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Should I switch advisors?


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I have been working with a new PI (recent grad) for a couple of years and I am now thinking of switching advisors. My motivation to switch comes from the fact that up until now, it does not seem like there is a clear path to completing my Ph.D. Current advisor has had me work on 3 separate projects, all which have resulted in publications. I was first author of one and second on the others, but all were published in top tier conferences.


If I do switch advisors, he will be tenured and very experienced. On top of this, he is very respected in the community of my area of research (more likely then not, if you've taken a class on this subject you would have used his text book).


One thing to note is that although I have been working with my current PI for a couple years, I was only recently admitted to the Ph.D. program, so I am essentially considered a first year Ph.D. student.


In regards to funding, I am on fellowship and also have external funding sources who fund my tuition and research so there is no issue here.

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If you're technically a first year, it doesn't seem weird to me that you don't have a clear path to completing your PhD. You're just starting. I'm not sure I understood how exactly would the new advisor be a clearer path towards getting the degree.


That said, I think it's totally fine if you want to change advisors because you are more interested in his line of research, in his advising style, and/or you think you're a better match professionally (or personally). 


I think the only thing that would worry me is if your current advisor was the one who brought you in the PhD, to work under her. 

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I think it's great that you have 3 papers including a first-author paper so early on in your program. It sounds like your concern is that they are not focused enough to fit into your dissertation? My view is that publications are way more important than your dissertation, so who cares if your dissertation is a bit scattered, if you graduate with something like 7-10 publications.

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  • 2 weeks later...

My two cents on this, for what's they're worth, is that regardless of what you do, you need to make sure you go about it in a professional way. We had someone in our department change advisors and they handled it poorly. Professors got offended, there became a rift between various faculty members and their students, etc. That being said, you absolutely should do what you feel will be best for your academic and professional development. I would just make sure to ask around your department to see what would be considered the best way to go about changing advisors. You don't want to burn any bridges, especially this early on. 

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