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When one finishes a degree or a research position, the boss asks to carry on sth unfinished (unpaid), does one need to agree to do so?

  • What makes you think the answer is yes? – user104541 Feb 18 at 16:03
  • no yes-or-no answer. just wanna hear ppl's opinions – feynman Feb 19 at 2:26
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No, you don't need to agree to do it at that point, unless you already have agreed or committed previously. However, for your future career it would be good to give it some consideration, at least, and to work in in if possible.

I'm assuming that "the boss" is a professor, actually, who can aid you in the future.

But "unpaid" is a big issue. If you can get something back for your efforts either hard currency or academic currency it would be a good thing also.

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    Context would seem to be important here. If there are papers to finish writing, then yes they should do so - the work done should be documented. Now, barring having a next position, yes, the professor should probably keep supporting the student. – Jon Custer Feb 18 at 15:46
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    @JonCuster: I disagree. If the student finishes their position and did not agree on working afterwards, they are under no obligation to finish papers. – user104541 Feb 18 at 15:55
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    @guest2 - Perhaps we envision different scenarios. If a PhD student graduates and goes to a post-doc, but refuses to finish up the last few papers (and there are always papers left to do), that is not good. If the post-doc leaves to take a permanent position, and refuses to finish up the last few papers, that is not good. It is not good for either the student or the advisors. Now, if a student finishes up, has no place to go lined up, and the advisor wants the work done but won't support them, well, there is an issue at that point. – Jon Custer Feb 18 at 18:24
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    I think Jon Custer is envisioning academic work as a collaboration between students/postdocs/whomever and the PI, rather than work done for the PI. Therefore, the end of the funded arrangement is not necessarily the end of the commitment to the project. I agree with this perspective. For the good of all academia, it's normal for people to continue projects when they've moved on to a new position; everyone gains and loses from this. – Bryan Krause Feb 18 at 18:28
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    @BryanKrause - and I would add that, if somebody does abandon the work unfinished, they really can't complain if somebody finishes it up for them and submits it (with appropriate authorship). – Jon Custer Feb 18 at 21:40
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No. And profs typically "lose" some work because of this. It is just a function of the system. I wouldn't cry about it either as you have your life to attend to.

I definitely would not stay at school doing this versus going to a job. Or forego some "break" vacation type activities before your real job starts.

I would draw the line at doing any new experiments. But writing something up is different. It can benefit you also. But you now have a little more control in the situation. Don't be obvious about it, but do it on "your terms".

If you are still in academia, figure out a way that it benefits you (e.g. continued collaboration). But concentrate on "WIIFM". You don't have to be prickly. But just only do things in away that benefit you. Not guilt trip over unfinished work. (The universe will always have unfinished work and it's not like the prof is in the lab on Xmas , head down over the bench, to make sure 100% work is finished and 0% grant money wasted. Of course science wants a high return on investment, but some waste is normal. And you need to look out for you, not the PI, not the agency. (If they REALLY cared, they would pay!)

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