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I am a PhD student seeking to collaborate with PhD student/professors from other department. I have never made such an initiative before, and I lack the general idea on how to start. In particular:

  • If I already have some specific research questions in mind (which I will use for my dissertation research), is it important to ensure that the research lab is a reasonable match to my specific research goals? For example, if my field is natural language processing and I am specifically interested in doing a research in Transformer language models, should I ensure that the potential research lab for collaboration is also heavily into Transformer research? or can I try contacting any natural language processing labs in general, even if the lab's subarea of research is not a great match to my research goals?

  • My main supervisor is open to the idea of collaboration. To make the collaboration to happen, can I just contact the individual researcher/PhD student whom I am interested in working with? or should I first contact the professor who is leading the lab that the researcher/PhD student belongs to?

  • Should my main supervisor contact the research group on my behalf, instead of me approaching them?

  • If I collaborate with a research lab in different department, does this automatically mean that I will formally be a member of that research lab and have the professor who is leading the lab as my co-supervisor?

  • Is it okay for PhD student to collaborate with research labs from different university (assuming that my main supervisor is okay with this)?

Thank you,

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Yes, go for it. It sounds like a great idea.

Regarding your formal status with the other labs you collaborate with, as a grad student you could be considered more appropriately as an "intern" for them, which is not in the usual sense of the word, in terms of responsibilities, but I've seen the term used a lot in academia for researchers collaborating at other labs.

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