I'm a PhD student in Computer Science. Long story short: I do not have a good relationship with my advisor. I don't trust his guidance or his ethical integrity. Therefore, I am seeking external advice for my situation.

During my PhD I got one paper accepted in a first tier conference, two papers accepted in a second tier conferences, and other papers published in workshops and minor conferences. I have one journal paper accepted.

However, not all the work is on the same topic but it is scattered among three, mostly unrelated, subjects. Now my PhD is ending.

Is it negative that my work has been on three unrelated subjects?

(I cannot find a topic that allows me to merge all my results in my PhD thesis, I have to leave out at least half of my work.)

  • Welcome to Academia.SE! This is a very broad question that cannot be answered in a single post. Many of the questions you're asking have been asked by others in similar situations to yours elsewhere on this site; I recommend you search the site to see what has already been addressed.
    – eykanal
    Apr 11, 2014 at 18:09
  • Since you are so close, my advice is to work through it with your current supervisor. It sounds like you're in a reasonable position with publications so get your PhD finished, defend it and run. Single-authored works are not necessary at your level (only relevant if you're looking to do an habilitation, but even so that would be years away). The importance of journal papers for CS is controversial (see here) but not necessary. You will need that rec. letter...
    – badroit
    Apr 11, 2014 at 18:21
  • 2
    ... there is always the possibility to get a PostDoc outside your department (and outside your university), and my advice would be to not cause arguments over co-authorship now. The situation you're in may not be pretty, but my advice would be to simply keep your head down until you have your PhD.
    – badroit
    Apr 11, 2014 at 18:23
  • @eykanal Although the question is too broad, it is nice to see a question concerning someone who had trouble with his advisor and managed to overcome them (for publications at least). So, I think this is an continuation for multiple troubled advisor-student relationship questions and as such may help many other people. So, it will provoke some very interesting answers
    – Alexandros
    Apr 12, 2014 at 13:14
  • 1
    I do not have a good relationship with my advisor. I don't trust his guidance or his ethical integrity. — So why is he still your advisor?
    – JeffE
    Apr 15, 2014 at 11:47

2 Answers 2


To the degree that you do have a PhD thesis and some other work (that, more over, has been published), I would say it is a positive thing, not a negative one. It is a good combination of "breadth and depth" as one comment has put it. The general advice I have heard many times for long-term planning, is "the ideal is to try to distinguish yourself in two fields inside a discipline. One -everybody tries that. Three -and your image starts getting blurry". Or something like that (and with the caveat that "fields inside a discipline" may not mean the same thing for different disciplines).


Assuming we are talking about the U.S., at this point you just need to defend your thesis. This should be your main concern. Then publish your results in various journals/conference proceedings, as appropriate, including those results already included in the thesis.

It is irrelevant if you will merge all of your work or not, as chances are, almost nobody is going to read your thesis anyway. You will need a journal/conference publication of the same results.

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