My advisor became an assistant professor nearly two years ago. I worked with him for one year but did not publish a paper, and he thinks my progress is too slow. He asked if I want him to assign a new PhD student on this project. I replied that this was not necessary; I had been slow due to personal factors but things were improving. But he did not seem to understand. After that, he completely ignored me and stopped funding me (though he never formally "fired" me). I also find our research interests are not a good match. The project he gave me requires something new to him and me, and I think that’s a hard problem which needs more time.

What should I do? I want to change advisor and don’t want him hate me. Should I go to his office directly to talk with him, because he did not reply me after I send him several emails. I am just afraid the bad relationship will influence my reputation in department. I do have a TA position through the department, so the lack of funding is not too much of a problem.


2 Answers 2


If your advisor has stopped funding you, it has already affected your position in the department.

You should consult with the graduate chair of your department and see what your options are. I’d like to say that there are solutions, but this is unfortunately very much a function of who has funding and is doing a project in an area you’re interested in pursuing. You may need to apply elsewhere, if you can’t find a solution at your school.

  • 4
    How is it possible for an advisor to pull off funding from a student mid-candidature without reviews and institutional agreement?
    – o4tlulz
    Jan 27, 2018 at 0:13
  • Can happen if you know the reviewers are your friends and will back your decision without any consequences for you.
    – quantacad
    Apr 10, 2022 at 8:15

If a professor does not fund you, officially, the student is free to work with anyone of interest. There is not any official constraint between you and the professor. It is crucial for a student to be independent, active, and dominant by himself for a successful Ph.D. career since it is your life, not others.

Meanwhile, since he does not fund you, any academic outputs from you with other faculty members are not related to him. Also, remember to protect all your academic copy rights. The professor cannot use any of your academic results if they are produced 'solely' by the student's efforts.

To be concrete, if funding is not an issue, find someone else and just work with anyone who suits your interest. Record all your own research efforts and make it your own IP published such as on Arxiv to protect your own idea. Ignore the current one and do not let him know any of your research progress and efforts.

Just do not let the professor take any advantage of you. No worry about any unnecessary concerns.

  • 4
    "If a professor does not fund you, officially, the student is free to work with anyone of interest." This is not true in many places. Changing supervisors is an official process in these places. Apr 9, 2022 at 18:43
  • 3
    I notice this is a self-answer -- thanks for the follow up! I assume this is what you did, and everything worked out? Good news. Still, in addition to the above comment, I would also note that your comments about copyright may be more complicated depending on location and your university's policies...i.e., work produced when your professor was funding you may belong to your professor in an IP sense (though you would still normally qualify for authorship).
    – cag51
    Apr 9, 2022 at 18:55
  • Also, careful with the language usage - talking about IP or "copyright" (not sure that's applicable here) is commonly seen as something industry-leaning, uncooperative or, possibly, even slightly offensive. It's one thing to visit someplace and ask whether the wardrobe door is locked before leaving your coat there, and completely different to say "by the way, make sure there's absolutely no theft!". Not everybody interprets this phrasing that way, of course, but every collaboration with people using it turned out to be nothing but trouble, personally.
    – Lodinn
    Apr 10, 2022 at 6:37
  • This is how I processed it. If the professor does not fund the student, there is not any official relationship between the student and the professor. Besides, funding does not necessarily qualify the authorship and copyright given that ideas and paper writing is completely conducted by the student, and the professor did not fund the student. Be straightforward, the professor does not expect to take any advantage of the student. Apr 11, 2022 at 3:41

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