What's your opinion on this question? I have MSc in Computer Science (spec. in Natural Language Processing) so I don't need any materials to work with that I can not get by myself. My fears of going into funded PhD is that I would be forced to publish papers that does not scientifically matter or have any impact. I've asked several scientists and they claim that it is called the "salami" effect where instead of publishing one good paper you publish multiple small ones (hence cutting the salami) mainly because the funding body puts pressure on you.

Personally, I would not like to spend 3-4 years doing this but at the same time I am not sure how serious the academic community will take my work. Also, funding my self would probably mean that I have to apply some of my research ideas in bussiness context. I am aware that there is possibility of me submitting research proposal but still I am afraid that some of my ideas will be rejected or stolen.

I've also heard that PhD is not about ideas and it's more about learning to become independent researcher. For some reason, this seems like a very discouraging statement since it lowers the bar about one having higher success with research during his/her PhD studies. I don't think I need this since I've already worked independently for my MSc, albeit I was not 100% satisfied with my results.

By my own research idea, I mean that I have an idea where my research field could be improved and I am curious about whether it will work or not. I have also done some research during my MSc in that particular field. Currently the idea is bit broad and lacks scientific rigour and is not formally defined. To do this, probably it would take me a bit more time to dive deep into the mathematics and figure it out. The idea can also have practical importance which means the method can be used in a Natural Language Processing app like a chat bot (to improve experience for example)

I would really appreciate your opinion on this matter since signing up for PhD seems like big life investment. Thank you.

  • Any research you are doing is improving the field - whether it is a publication with an impact factor 20 or impact factor 3, and whether it never makes it to publish because it is a "negative result". You are actively innovating. Period. And that is something to be proud of! Jan 27, 2018 at 18:09
  • Could you describe more what own is? Do you already have a topic to research?
    – paparazzo
    Jan 27, 2018 at 18:24
  • Thank you both. I updated the question details about what I mean by own research idea. Jan 27, 2018 at 19:34
  • Most people do externally funded research in order to be able to pay not only equipment and conferences (and later, students), but also in order to pay their landlord and cashier at the supermarket. Won't you need any of this?
    – Mark
    Jan 27, 2018 at 22:40
  • I can live with my parents for a while or I can do a small part time job, it would not be a big issue Jan 27, 2018 at 22:59

1 Answer 1


Signing up for a PhD is definitely a huge life investment and I am glad you're not taking it lightly. I am getting mine in biological sciences, so we are similar in the length of a program, the funding mechanisms, and the publishing realm. I can't speak from experience of a masters program, though, or from computer science.

  1. When you are getting your PhD you're working with an advisor on their funded projects. Now, that does mean that you are becoming an independent researcher, but I argue that it does not mean that I have not been contributing my own ideas. I am very involved with my experimental design, data collection, and spin off projects. It is like you pick a lab/advisor with a "theme" that you like - and from there, you can develop aims that will complement their focus, but are your own "flavor".

  2. Many funding mechanisms require that you are employed by a university/government/company. Here in the US, this is shown by a DUNS number on your application. Since I have experience only with a university, I do not know of funding mechanisms/grants that are available for those who are not "in the system". Additionally, to get the rather large grants, you must have a PhD and gone through the tenure track.

I have a bit of knowledge of the "spin off" business side of things through a few classes, which makes me wonder maybe you are a great candidate for starting your own company. You could get funding from investors, still work on your own projects, and contribute to the community.

In my field (biological sciences), academic journals would very rarely, if ever, publish you in high tier journals as a MS without a PhD as the corresponding author.

Good luck - I can't stress enough how much I respect you thoughtfully considering your career path this way. I am confident you'll make the right choice for you.

  • Nice answer but OP refers to self funded. +1
    – paparazzo
    Jan 27, 2018 at 18:24
  • Thanks for the encouragment. I will try my best to make the right choice. Jan 27, 2018 at 19:44

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