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PhD Discussion Forum

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This Category:   PostgraduateForum.com > PhD Applications


Doing most of the research work

User: Mohammadb - 21 January 2016 16:07

I was talking to a doctor that I am considering doing my PHD with. He is in a different university. I was discussing my research with him when he asked me to work with him on another research in a different field. He asked me to do most of the work where his job is to guide me. He knows and I know that I don't need his guidance but to publish it I need a doctor's name.

My questions:
My friends told me it is common that PHD students will do most of the work and the doctor will add his name with you. Do you agree or not?

As a PHD student and on scholarship is it expected from me to work on publishing papers beside my dissertation? though it is not required in the scholarship contract

If I don't accept doing a lot of research beside my PHD work, could they deny my application?

My friend told me a (PHD) that the main reason for them giving you a scholarship is to help them publishing papers though that won't say that straightforward, do you think this is true?

The scholarship is tuition free beside small amount of mony that is enough for my daughter's diapers so I need to keep working to get another income, and this is why I am not very happy to do a lot of extra work though it is good for my resume.

Thank you,

User: HazyJane - 21 January 2016 16:33

If you have any other options available to you I would probably avoid this offer. You need a supervisor who is interested in *your* development as a researcher, not merely how you can serve his needs. Sure, it's not uncommon for supervisors to set projects for students to work on, and that can have some benefits, but this sounds very much like he just wants a cheap research assistant to serve his own research ambitions. If, as you state, he has no useful guidance to give you then avoid him as a supervisor.

On the subject of papers, the requirements vary by country. In the UK there are no formal requirements to publish papers, though it is generally beneficial to your career post-PhD if you have done so (assuming you want to continue in an academic role). Personally, though, I'd favour quality of publications over quantity, and in the scenario you describe above it sounds like you could end up with a bunch of stuff that hasn't been well supervised, and looks good on a clinician CV, but might not be so great for an analytic/experimental scientist's CV.

If I were you I would try to find a supervisor who is genuinely interested in having a PhD student, and not simply to serve their own needs.

User: Mohammadb - 21 January 2016 16:45

Yes I understand what you are saying, to not opress him he is interesting in developing me as a PHD student and gave me good feedback for my current research. On the other hand he is interested in publishing papers.

My main question is , is it normal that a PHD student to do most of the work or should the work be devided on the doctor and the student?
Doing most the work does not mean that the paper going to be weak.

User: satchi - 22 January 2016 13:45

hi Modammadb
Your supervisor is not going to run literature searches, collect data for you, or help you in the lab. PhD students doing all the work is very normal.

A student is expected to do ALL the research for a phd, the supervisor is there to show the way -- where to find papers, which are the best papers in the field etc. comment and discuss things. They already have their own work so they won't expect to do direct work for their phd student. You will be extremely lucky if you can find a supervisor who will do some (or divide) the phd work.

Please don't accept the PhD studentship if :
- you are not willing to do "all" the work
- if the stipend is not enough to support you
- the supervisor is not suitable in the area
- your gut feeling in the beginning is giving you alarm signals

best of luck
love satchi

User: Hugh - 22 January 2016 17:48

I agree with Satchi. You really have to do all the work, and be willing to have very little support. For example, the last time I spoke to my supervisor was back in November. You really have to be willing to work on your own, set your own work, and take real ownership of your work. Supervisors are not your co-authors or bosses. They are more like Editors.

Don't do a PhD for the sake of it; you'll end up regretting it!

User: Mohammadb - 23 January 2016 17:48

I don't know if you read my post. Of course my supervisor will not do my PHD work. I am talking about other research beside my dissertation! hope u guys read my post again... hahah I didn't even expect that a PHD student will ask his supervisor to do the work for him lol

User: Pjlu - 23 January 2016 21:50

Mohammed, where I am it would be usual to publish a paper from your own research (PhD or Masters studies and projects) or shared research and have your supervisor/s name appear on the papers published from this, even though you did pretty much all of the work.

When it occurs with projects that are not the PhD, it might be okay to do a little bit of this, (it gets your name out there and your work published), but once on the PhD, you would need to really make sure you focus on your own experiments, data and the PhD, so would probably have to be able to say 'no' sometimes and feel that you are comfortable talking this through with the supervisor and are not going to be bullied or overworked on side projects. If you don't feel able to do this with this person, then find another supervisor as Hazy Jane has suggested.

And what your friend told you about the main reason for the scholarship may be partly true. Yes, supervisors do get the opportunity to have an apprentice researcher or acolyte to supervise. Thus more papers are published with their name on it (they are pressured to publish continually as well), but many supervisors would genuinely want you to succeed with your study and become an emerging new researcher in your own right.

User: chickpea - 24 January 2016 11:12

When I first started my PhD, my supervisor said he had some work for me on one of his studies and I agreed to do it, as I thought it was a good way to start working with him and learn the field a little. In the end, he paid me for this work (which I hadn't expected) and has included me on the paper he wrote (which again I didn't expect), so it was a very positive experience. I think it all depends on the individual supervisor - some will have your best interests at heart and will help you get started, while others may only be thinking of increasing their own publication list. In my case, the extra work was not a lot of work - I think if you were being asked to play a major role in someone else's work, this would be concerning as you need to dedicate most of your time to your PhD. As others have said, if you have a bad feeling about this and it sounds like you would be doing all the work in this other project,, it may be best to look for a different supervisor. If, however, it's a limited amount of work that may be useful to you, then it's not such a bad thing.

User: satchi - 24 January 2016 16:02

true, posts written in a thread can be misread. At the end of the day, only you can decide if you want to do that "additional" research with the doctor.

best of luck
love satchi

User: DocInsanity - 26 January 2016 12:18

The original post did not make it at all clear that you weren't talking about your doctoral research. What you decide on subsidiary projects is entirely between you and that person really. I wouldn't advise doing projects outside the PhD unless they do not get in the way of your "day job" and will result in a good quality paper.
As for the notion you need a particular status of person on the paper to get it published, personally I think that's codswallop. It would also be very dubious ethics on the part of this academic.

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