In an interview with a potential PhD supervisor, is it ok to refer to papers published by a different academic, or should I mainly talk about the potential supervisor's papers?


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    I imagine this depends on the subfield and university and supervisor, but I would rather have a widely read and knowledgeable student than one who is trying to suck up to me. – Dave L Renfro Feb 26 '18 at 20:57
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    I talked about zero papers in my PhD interviews; the interviewers were far more interested in my own work than in my opinion of their work. – astronat Feb 26 '18 at 20:58
  • If the supervisor rejects you based on you citing other people work, it will probably be a bad supervisor anyway (except if the paper you cite is very low quality). – Distic Feb 27 '18 at 10:38

There's no ideal answer here—it really all depends on the ego of the potential supervisor. A good potential advisor not only teaches her students, but is willing to learn from them as well. If you know something that touches on the topic you're talking with a potential supervisor about, I see no reason not to mention it. You're demonstrating familiarity with research in the field, and that shows you're willing to put in the work to learn, which is an important part of becoming a good researcher. I'd prefer that a candidate tell me what she knows, rather than hide it for fear I'll be mad about the fact that she mentioned someone else's work.

  • thank you for your answers. i have come across an article some 16 years ago that I probably find more interestng then the direction of his current work, is it a bad idea to mention this or not? – yourlazyphysicist Feb 27 '18 at 12:35
  • If you’re not interested in his current work, why interview? – aeismail Feb 27 '18 at 13:26

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