Repost due to lack of reply: I’m a fourth year PhD student in the life sciences, and I need mentorship, preferably from a Slytherin, or at least someone with a Slytherin hat. My advisor doesn’t want me doing “mercenary collaborations”, or quick experiments with researchers outside my field in exchange for secondary authorships. He says I need to focus on my thesis research in the next year so as to publish and graduate. Are there any academics in the LW readership who have the insight to tell me whether this is good advice or whether he just wants me pumping out papers with his name on them so he can get tenure?

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Are you sure you have the right advisor? If you are so concerned that his interests may be that divergent from your own, it might be better to switch advisors than to continue with this one. Ideally, you want an advisor who already has tenure and looks at you like a son or daughter, and will advocate for you as your career progresses. If that's not the vibe you are getting from your advisor, then look around and see if there's someone whose personality and style of work better suits you. There will be costs to switching advisors, but they may not be as big as the costs of continuing with a mismatch between advisor and student for more than a year.

4passive_fist5yNo one else is probably going to tell you this, but go ahead and do those collaborations. At the end of the day, your thesis is only going to be read by 3 people, and a doctorate degree is just a degree and isn't important in and of itself. The important things are the work and publications you get done while doing your degree. So unless you doubt your ability to get your thesis done on time, you should be looking on doing all the collaborations you can get your hands on. You are the best judge of your own capabilities here.
0Andy_McKenzie5yI'm in a PhD program in the life sciences and although I haven't graduated myself (still in my first year), based on almost all of the advice I've read, this is good advice. The way to prove to your advisor that you deserve to be able to do quick secondary experiments with people outside of your field is to submit a paper of your own, and then you can do those experiments in the interim while you're waiting for the reviews. That said, I don't think I'm all that Slytherin (although I admit that this is what a Slytherin would say).

Open Thread, May 4 - May 10, 2015

by Gondolinian 1 min read4th May 2015217 comments


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