I am considering trying a change of PhD supervisors.

While I do get along with my current ones as humans (they are nice to me), I feel like this is not the case academically. Our interests don't align as much as we originally (end of last year, when I started) thought, and I feel like they are going to take me into a kind of project now that does not fit my expertise or where I want to go as an academic.

There is a group at my university that does things that would fit my expertise and that I would be interested in working with. I want to contact them about it and see whether they would be willing to "adopt me" (I am funded by the university with funds that are not bound to a project or a supervisor).

My question in this situation: Who should I ask first? I am worried that if I tell my supervisors about this without having sorted my "exit option" I would put myself at risk of alienating them and then being stuck in that situation if the other group does not want me/this or if I somehow need them to make this change. Then again, if I talk to the other group first, they might point out I should just talk to them first. Any advice?

  • How is your PhD funded?
    – Mark
    Commented May 2, 2020 at 10:26
  • Research council for fees and university-own scholarship for my salary. Not bound to a project/group though, given out by the university.
    – nsnfn
    Commented May 2, 2020 at 10:34

1 Answer 1


This is very hard decision to make. I would first talk to my group, let them knom my opinion and how I don't feel like that their path is my path. So i would talk to them like person to person, and listen to what they have to say. For me, this is more ethical, and less serious consequences may appear. After the conversation, I would rethink what to do next.

  • +1 shopping for options behind the back of the current supervisor would be simply rude. Also, once the supervisor is aware that your interests don't align, they may suggest some change - maybe a colleague who could help turn the project in a different direction without the student fully leaving the initial group.
    – juod
    Commented May 4, 2020 at 1:22

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