I need an specific advice on a specific area (not the main one) in my PhD research (e.g. is it a good idea to include the factor x in the review and analysis of the topic y?).

As far as I know, my supervisor is not an 'expert' in this specific area.

I think that someone else, who has recently done a PhD in my department and has good connections with my supervisor, is an expert in that area and can help.

In academic etiquette: should I make my supervisor aware that I am asking an advice from that person?

3 Answers 3


I would approach your supervisor with request for advice and depending on what the problem is, (s)he may recommend you speak to some other scholarly expert in the field. If (s)he doesn't, you could suggest yourself that it might be an idea to speak to some expert. Your supervisor and you could work out a viable solution.

This has happened to me numerous times during my PhD - the nature of the project meant that other scholars had to be consulted. My supervisor had no problems with this, but I made sure that I always let him know, and in many cases, he had recommended I speak to other scholars and was also able to recommend various experts.

It is always polite to keep your supervisor in the loop.


Yes. In the same tone that you use to describe finding a helpful book in the library. Consulting experts, whether in the flesh or through their published work, is a normal and expected part of doing research.

The tone of your question suggests that you are worried that your advisor might be insulted by not being consulted first. If this is a real concern, you need a new advisor.

  • +1 for In the same tone that you use to describe finding a helpful book in the library.
    – Orion
    Commented Jun 6, 2013 at 14:14

Yes. I am a graduate student and I have done this quite a number of times. Usually its no problem. In fact my advisers have always encouraged reaching out to various people in their specializations to ask for advice.

What I do is bring up the topic and then say something like "What do you feel about me reaching out to Dr. XX or Prof. YY about feedback regarding this analysis? Or this writing?"

Usually, they are very happy to agree or suggest alternatives. I recommend that you try this approach and see what comes of it.

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