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I think the title is pretty self-explanatory. I am very happy with my current research topic but I would like to have some side research. Is it OK? And in case it is, how do people get those projects?

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    Side projects result your own interests or from collaboration.
    – Roland
    Nov 22 at 7:51
  • Are you talking about side projects that require lab equipment and funding? Or just side projects that you think about in your off hours, where you need no equipment.
    – GEdgar
    Nov 22 at 17:36
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It's perfectly ok. In fact, I'd say it's a good idea to work on things that don't directly contribute to your thesis: you learn new things, you gain some valuable independence from your supervisor and your mind and creativity can be refreshed by tackling a new problem. Just don't let it become your priority, or I guess your supervisor might be unhappy.

People start side projects on their own, based on their own ideas and interests, or by meeting others and having interesting conversations. This can be as simple as chatting to someone at lunch in your institute, in the bar after work or at workshops and conferences.

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    Make sure your advisor is happy with your progress. And, it is good to finish your degree having a notebook full of unfinished work for the future.
    – Buffy
    Nov 22 at 17:08
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    @Buffy I think we need a new nickname for you: Fastest Gun on the Web ;)
    – astronat
    Nov 22 at 17:09
  • I don't think this is a valid answer for many students. Nov 22 at 17:12
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    @ScottSeidman, can you say why? Some who can't handle it are unlikely to try it, I think. Do you still see harm if the advisor is happy?
    – Buffy
    Nov 22 at 17:14
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    No, I don't see harm if the advisor is happy, but the answer isn't "Yes, so long as your advisor is happy", -- it's simply "Yes". I have no idea what this student's background is, so "this student is probably OK for this" is perhaps too ambitious. Also, there is occasionally a disconnect where a student just misperceives a mentors outlook, believing that all think their performance is fine, when some think it isn't. Nov 22 at 17:35
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This is going to depend on your whole performance as a student, and whether adequate progress is being made toward your primary project.

The better part of valor is to ask your mentor or committee, if you have one. Those are the people monitoring your progress.

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    I agree that the advisor needs to sign off. I also found it useful as a doctoral student to keep a notebook of ideas/problems that would be worth following up later. These naturally arose as part of my research and jotting them down gave me a pretty big future work agenda. They were mostly just "what if... were changed to ...". They didn't distract from the work for more than the time to capture the idea so I wouldn't forget it.
    – Buffy
    Nov 22 at 17:23
  • And, I think that a person who would ask the question (the OP here) is probably in a good enough place to at least consider it, with caveats, of course.
    – Buffy
    Nov 22 at 17:25

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