Is it possible that a staff member (Asst. Prof.) offers their help to a PhD student even they are not their co-supervisor ? How involved (if solicited) could Lab members (mostly Asst. Prof.) be in the research of PhD students.

Thanks for the clarification.

  • In some fields it may be essential. What is yours?
    – Buffy
    Dec 6 '20 at 20:13
  • Computer science
    – Sam
    Dec 6 '20 at 20:41
  • Some places have fairly active, but small, research "seminars" with a few faculty and students. Sharing can be pretty wide in such groups without formal arrangements.
    – Buffy
    Dec 6 '20 at 20:43

That's fairly common (at least in my field). In a CV, the involved staff member could specify their role in this PhD project as "assisting supervision", to distinguish it from a formal/official co-supervision role. Of course, such an involvement should be discussed with the formal supervisors first, since it might otherwise lead to tensions.


At least in my bailiwick, mathematics in the U.S., I've always been willing to answer questions if I could, without necessarily thinking about official obligations or channels or prohibitions.

Yes, in some cases, oddly, I was chastised for talking to "other peoples' students" down at the coffee machine, etc. Unclear to me the genuine motivations for such complaints.

But, indeed, my own picture of, for example, "a math dept", is that people profitably talk to each other, without formal rules or arrangements.

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