I am working as an undergraduate research assistant for a professor in the mathematics department, on a specific project. Looking at the project I realized that there may be connections to a different area of mathematics that my supervisor doesn't specialize in, that could provide a potentially new research direction. I have previously met another professor who specializes in the connected research area, and he told me to stay in touch. Would it be appropriate for me to tell the other professor about my idea, and ask him if he is aware of any research papers on the topic? He is quite busy as it is so I don't think he would be interested in joining in on the project, I more just wanted his advice about whether this idea makes sense and if there is any previous research about it. A google search did not reveal any related papers, but I am wondering if there may be some papers out there with a more niche title that I wouldn't think to search.

Would this be appropriate? I am very new to researching and academia so I am not too sure about the politics of it all and would greatly appreciate some advice.


  • 1
    I would talk to my current supervisor first.
    – Boba Fit
    Commented Apr 3, 2023 at 14:25
  • Don't assume the professor is busy, and has no time for you. Personally, if an interesting idea pops up that is worth my time, I'll drop everything. :) Commented Apr 3, 2023 at 20:43

1 Answer 1


Yes, I think it is totally appropriate to seek ideas and guidance from wherever you find it. Don't put yourself in a box.

Your current advisor should readily accept this and they don't have an "ownership" over you in any sense. If for any reason they don't accept your inquiries to others then they have a problem.

At some point mention to each that you are talking to the other, but you don't need permission to seek help or information.

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