I'm a first year PhD in Computer Science at a UK university. Recently, my supervisor has asked me to join a funded research project consisting of other post-docs and lecturers, i.e. I'll be the only PhD student in that project. My supervisor believes that it will be helpful for me to join since my research topic and a project's theme have many similarities, which I also agree. However, he doesn't mention anything about if I get paid to work in that project. So, I wonder if it is normal for a PhD student to work in a funded research project without getting paid.

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    In my field, funding and what projects people are effectively working on are sometimes pretty disjoint things. Do you currently get funding out of any project? If that is the case, I do not see a problem with you joining the new project. However, if you are not getting any money (or only a small stipend) I would certainly recommend negotiating.
    – xLeitix
    Mar 4, 2014 at 20:21
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    Also, I should add that joining a project with many more senior people that is in a relevant topic to your PhD will likely be in fact beneficial to you.
    – xLeitix
    Mar 4, 2014 at 20:23
  • @xLeitix: I receive partial funding from the university but not from any project. I also agree with you on that benefit, that's the reason I don't want to push or offend anyone from the project by asking about financial benefit :)
    – user12635
    Mar 4, 2014 at 20:28
  • In computer science it is very common (one might say usual) to be paid as a PhD student (although as xLeitix said, funding is not necessarily related to the project you are working on). I suggest you talk to your supervisor about this.
    – ff524
    Mar 4, 2014 at 20:30
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    @user12635 Well, asking for funding shouldn't offend anybody.
    – xLeitix
    Mar 4, 2014 at 20:31

1 Answer 1


I'm not in the U.K., but in my part of the world, it's common (one might say usual) for computer science PhD students to be paid. Is the determination of whether a PhD student is paid related to whether the project is funded? Not necessarily.

When is it appropriate to ask about payment?

Should you talk to your supervisor about this? Instead of asking

Is it normal to not be paid?

ask yourself

Is it unusual to be paid?

In any scenario in which is is not unusual to be paid, it is neither inappropriate nor offensive to (politely) ask whether you can be paid for work you are doing.* In your case, it is definitely appropriate. So, go ahead and talk to your supervisor about this.

* Here is an example of a scenario where it is not usual to be paid, and it was therefore inappropriate to ask for payment. As you can see, it's an extreme example :)

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