I began a paid position as PhD research assistant in Germany. Immediately after beginning the position, the principal investigator (PI) who hired me moved country and left the project (but remains part of the project as he secured funding). The ex-PI, new PI and I have meetings once a month to discuss progress, with little contact between these meetings.

I also enrolled on an associated PhD program and got assigned a PhD supervisor who is an expert in my area of study. I have monthly meetings with my PhD supervisor. There are therefore 3 people who are supervising my work, but it feels like I am without any supervision because these three people have overlapping and minimal roles. I am employed by a research institute and taking a PhD at an associated university. My supervisor and new PI are associated with the research institute.

I want to do a PhD but I feel like without any supervision I am in a post-doc like situation. I think I need more supervision/guidance mainly from my PhD supervisor, but it is not his role to discuss the work I am paid for, that should be the new PI.

Do you think I should be more direct in setting up more frequent meetings with my PhD supervisor?

Is anyone aware of how to best manage the paid positions that are quite separate from the PhD itself, and the multiple people involved?

  • What happens in these meetings? Did you say there that you think you need more supervision? Commented Jan 6, 2021 at 18:21
  • No, I get the impression the PI doesn't want to be contacted outside of these meetings. That's only an impression though, I will bring it up in the next meeting, thanks Commented Jan 6, 2021 at 20:17
  • I'd think the issue may not be so much the number of meetings but what happens in them. Use them more actively to get what you need! Commented Jan 6, 2021 at 23:16
  • @Confused_German_123 By removing the introduction, the question would not be understandable. I've thus reverted the changes, shortening a bit the text. If you prefer removing certain details to avoid being recognized, remove them but please try to keep the question understandable. If you wish, to improve anonymity, you can flag the question to have it disassociated from your profile. See meta.stackexchange.com/questions/96732/… Commented Feb 28, 2021 at 20:51

1 Answer 1


If I understand it correctly, your funding comes from one source, but your doctoral studies are somewhat (at least) independent of that.

You need to satisfy your PI and others in your funding stream that your work is good, but since this isn't a permanent position, your primary focus should be on a productive relationship with your PhD supervisor.

So, yes, frequent meetings with the supervisor but without neglecting the others, unless you can find a different funding stream.

Focus, primarily, on long term goals. If the job in the lab supports that, all the better, but the degree is primary.

  • Thank you for the response. You are correct about the structure, I'll aim to satisfy the PI and increase frequency of meetings with the supervisor. A reminder of the long-term goal is valuable, I often forget that aim in the current confusion. Commented Jan 6, 2021 at 13:05

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