So I am considering a PhD position as it appears one opened up and I was contacted about it by a professor. I'm not desperate to get a PhD. I think it's a nice goal and I am interested in the subject but its completion is not something I am dead set on.

I have read some horror stories about hours worked which I refuse to fall into. I plan on documenting my hours worked and limit it to about 9-5, mon-fri, basically view it as a very poorly paying industry job while maintaining time for personal projects/startup ideas.

So my question is if my advisor starts to get pushy and demand I spend more time working, what's the best way to respectfully maintain my boundaries?

I figure the worst that could happen is my advisor cuts my funding at which point I would terminate. Practically speaking my MS is complete so besides giving me a bad reference there's not a ton that could be done to me.

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    Many people draw conclusions out of your post like "I am not dedicated to research", "I will under no circumstances work longer then 8 hours", "as soon as I find something better, I will go". Can you comment on them how true or false they are? Also, which country do you want to do the phd in?
    – user111388
    Commented Jul 12, 2020 at 11:23
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    My interest in completing the PhD is dependent with how much benefit I gain from it vs doing something else which depends on opportunities available at the given time. Again I think it's a nice goal, probably worth trying but I will continue to also spend time on other things. I live in the US. Commented Jul 12, 2020 at 15:50
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    The best weeks of grad school were the ones where I worked 80 hours because I couldn't stop thinking about the fascinating problem I was solving. I'd wake up in the night with a new idea and start working on it then. Of course, not every week can be that way. Commented Jul 13, 2020 at 12:34
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    A PhD is an exercise in personal development. If you treat it like a job you can leave at the office, you're only really cheating yourself. You're right that the pay is poor - because the dividends are paid in experience. People work hard at a PhD because you have a limited window of opportunity to make the most of your time there. If you're planning to just treat this like a job, I'd seriously consider just getting a normal job. The pay is better and you don't seem terribly interested in taking advantage of the non-financial incentives that make the PhD worthwhile.
    – J...
    Commented Jul 13, 2020 at 12:54
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    I strongly disagree that wanting to keep regular hours is missing the point of a PhD. I would actually say the opposite: failing to set boundaries around work during your PhD is a great way to ruin your mental and physical health, can make you susceptible to workplace abuse, and, ironically, will probably make you less productive. I would recommend that OP look into Cal Newport's blog posts on "fixed-schedule productivity" which address this exact issue in the context of graduate school.
    – Patrick B.
    Commented Aug 10, 2020 at 19:33

13 Answers 13


First of all, I know many PhD students (also myself) who did exactly that and finished their phd: They worked 40 hours a week (or less), had a "normal life" , knew they would go to industry afterwards and wanted to learn/do research before (and stay connected to the system "university") because they loved uni/studying. It helps that in my country, studying and also titles are traditionally seen as something valuable (so there is no feeling of "only study if this aids you in your future job" in my country). Some students also saw it as a fun experience to live abroad before returning home. For me, it was similar: I didn't want to become a researcher because for me the postdoc life seems horrible -- but one can do a phd realtively risk-free. (Now I teach at university).

It is certainly not possible to work only 40h with all profs/in all subjects. Maybe also not in all countries (in which one do you want to study?) Probably it is also not possible with the most famous universities/professors.

I do recommend you to do good research on your prof what kind of person they are. Is it possible to do this kind of work with them or not?

I do think your attitude "I am not dead set on completing" is great. If the prof makes unreasonable demands (or other things like misconduct), just go. When they suggest longer working hours, tell them you don't want to do this unless absolutely necessary, if they keep insisting, just go. Do keep your eyes open while doing the phd for skills you need in industry.

Note that there are even (incredible) people who finish a PhD and have little kids (and some of them, no partner!)

(Of course, you might have two fewer papers afterwards for a good university career, but as this doesn't seem to be your goal..)

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    +1, though I would strengthen "do good research on your prof" to "explicitly discuss expectations and goals with the prof before accepting the position."
    – cag51
    Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 17:54
  • Bear in mind that this "just go" ultimatum is equally likely to be wielded against you. PIs are used to being able to hold completion (and future career / network) over their PhDs, so you will need to mean it when you say this won't work on you
    – benxyzzy
    Commented Jul 11, 2020 at 11:38
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    @benxyzzy: Yes. But if the professor says "do this bad thing or I kick you out" it is better not work with them.
    – user111388
    Commented Jul 11, 2020 at 13:23
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    This is almost word for word what I intended to reply. I was in that exact situation, had great fun with my PhD, had great fun with my friends partying hard, had great fun with my girlfriend to the point of marrying her and had a great time working for a company by the end of my PhD (which lengthened it by a year or so). I left academia after that (a mixture of not wanting to work in a feudal system, attraction to industry and willingness to quit at the top of the fun and to have only great, fondling memories of that extraordinary time in my life)
    – WoJ
    Commented Jul 11, 2020 at 14:39
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    +1 across the board. I'd also advise you to contact some students who have worked with your prospective mentor to get a feel for what that person's expectations are like in practice.
    – Patrick B.
    Commented Aug 10, 2020 at 19:41

One of the nice things about working at a university is that the working hours tend to be very flexible. In my experience, this is the main reason why PhD students (and faculty) don't have a 9 to 5 workday. Some work late, but many of those start late. Some work in burst, working long hours for some weeks (before a deadline), and taking it easy in other weeks. This flexibility is realy nice, but it does make it easier for advisors to demand unreasonable working hours from PhD students. We have all heard horror stories, but none of this happened to me or anyone I know directly. Most advisors are just normal humans who don't want to exploit others. Also, the topic of the power imbalance between advisors and PhD students is very well known in universities, and in all universities I have been at there are many faculty who may not be actively searching for signs of abuse, but do keep an eye open. None of this guarantees that no abuse happens, but it does put the horror stories in perspective (that does not help if you find yourself in such a horror story)

I have known one PhD student who maintained a Monday to Friday 9-5 workweek. This requires a lot of discipline, as you cannot rely on the institution to impose those hours on you (that is the flip-side of flexibility). She could do that by being very efficient while at work. By doing so, she got more work done than most PhD students who worked long hours. People, including her advisor, knew that, and respected her for that.

However, given the way you describe your "interest" in the position (not interested in completing, very poorly paid industry job), it does not seems you have the right motivation for this job. So I would recommend you think again whether this is really what you want to do.

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    I don't see the OP is not interested in completing the PhD. They mention they are not dead set on completing. I think that means "I want to finish, but if my advisor demands unreasonable things like abandoing the rest of my life I would rather give up". This is a good attitude, not a bad one. Remember that on this site, there is usually the advice "walk, don't run" and not "finish the phd no matter how much your health suffers".
    – user111388
    Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 10:53
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    The complete sentence is "I think it's a nice goal and I am interested in the subject but its completion is not something I am dead set on." That does not sound very motived to me... Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 11:34
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    It does exactly sound very motivated to me. OP wants to do research but not at the cost of their personal life. This is totally reasonable. (If everyone would do this, conditions for phd students would be much better)
    – user111388
    Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 11:36
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    @user111388 There's commonly a point in the middle of your PhD where you'll inevitably feel like giving up (which is an ok thing to do obviously, if need be, but may have an adverse impact on you in the short term). The thing that gets you through that is generally determination. The OP sounds half-hearted about finishing the PhD before even starting it. As a result, the chances that they'll end up giving up half-way through seem quite high. That won't be good for the OP. Few sensible PIs would accept someone with this attitude going into a PhD. Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 11:53
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    Note also the comment "I want some side hustles though and if they get funded or we're successful I would put the PhD on hold" - i.e. "I'm only doing the PhD as a 'faute de mieux' thing while I try and make other things work, and if they do, then 'c'ya!'." That just means taking up a PhD slot that the PI could have given to somebody else who actually intended to finish the PhD. Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 11:57

"basically view [the PhD] as a very poorly paying industry job while maintaining time for personal projects/startup ideas"

Only that a PhD is not an industry job. In fact it is not even a job, at least not in most cases, or the successful cases.

How does the following sound like? "I want to star in films by Quarantine Tarantino or Martin Scorsese and become a Hollywood star. But I'm afraid they will push me to work beyond 40 hours per week for each film I'm starring in!"

Like any other highly creative and competitive work (e.g., film starring), doing research is not a job (again, in the successful cases). It is a dedication that one usually is passionate about. Viewing research and being an academic as a job is flawed in my opinion. Although it is possible to reduce it merely to "a job", it is logically flawed. If it is merely a job then it is not a good one: you can work less, be under much less pressure, and earn more and faster in other jobs.

Hence, my answer is that the premise of your question is dubious, and thus there seems not to be an appropriate answer to your question in the first place.

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    (Not the downvoter). I see no flaw: The user is motivated enough to work for less pay because of passion. But they don't want to work crazy hours. With "a job", IMO OP means "work job-like hours", not "doing something without motivation and passion".
    – user111388
    Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 11:52
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    Research is not highly competitive work, except for those aiming for a tenured position in a research university, or something similar. As most PhD graduates end up with jobs outside the academia, we should not assume that PhD students are even trying to become academics. Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 18:52
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    "except for those aiming for a tenured position in a research university, or something similar."---which is basically the vast majority of PhD students. So the fact that they don't end up with academic jobs just proves the extreme level of competition.
    – Dilworth
    Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 20:10
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    @Dilworth: do you have a source for your claim that this is true for the "vast majority of PhD students"? Among the math/computer science PhDs in my social circle, as well as among the psychology PhD students my wife supervises (and I work with on their statistics), I would say 10-20% of the students aim at a professorship. The vast majority I know just want to stay in academia for a few more years, go into more depth in a particular subject, and then leave. (As did I.) Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 20:44
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    There's quite a bit of research that shows working more than 40 hours a week makes your work quality worse and lowers your total work output. You haven't made a very good argument for working more than 40 hours a week on a PhD -- the gist of your argument is pretty much survivorship bias.
    – Kathy
    Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 22:37

I do think it is possible to do a PhD and only work 40 hrs a week on a normal week, if you are head down, supper efficient and committed with in that time. I'm not sure how possible it is if you are absolutely ridged about that, never working more than 9-5 irrespective of the circumstances. There will be times when experiments take longer, or deadlines are approaching when more is needed. The better organised you and the supervisor are, the less common such time will be, but I don't think they can ever be completely eliminated. For what its worth, I think this is also true of any profession job, academic or not.

In terms of commitment, I think its healthy to feel that you could walk away if it doesn't work out. But do have to want it to work out. The way you word things makes me feel like it working out and you finishing are not even your best case scenario (which would be your side hussle to pay off). If you are taking a PhD, the supervisor (at least a good one) if investing a lot of their personal capital and work into you. A student who leaves is a black mark against a supervisor. For a young supervisor in a competitive field it can be career-ending. For a poor or abusive supervisor this is deserved. And if the PhD is making somebody unhappy, hopefully a good supervisor would be able to take it on the chin. But to go in with this being your preferred outcome is not a good sign. This is what I meant when I talked about taking a PhD "in good faith" on your previous question.

If what you want is a poorly paying industry job, get a poorly paid industry job. A PhD is not an equivalent experience.


If you want to maintain this boundary, I would say it's quite simple. You tell the professor now, before starting the PhD: "I will not work beyond 5pm or on the weekends. I do want to keep side hustles going. Do you still want to offer me the PhD position?"

If they say yes, awesome, start the job. If they ask for more time from you, remind them of the boundaries you told them about before starting. As you say, there is not a whole lot that can be done to you, if getting the PhD or the recommendation is not important to you. However, do not be surprised if under these conditions, they do not want to offer it to you: I know of multiple professors who refused to take students who wanted to keep their own company going during the PhD. Precisely for the reason you mention: if the company takes off, the student will usually want to focus on that and not their PhD. And do be honest about this: pretending the PhD is your ultimate goal to the professor, while it's not, is not ok.

That said, even if the professor says yes, I would think really hard about whether you want to do this. There is nothing wrong with protecting your time off, and I actually think that on average I did not work much more than 40 hours per week during my PhD (I did some 80-hour work weeks before conference deadlines, but there was probably also enough slacking to offset the extremely busy weeks).

But this attitude of really not wanting to work a minute more and not caring (a whole lot) whether you finish is not often found in PhD students. It is also an attitude that may limit what you get from the PhD in terms of opportunities. If you're also happy to walk away after two years with no papers and no new opportunities (and possibly some burnt bridges) - then you have nothing to lose. If you would not be happy with that outcome, then consider it some more.

  • 2
    "It's quite simple" -- if and only if you have good social skills to formulate this well. "I don't want to work more than 40 hours on average" might sound bad to say in an interview, even if the prof was okay with it.
    – user111388
    Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 18:59
  • I would try to publish at least one paper, making it somewhat worth while even if I didn't complete it. Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 19:27
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    @FourierFlux If a professor still says yes after you say to them what you described here, here's something to think about (although it's less of an issue with PhD positions than "postdoctoral" ones): Is there a chance that this professor was just looking for more manpower for their lab? Someone to get mechanical work done? Do the programming, do the experiment, move the big project forward (their project, not yours): these are things you can do Mon-Fri 9-5 and treat as a normal job.
    – Szabolcs
    Commented Jul 12, 2020 at 11:37
  • @FourierFlux If this is what that professor expects of you, you'd also be denied any independence, the chance to set your own course, the opportunity for creative work, all of those things that are worth getting out of a PhD. If you present yourself as just wanting to be a worker, with strict separation between work and personal time, you risk being treated as a mere worker. Except you'd get much lower pay than if they hired a programmer or a technician. So what would you be gaining from the PhD?
    – Szabolcs
    Commented Jul 12, 2020 at 11:40

basically view it as a very poorly paying industry job while maintaining time for personal projects/startup ideas.

That is a bad way to start a PHD. There are a lot of "poorly paid industry jobs" in which the misalignment between you and your supervisors expectations will be smaller.

Yes, you can do a PHD 9 to 5, yes you may even get the title, and yes, maybe your supervisor is ok with the 9 to 5 part. What they definitely will be not ok with is that getting the phd for you is a low priority.

Maybe they would be happy to hire you as a lab technician (yes, bright people are needed there too, even if they don't want to get professor). But the continued mismatch between your goals and what you signed up for can not be a persistent thing. What I could imagine what works is: you check for 6 months, maybe you opinion changes. If it doesn't, you talk to you prof an tell him you are willing to work in the lab, but that a scientific career may not be for you (that is a discussion they will have had more often in their life).


Same as with a related question, there is an issue of the field.

You might not be able to, if your field does not permit

  • Are you basically doing an office job in a low-competitive field? Probably, yes.
  • Are you literary working in a field? Probably, no.
  • Are you working with animals or cell cultures? Probably, no. And also forget about holidays and weekends for the duration of your PhD.
  • Is it easier / cheaper to get machine / instrument time during non-working hours and you really need those 1000000 cores / 100000 MWh / 1E14 MeV / 7 meter dishes for your research? Probably, no.
  • Do the experiments take a lot of time and typically finish in the middle of the night? Probably, no.
  • Do you need to perform observations at night, because Sun is evil? You guess it!
  • It is well accepted in your field that a person cannot maintain top intellectual performance for the full 8 hours and you really need that to get your research done? Probably, yes. (However, my impression is that mathematicians use quite every single moment of time for their research, they just interweb highly demanding parts with routine.)
  • Are there too many aspiring PhD candidates and too few positions? Probably, no. Because, why get someone, who works 40 hours/week, if you can get someone willing to work 80 hours/week for the same money? Sorry, this is cynical and probably against the law.
  • Again, are there too many aspiring PhD candidates and too few positions? Then it would be possible to hire someone for 20 hours/week and to coerce them to work 40+ hours and also on a weekend. Again, labor laws might have a different opinion on that. But, probably, no.

What are your goals?

People here mentioned a lot about PhD studies not being a job, research passion, and so on. If some anecdotical evidence helps you, most people I know, who have remained in academia, do not work 9-to-5.

So, if your goal is to stay at the university after your PhD: probably, no.

But why?

You might ask, why are we doing all this? Why are many of us sacrificing a lot of non-working time to do work-related things? Very simple. Research, and, by extension, academia, is not a job. It's a passion, which, coincidently, gets the bills payed.

  • I think the problem is more the funding than the field itself. It is completely thinkable that people in biology etc. have holidays, get properly compensated for working at night - the problem is only that their is too less money and too many people are willing to take the little money.
    – user111388
    Commented Jul 13, 2020 at 17:37
  • Funding is a problem, too. But the thing I've head through a grapevine, almost verbatim: "If you work with cell cultures, you don't have weekends, because you need to feed your cells every day". It might be insufficient funding for technical personnel, yes. Or it might be just how some labs roll. Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 22:59
  • But that's not the cell cultures, but funding or a sadistic professor. In the so-called "real life", there are also jobs where 24/7 someone has to work (eg prison or public transportation), yet people alternate on weekends and get paid a bonus for working on weekends and get the time they worked off during the week.
    – user111388
    Commented Jul 15, 2020 at 7:19
  • @user111388 No, it's the cell cultures, or the animals, or so forth. There are similar jobs in industry where you know going into it that you might need to work a weird shift or late nights here an there since someone has to be there to do the work. Ideally you work in a big enough group where you coordinate the bad shifts (academia) or you are compensated for it (industry), but sometimes it just is what it is.
    – anonymous
    Commented Apr 20, 2021 at 21:59

I like your question. I don't think so what you propose is possible. Time limits would only be enforceable in jobs which are well defined for example cutting the grass, fielding sales calls, etc. PhD is an open-ended job, quite unlike conventional ones. It is done with a fixed goal in mind. The goal may be to publish a certain amount of papers, do sufficient research, etc. Basically do some amount of work which would satisfy your supervisor. When the works are ill-defined they are less enforceable in the amount of time they take. This problem is surely going to torpedo your working hour limits. Hence it would either cause you to leave within a month or so or you would continue to solder on having completely betrayed yourself.

Of-course all this is assuming you can get an advisor to agree with your terms of working hour limits. You should count yourself to be very lucky indeed to get hold of such an advisor in the first place.


You state clearly that you wish to have finite commitment because you want to reserve time for other projects. What you are describing is de facto part-time studies.

If you are serious about your PhD, it will require as much time as needed to complete it, with little to no time for start-ups. If you are serious about a start-up, this will also require as much time as needed, leaving no time for a PhD. [Famous quote: you do not own a start-up, the start-up owns you.]

In a PhD or in the start-up world, there will be moments when 40hrs/week will be vastly insufficient because of deadlines, i.e. exams, presentations, prototyping etc to prepare. If you are working on an experiment or doing field work, you need to do as much as possible when the apparatus works or when you are in the field: one does not stop at 5pm after spending all day correctly tuning some piece of equipment. If you have an investor meeting on a Monday morning, expect to spend the weekend working on your product, or the sales pitch, or whatever is required by your boss on Monday morning or before.

Finally, if you want your supervisor to commit time and resources towards your success, you better first show that you yourself are willing commit all the time needed.


It is an interesting question. What you did not mention is what discipline you want to do a PhD in and in what country.

For instance, in the UK, PhD costs a lot of money (about £9000 per year for at least 3 years for home students and at least twice that for internationals). So, if you are paying and have done 2 years already (and spent £18000 only on fees and about the same on living costs) you are unlikely to do out.

Saying that, most people do not pay for themselves though. There are a lot of funded positions (and you will even get reasonable bursary), but they have a catch. If you are funded by the department or university, you will have to do teaching (usually, 500 hours per year, lab sessions, marking, etc). Alternatively, your position can be funded through the project grant which your supervisor has. In that case you will have to work on the project besides your PhD topic. In any case, you will effectively have two jobs.

Also, discipline do matter. I cannot say for Humanities (probably reading enormous amount of literature), but on physics, chemistry, biology you will have at least some experimental work. Some experiments are very-very long and/or require attendance over several days (including weekends). You may have some resources they require regular maintenance, e.g. mice or mosquitoes which need to be fed and cared for 7 days a week. So, in this case keeping it to 40 hours a week is virtually impossible.

In disciplines like maths, computer science, data science etc it is a bit easier. You can choose when and where you are working, but these disciplines usually involve a lot of coding, which again usually requires about 10 times more time than planned (due to code debugging).

I have done PhD in applied math, I was definitely working much less than 40 hours a week (except about 2 months during writing thesis) and still did it in less than 3 years. Yes, I was also teaching and doing actually much more than 500 hours a year (getting very generous pay for the extra hours).

In general, I would not say that normal prof will demand you to work any specific number of hours. Academia is about flexibility. Nobody cares whether you are working 1 hour a day or 20 hours a day. All people care is the results you get.

The biggest issue here is that I am afraid, you have a bit wrong attitude towards academic work in general and PhD in particular. Even if you do not actively working on something, you usually keep thinking about something ("where is the mistake?", "How to make this work?", "How to improve this?", etc). Academia is not an industrial job, it is a way of life. And PhD is not different. And you should enjoy this way of life. At the same time I should admit that I can spend a lot of time with family and maintain healthy work-life balance.

So, if you are not sure, I would suggest going to industry for several years and then decide whether you need a PhD or not. Actually, many large companies would happily fund your PhD course if you will make a compelling case that you need it to fulfill your duties better.

  • It does not change much, but fees for home students are less than half of that (£4,327 for 2019-20)
    – fqq
    Commented Jul 12, 2020 at 8:41
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    "Alternatively, your position can be funded through the project grant which your supervisor has. In that case you will have to work on the project besides your PhD topic." In most cases the PhD topic is part of the bigger grant project, not a separate one.
    – fqq
    Commented Jul 12, 2020 at 8:44
  • Thank you very much for correcting regarding fees. You are right, PhD fees are a bit lower than UG and taught PG degrees. Yet, it is still a lot.
    – Vitaly
    Commented Jul 13, 2020 at 9:46
  • Regarding the project funding, PhD topic is usually related to larger project, but in most cases not exactly the in line with the project. So, whereas learning part can be combined, actual research is actually separated. That is from my experience working in several research groups with PhDs...
    – Vitaly
    Commented Jul 13, 2020 at 9:49

Talk about this in your interview. If you aren’t having an interview, you need to make sure there is one - you need to hear the professors expectations, and share yours. If you aren’t on the same page with the professor about hours and other factors, you’ll have a challenge staying in the limits you want to set yourself, or it will lead to conflict.

A 40-hour per week doctorate is possible, if you are not expected to teach or pick up other duties besides those purely related to your research.

  • But, as I said somewhere else, formulate your statemwnt well! Most supervisors I know who have no problem with someone working "only" 40h would be turned off if someone says at the interview "I only want to work 40h on avarage". First impressions are important!
    – user111388
    Commented Jul 13, 2020 at 17:32

The first thing would be to make sure the professor you would be working with does not expect anything else. That would mean speaking to people who know them, have worked with them, or even email some of their past PhD students to see what they are like as a supervisor. Even better if there is someone in the department you know well that you can ask about them (via unofficial channels as any bad habits are more likely to be glossed over via email ect). And when speaking to them about it, it is worth raising this as a concern and ask about it. If they try to emotionally manipulate you (e.g. 'you should do this because you love it' or something to similar effect) then you can just safely ignore the offer.

A practical point if you do start is to organise regular meetings with your supervisor (which you can also ask them about) and keep track of what you accomplished in the last week and what you aim to do in the next week and in the next month to help keep you on track. This may help you be more productive, but you are going to have to work smart during those 9-5 hours. You may also have to be flexible and expect to work longer some weeks and less other weeks, or working a non-standard work week (particularly if you have international collaborators or experiments to run).

But the most important question is why are you considering doing this PhD? You said that you would be happy not to complete. Is this a field that you are interested in and want to learn more about? Is this a field you want to work in at some point in the future or are open to an academic career? Are the skills you would pick up important for future work or would you like to do a start-up in this field? Is this a placeholder that you aren't against doing but really is just there to fill time?

If this is not important for your goal career or not something that you really want to learn more about (and are willing to dedicate a number of years of your life to) then you might want to ask yourself what other options could you take that would help you towards that goal. If you are interested in start-ups you could try to get employed at a start up to see how people run them, as well as potentially getting some connections that are important for initial funding. But also keep in mind that if you are interested in start ups in this field you have been working on then the skills you would gain in a PhD would be useful, particularly there are some similarities between a start-up's lean development, and the hypothesis design/testing of research (I'm particularly thinking in the sciences).


It is actually very difficult to maintain any boundaries while doing PhD. Up to degree that in some universities PhD students employed 50 % are expected to work somewhat 120 %, and whose who do not are quickly dismissed by professor simply saying "I think you are not the right person type for a scientist".

Researchers are, you see, mad a little bit, just like a pop culture pictures them. If you want to "balance life and work" or something the like, just do not join them.

Similarly, students are often expected to work hard and not to "balance life and work" instead. PhD is still considered an education.

I do not know, maybe somebody see this answer as disrespect to something but I would like bystanders to know how the knowledge and technology we all later enjoy is built. Regardless if you search for a new planet or a new algorithm of computing, it is always a real hell of work and uncertainty.

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    As someone who is about to finish his PhD soon, the fact that you consider this "normal" is the problem itself. If what you're suggesting is true then it means that Academia is toxic to a healthy lifestyle on principal.
    – Aventinus
    Commented Jul 16, 2020 at 14:17
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    I do not know exactly the recent situation, but at the time I was doing PhD it was not uncommon to employ PhD students in some branches (notably biology) 50 %. This does not mean that these students were expected to work 50 % only, and I know the case when a person who assumed have been dismissed as I describe. This was happening inside a highly reputable university on the center of Europe. I know laboratories where professor called a meeting on Saturday, expecting all to be present. As a researcher, I see unethical to adjust the truth regardless if it looks toxic to somebody or not. Commented Jul 16, 2020 at 14:35
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    I agree with h22 that this thread is giving prospective PhD candidates a false impression, which is unethical. The current publish or perish working culture is more often than not toxic to a healthy lifestyle (look up mental health surveys of PhDs, almost all of them excelled as undergraduate students), and we should not hide that, putting all responsibility on the individual with statements like "but if you are very disciplined you can do it in 9-5" or "you don't belong to us if you are not passionate enough to be in work mode 24/7". Commented Jul 16, 2020 at 21:16
  • The overworking culture may not be worth it, and we need to think something about that. The overworking culture exists. Commented Jul 17, 2020 at 7:10

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