What are the advantages and disadvantages of doing your PhD research (in science, math, or engineering) at a non-academic lab (like a government or industrial lab) vs. the traditional academic setting? (Of course, the degree is granted by a university.)
When is one option better than the other if you have the choice between doing your research in an academic or non-academic setting?
A few potential advantages I can think of:
- You're likely to be hired by the lab after graduation. If you don't want to enter academia and are happy with the lab, this could be your career. If you do want to enter academia, often you're in good company because leaving research labs for academia isn't uncommon.
- You can work with more people (your school's students and professors and the lab's researchers). This'll expand your professional network and expose you to different perspectives.
- Your affiliation with the lab could add some credibility to you and your research.
A few potential disadvantages:
- Travel could be problematic if your school and your lab aren't close. This could be mitigated by taking care of the coursework first.
- The research topic is often dictated by someone in the lab if you are funded by them. If you decide this topic is not worth researching or not interesting then you might have a problem. Politics in the lab could change the research topic in the future and that might also be a problem.