I have enough work done for my PhD dissertation, but I also have one on-going project which I don't plan to include it in my dissertation. My advisor suggests that I have to finish all the work before I graduate. Is it so?

My advisor doesn't currently have funding and I am not being paid now. He also wants me to share my codes with him and other students, should I do so? I don't quite want to share my work because 1) I was not be paid; 2) I wrote the codes totally on own and didn't receive any technical helps from my advisor (my advisor is a good story-teller, but he barely knows anything concerning technologies). Am I thinking correctly?

  • I think you should provide more context for the on-going project. What was the initial agreement between you and your advisor? Was it supposed to be part of the dissertation and then left out? Did you get paid for it before?
    – Ehsan
    Jun 28, 2019 at 17:31

3 Answers 3


If you are not being paid, you should not be spending your time on a PhD. You should tell your advisor you are not able to continue without financial support.

It is your advisor's job to recommend what you should include in your thesis. Nobody who has not read your work will be able to advise you on this.

You want to keep the code you have written secret. To determine if you can do this, you need to consult your university's intellectual property policy. Very likely the policy says the university owns the rights to all your work, in which case you should hand it over. In any case, keeping secrets when secrecy is not an ethical requirement is poor scientific practice.


Well, no and yes. In general, it is good to carry away a lot of unfinished projects so that you don't need to start your career with a clean slate. Having a notebook full of research ideas is a big advantage.

But, and this may be the overriding concern, you probably need to do what your advisor requires. It may not be a good career move to push back too hard on such things.

But maybe you can find a middle ground. If there were things s/he has long expected you to complete you would probably be wise to make that happen.

As to the code, it is hard to say. If your project is part of a larger, multi-person, continuing project then the code may well belong to the project. Otherwise you may need to do some negotiating. You will want, at least, recognition, acknowledgement for any future use as well as to guarantee that you may use it for other things.


I recommend trying to go ahead and get the Ph.D. and giving vague assuarances of taking care of the other project. After you have the union card in your hand, your negotiating position is much stronger and you can decide how to play it. Prior to it, your advisor can and it sounds like is extorting things that are not a part of getting the degree.

  • 1
    1. I would not approve a PhD thesis based on vague assurances. 2. You assume the asker can get a job. 3. You assume the job has union protection, which is not available everywhere. Jun 30, 2019 at 1:35
  • 1
    I think "union card" here is a colloquial way of referring to the PhD degree, not an actual union. Jun 30, 2019 at 1:36
  • 1. You should approve it, based on the guy meeting the degree requirements. Not some side project. 2. That wasn't a part of the discussion. 3. Woosh.
    – guest
    Jun 30, 2019 at 2:24

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