I completed my master's dissertation with an adviser and was interested in the PhD program. Unfortunately I was told that my master's adviser didn't have funding and the other professor in department was doing an interesting research about an emerging field and he agreed to fund my PhD for next 4 years. He is aware that my previous lab let me go because of funding issues. Research in my previous lab and present lab are completely different, they are in no way related.

Now I still have strong interest in my adviser's work partly because some of the projects were my ideas and I don't want others to end up implementing them and also research is significant enough to have a journal published on it (an important addition to my resume). They have time till August to finish them off and I estimate they require at least 2-3 hours of work a day. I was considering volunteering for my Master's adviser and finishing off those projects. Will it be OK if I volunteer in my personal time to try and finish them? Do students ever do this?

  • 1
    Is a PhD student allowed to have "personal time"? Some people consider it a "full-time" job, where full time means 24/7. You have to be sure your advisor agrees on this particular aspect.
    – Trylks
    Mar 31, 2014 at 9:37
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    @Trylks well your adviser doesn't own you. Its life and you should have time to pursue your individual goals. Otherwise its just an abusive relation. I will pitch to my PhD adviser saying i am helping doing some code work for my previous adviser and this will help me keep my coding skills current and up to date and i will do only after i complete after my work and on my personal time.If he doesn't agree ,then i don't want to end up on an unhealthy relationship for next 4 years.I better go and get a job and do Phd later.
    – James stan
    Mar 31, 2014 at 15:30
  • Congratulations on your attitude. Some people undergo an "abusive relation" because they don't want to postpone getting a PhD.
    – Trylks
    Mar 31, 2014 at 15:46
  • @Trylks well i am an software engineer and i can get job pretty easily(not to sound like jerk but i let go off 2 software engg jobs to do an PHD).I am getting an PHD because i am truly interested in research. I believe people will perform better when they are allowed to have their own time and left to pursue their own life outside research. Why does google or MS ask their research interns to work only 8 hours ? Its not like they dont care about research but they realise leaving students to pursue their own goals beyond their research will make workers more happy and productive.
    – James stan
    Mar 31, 2014 at 15:54
  • I wish more people and more companies realized that, in some places they simply shove work into people until they fail, blame them for failing and get a new slave. E.g. Spain. With a 27% of unemployment, there is a strong supply of fresh new guys to keep going. Thx for reminding me that there is hope at the other side of the ocean. I'm going offtopic. This is a nice opportunity to check what type of person is your adviser and that piece of information is useful to make a more informed decision now that you are starting your PhD.
    – Trylks
    Mar 31, 2014 at 16:33

2 Answers 2


Your personal time is yours by definition. A good idea though might be to talk to your Ph.D. advisor. If your former and current research projects do not overlap to much and you do not use results obtained in one lab and not yet published in the other lab I don't see any problem. Of course there may also be some personal animosity or rivalry between the former and current advisor so its a very good idea that your Ph.D. advisor is aware of this other activity and does not find out about it from a third party.


Since your PhD is funded there will naturally be expectations from your supervisor and funding body to deliver results in the future. While you are free to work on other projects I would advise you not to divert too much time from your PhD project. Provided you can balance your time then yes why not enjoy yourself and finish your masters projects?

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