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didgeridoo

How to change a phd advisor ?

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Hi,

I want to change my current phd subject/advisor. There is one another subject/advisor that I like to work with, and I am considering one of the following 2 actions :

1- Talking to current advisor and telling him that I want to look for another subject. Then talking to the other one.

2- Talk to new potential advisor in private. If both of us seems that we may work together on a subject, then talk to current advisor. Otherwise continue with the current one.

If I follow first action and if, for some reason, fail to work with the new guy, then I would loose both, and I don't think there is another subject/advisor that I can work with.

For the second action, I am not sure how it seems from the point of view of US academic work ethic.

I like to hear any thoughts,

thanks in advance.

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Is there a third party you could consult before making any official move? I would try consulting the DGS for advice. Alternatively, there might be more advanced grads in your department who might have done this themselves or know someone who did and could tell you how it should be done. You could try talking informally to your potential new adviser just to find out if they're taking on students but I think you need to talk to your current adviser before making any plans with a new one. At any rate, I don't think anyone should be offended by your shift of interests, you just need to go about it the right way. Good luck!

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I wouldnt talk to the dgs just yet. Academics gossip and depending on the politics in your department, that could hurt you.

Casually see if other students were in your position (which I'm sure happens) and see how that turned out for them. There's a talker in almost every department and once you find out who that person is, get the info before you move.

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Dear Friends,

I have been offered a graduate research assistantship by the Civil Engineering department at Cornell. Actually, I am not interested in the research being done by the advisor who has offered me, but I have accepted the offer since Cornell was a serious choice for me. Now, my question is that how can, if possible at all, change this advisor while I am a GRA and my funding is provided by him? Also, is it more wise to enroll and then discuss these or I can dicuss at this moment? In general please guide me.

Bests

Sepehr

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Hi,

I want to change my current phd subject/advisor. There is one another subject/advisor that I like to work with, and I am considering one of the following 2 actions :

1- Talking to current advisor and telling him that I want to look for another subject. Then talking to the other one.

2- Talk to new potential advisor in private. If both of us seems that we may work together on a subject, then talk to current advisor. Otherwise continue with the current one.

If I follow first action and if, for some reason, fail to work with the new guy, then I would loose both, and I don't think there is another subject/advisor that I can work with.

For the second action, I am not sure how it seems from the point of view of US academic work ethic.

I like to hear any thoughts,

thanks in advance.

I would strongly advise NOT doing 2. I have heard stories about other students doing this, and it gave them a reputation for being devious and slimy, since it is essentially going behind your advisor's back. Be upfront, tell your advisor that you feel your interests shifting, tell him what you think you are now interested in, etc. Be upfront, and though he may not be happy you want to leave him, he will appreciate the courtesy.

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I would strongly advise NOT doing 2. I have heard stories about other students doing this, and it gave them a reputation for being devious and slimy, since it is essentially going behind your advisor's back. Be upfront, tell your advisor that you feel your interests shifting, tell him what you think you are now interested in, etc. Be upfront, and though he may not be happy you want to leave him, he will appreciate the courtesy.

I mostly agree. But I think it somewhat depends on your reasons for moving.

If it's merely your interests really lie in another topic, you should definitely talk to your current advisor first. If your current advisor really doesn't want to let you go or the person you want to work with can't take you, maybe you could skew your project to combine both your interests. Unless the fields are completely different and there's no way to mix the two, this is pretty common. You might want to explore options for being co-advised by the two faculty if you don't want to burn any bridges. This isn't uncommon in my field, particularly if somebody wants to shift direction a bit or thinks they would benefit most from working closely with two specific people.

If you have some personal/professional problems with your current advisor that are prompting you to move, I would talk to somebody in the program (chair, trusted experienced 3rd party) about your concerns and the best way to approach switching advisors. This method of moving is usually the messiest, but if it's something so serious where you think you need to completely change advisors, it's probably best.

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It would be highly unethical to be on his funds and then change advisers because I'm sure his funds come from some source that is given for a specific project and he puts on you on that with the expectation that there is a long term commitment here. If you are not interested, you should be up front about it and get a new adviser immediately and start on the new guy's grants rather than waste this poor chap's money.

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Is there anyway you can just have the other professor as a co-advisor or be able to work in the lab as your secondary lab?

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Dear Friends,

I have been offered a graduate research assistantship by the Civil Engineering department at Cornell. Actually, I am not interested in the research being done by the advisor who has offered me, but I have accepted the offer since Cornell was a serious choice for me. Now, my question is that how can, if possible at all, change this advisor while I am a GRA and my funding is provided by him? Also, is it more wise to enroll and then discuss these or I can dicuss at this moment? In general please guide me.

Bests

Sepehr

Maybe this varies by department, but I know that in the CS department at Cornell you don't have to actually pick a PhD advisor until the end of your third semester. Assuming that the CE department is the same way, the GRA would not actually be a long-term commitment to that professor, and would only force you to work with that professor for two of the three semesters that you have to decide. Granted, that means that you would be committed to working with this professor whose research doesn't interest you that much for two semesters and you would therefore lose time trying out other professors that you might be more interested in, but it doesn't mean you're completely screwed.

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Maybe this varies by department, but I know that in the CS department at Cornell you don't have to actually pick a PhD advisor until the end of your third semester. Assuming that the CE department is the same way, the GRA would not actually be a long-term commitment to that professor, and would only force you to work with that professor for two of the three semesters that you have to decide. Granted, that means that you would be committed to working with this professor whose research doesn't interest you that much for two semesters and you would therefore lose time trying out other professors that you might be more interested in, but it doesn't mean you're completely screwed.

Thank you for the time you took to respond my post.

According to the advisor the project is for three years and most probably he has counted on me. The other problem is that I have declined all of my other offers, and just found out that the work being done by the advisor who has funded me is not my type at all. I have no background in his research and I am really stunned by the way he has chosen me. On the one hand, working even for a day with this advisor is really stressful for me, on the other hand I have no other choice. I predict to be really stressed from the very beginning since I know that I can not work with this supervisor up to the end and also the fact that I am wasting somebody's money is excruciating for me. Now, I am really confused, if I say anything to the supervisor I will be jobless and if I work for him for a while it will be unethical. I really appreciate your comments

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