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I received two Ph.D. offers this year. The offer from A came too late, which was later than the deadline for the decision of offer from B. Thus, I decided to take the offer from B. Although I have committed to B, I am really interested in what we proposed to do in the project with A. Thus, can I ask A if we can still work on part of the project even if I didn't go there?

I would like to finish these studies we proposed, and thus it would be better to include their name in it if I finished. Actually, I will definitely work on the proposal in the future. Since they mentored me a lot on the proposal, I do think it's not my own project and I would better carry out the project with them.

Update: I decided to focus on my own Ph.D. but I told A I would be willing to conduct the proposed work someday!

Thank you so much for you advice!

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For the title question, our existing Q&A How should I phrase an important question that I need to ask a professor? applies - professors are human people that communicate with other human people using words, but they're often busy so it's best to phrase things concisely and directly.

However, do consider that you've made a commitment to do research with B, and especially as someone learning to do research (that's the whole point of a PhD), you should expect your research to be a full-time job.

If you have a proposed project with B scoped to be a reasonable basis for a PhD degree, and a proposed project with A scoped to be a reasonable basis for a PhD degree, that's two full-time jobs. You say you don't think it would be difficult, but... if it wasn't difficult enough to be a substantial time investment, it's probably not very interesting research. I'm guessing your estimate of the time involved is a bit off - it's even difficult for experienced researchers to estimate time required for a given project (except with more experience you learn to multiply your initial estimate a few-fold)!

I'd recommend if you do reach out to A, you keep commitments vague (for example, expressing hope and interest to do the proposed work "some time") and get settled in to your primary research project first. Then, if you're actually feeling like you have a bunch of free time to commit to the project (I'm skeptical, but you might prove me wrong!), suggest it to your PhD advisor B as a side-project to improve your breadth of experience before committing to the project and setting a definitive plan with A. I wouldn't recommend taking on a substantial side-project without your primary advisor's approval.

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  • Thank you so much for this. and I would improve my English and writing skills! And yeah you're right and that's really a good point. I didn't realize it, as I just thought if time permits I would definitely finish some of these studies and it would be better to tell A about it. Thank you again, now I know what to do!!
    – syyyys
    Jun 3 at 1:08

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