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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 the Flemish universities of Belgium docent is the first of four university professor ranks, the others being hoofddocent (head docent), hoogleraar (professor) and gewoon hoogleraar. To be awarded the docent title at the Flemish universities, a candidate has to have a doctor’s degree. In the French speaking universities, the word docent is not used in their titles.
Germany, Austria and Switzerland
In Germany, Austria 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 full professor. This is the situation in Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Title Docent is equal or even above the title "Associate Professor" as it is used in Western European countries. In Czech Republic is "docent" holder considered as capable to conduct research independently as well as to give lectures at the university.
In Russia, Ukraine and Belarus "docent" is an academic title above the assistant and below the 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 most of former Yugoslav countries, including Bosnia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia, the system of academic ranks is similar to that of North America. The academic rank of docent corresponds to assistant professor.
In Denmark and Norway, docent is traditionally a title ranking between Associate Professor and Professor, similar to a readership in the United Kingdom, although today, the title is used somewhat differently.
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 (often with the title Senior Lecturer; universitetslektor). The title docent is often translated into English as Reader to avoid confusion with foreign uses of the term docent. The Docents' Union of Finland and the Ministry of Education recommend the term Adjunct Professor in English.
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, most universities only confer a non-stipendiary docent title. The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences still maintains the stipendiary. The title is in most cases awarded to people employed as Assistant or Associate Professor (forskarasistent/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. A docent qualification is required of all head doctoral student supervisors. 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, 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. Unlike a professor's chair, a docenture is not an administrative position, and docents may work elsewhere full-time. Otherwise, they can be principal investigators, lead research groups and act as the supervisors of doctoral students. If the title is awarded for life, it can be very difficult to revoke, practically only if the presented qualifications were fraudulent, and if contested, it will likely require review in the Supreme Administrative Court.
- Traditional use in the universities
In Norway, the title docent (Norwegian: dosent) was traditionally used for positions immediately below full professors and above those holding the title førsteamanuensis (corresponding to Associate Professor in the US and Senior Lecturer in the Commonwealth) 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). The title was comparable to Reader or Associate Professor in many Commonwealth countries and Professor Extraordinarius in continental Europe. All docents were lifted to full Professor status in 1985, when the title was abolished at the universities.
- College Docent and (Teaching) Docent
The title docent remained in use in the rural colleges (Norwegian: distriktshøgskoler), in the form of College Docent (Norwegian: høgskoledosent), which is a position focused on teaching, and ranked below Professors. Today, only a handful of people still hold the title College Docent. In the 1990s, the College Docents received the right to apply for promotion to Professor. In 2003, the position Teaching Docent (Norwegian: undervisningsdosent) was introduced. The title was changed to just Docent (Norwegian: dosent) in 2006, although it is not a successor of the earlier Docent position as used in the universities prior to 1985. The position is similar to College Docent and focused on teaching activities rather than research. Both the titles College Docent and (Teaching) Docent are almost exclusively used in the colleges, and usually not used in the universities. Teaching Docent is formally ranked at the level of full professor, but promotion to Teaching Docent is based on different set of skills and merits. Persons holding a permanent associate teaching professor (Norwegian: førstelektor) position at university or university-college may apply for promotion to Teaching Docent. After the 2006 changes there are two parallel academic career ladders in Norway, one research intensive and one teaching intensive.
Portugal and the Netherlands
- http://www.lex.bg/bg/laws/ldoc/2135680028 ЗАКОН ЗА РАЗВИТИЕТО НА АКАДЕМИЧНИЯ СЪСТАВ В РЕПУБЛИКА БЪЛГАРИЯ (чл. 2, ал. 3)
- Dosent, in Store Norske Leksikon, Vol. 4, 2005
- Forskrift om ansettelse og opprykk i undervisnings- og forskerstillinger (Regulations concerning appointment and promotion to teaching and research posts, Ministry of Education and Research 9 February 2006), accessed March 14, 2014.
- Forskrift om ansettelse og opprykk i undervisnings- og forskerstillinger, Regjeringen.no, February 20, 2006 (accessed August 26, 2014).
- Büyük Larousse Sözlük ve Ansiklopedisi 1986 "Doçent: Üniversite öğretim üyeliğinde yardımcı doçent ile profesör arasında yer alan akademik unvan."