was solely an academic title (also for life). Today only the non-stipendiary docent title exists. It is in most cases awarded to people employed as assistant professors(universitetslektor) with a distinguished international reputation in research after a rigorous review of their research.
The title of docent is the second highest grade in the Swedish academic system, the highest being (full) Professor. A docentship should be regarded as an educational title not connected with the employment pyramid as such. This is rather an assurance of the level of expertise, to enable the person to advance further in his/her academic career. For conferment of the title, there is a requirement that the researcher has a good overview of his research area and has demonstrated both the ability to formulate research problems and to independently carry through research programs. It is a requirement that the researcher should be able to lead research projects. The researcher must have substantial scientific research experience and be well published in scientific journals.
In Finland, starting from 2010, the docent title is solely an academic title (Finnish: dosentti). It can either be awarded for life or for stipulated period of time depending on the choice of the unit that is conferring it. It is a rank between Lecturer and full Professor, i.e., it is similar to an Associate Professor according to the American universities. In addition to teaching, Docents are involved in research and supervising post-graduate students. To be awarded the docent title, a candidate has to have a doctor’s degree or have corresponding scientific competence and, in addition, have acquired advanced scientific skills as well as educational skills.
In Norway, the title docent (Norwegian: dosent) was used for positions immediately below full professors and above Associate Professors (førsteamanuensis) until 1985. The requirements were the same as for full university professors, but until then, each department usually only had one professor and other academics with similar qualifications were appointed as docents. Hence, docents could be seen as professors without chair (Professor extraordinarius). All docents were lifted to full Professor status in 1985 when the title was abolished at the universities.
In Denmark, docent is an appointment ranking between Lecturer (equivalent to Associate Professor) and full Professor.
Portugal and The Netherlands
In Portugal, docente is a synonym for "teacher", and is widely used across all academic ranks (i.e., high-school, undergraduate, etc...)
- See Ottův slovník naučný, vol. 20, p. 733, entry "Professor"<iframe src='http://archive.org/stream/ottvslovnknauni13ottogoog?ui=embed#mode/1up' width='480px' height='430px' frameborder='0' ></iframe>
- http://www.lex.bg/bg/laws/ldoc/2135680028 ЗАКОН ЗА РАЗВИТИЕТО НА АКАДЕМИЧНИЯ СЪСТАВ В РЕПУБЛИКА БЪЛГАРИЯ (чл. 2, ал. 3)
- Lajunen, Lauri; Savunen, Liisa (11 February 2010). "Dosentin arvon englanninkielinen käännös" [Translation of the title of docent into English] (in Finnish). Suomen yliopistot – Finlands universitet – Universities Finland UNIFI. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
- Büyük Larousse Sözlük ve Ansiklopedisi 1986 "Doçent: Üniversite öğretim üyeliğinde yardımcı doçent ile profesör arasında yer alan akademik unvan."
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