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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 at or below the full professor rank.
Docent is also used at some (mainly German) 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). Becoming a docent is often referred to as Habilitation or Doctor of Science and is an academic evidence that proves that a holder is capable of appointment at the level of associate or full professor. Docent is the highest academic title in several countries and the qualifying criteria are research output that corresponds to 3-5 doctoral dissertations, supervision of PhD students, and concrete evidence of teaching at undergraduate and graduate level.
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 Doctorate. In the French-speaking universities, the word docent is not used in their titles.
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 Dozent or Hochschuldozent.
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 Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Title Docent is equal or even above the title "associate professor" as it is used in Western European countries. In the Czech Republic, a "docent" holder is considered capable to conduct research independently as well as to give lectures.
In Poland, the title of docent used to be 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 and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, the system of academic ranks is similar to that of North America. The academic rank of docent corresponds to assistant or associate professor.
In Denmark and Norway, docent is traditionally a title ranking between associate professor and professor, similar to a readership in the United Kingdom. Following reforms in 2003, the Norwegian docent position is considered equivalent in rank to that of professor, with teaching qualifications weighted more heavily relative to research qualifications than in professorial appointments.
In Finland, Sweden, Estonia and Latvia docent (Finnish dosentti, Swedish docent, Estonian dotsent, Latvian docents) 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 Scandinavian title docent as used in e.g. Sweden is often translated into English as Reader to avoid confusion with foreign uses of the term docent. In Finland, the Docents' Union of Finland and the Finnish Ministry of Education recommend the term adjunct professor in English, while the term used by the University of Helsinki is 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, most universities only confer a non-stipendiary docent title. The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and Chalmers university of technology still maintains the stipendiary. The title is in most cases awarded to people employed as assistant professor/Lecturer (universitetslektor) with a distinguished international reputation after a rigorous review of their research. Docent translates as Associate professor, First Lecturer or Reader/Senior Lecturer.
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/her 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, Docent is solely an academic title (Finnish: dosentti, Swedish: docent) awarded by a university. It can either be awarded for life or for stipulated period of time depending on the choice of the unit that is conferring it. 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. While traditionally a docenture used to be a formal position without a salary, the recent[when?] change in legislation changed it to a title only. The title of Docent in Finland is also called Adjunct Professor. A docent may have another ordinary job at the university (e.g. a lecturer) or work elsewhere full-time. The rank of a docent entitles scientists to be principal investigators, lead research groups and act as the supervisors of doctoral students.
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.
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 ranked within the state pay grade system as equivalent to the position of Professor, but promotion to Teaching Docent is based on a different set of merits, with more emphasis on teaching qualifications relative to research merits than in professorial appointments. Persons holding a permanent position as senior teaching fellow (Norwegian: førstelektor) at a university or university college may apply for promotion to Teaching Docent. After the 2006 changes there are three parallel academic career ladders in Norway, one focused on both research and teaching, one focused only on research and one focused on teaching.
In Portugal, Spain and the Netherlands, docente (Portuguese and Spanish) and docent (Dutch) are a synonym for "teacher" as well as "professor", and are widely used across all academic ranks (i.e. high school, undergraduate, etc...)
In Turkey, doçent is an academic appointment equivalent to an associate professor, ranking between assistant professor and professor. A doçent candidate has to have a doctor’s degree; pass written, oral examinations and also submit a docent thesis. The title of docent is mandatory in order to become a professor (i.e. full professor). In recent years there is no longer need for a docent thesis, rather a candidate must provide evidence of a number of journal papers.