I'm in the second half of my PhD, and my advisor wants me to come up with an original research project. I also have a mentor (who is not a professor at my university) who has also been telling me to come up with an original research project.

I came up with a project, but it was for my mentor, and not my advisor. I'm not sure if my advisor would want to work on the project with us, and if he did it would be weird because he wouldn't be the supervisor.

What should I do? I feel like it would be awkward to talk to him about this.

  • 7
    It is not clear: 1) what is the role of your mentor in your dissertation process; 2) what is the professional relationship, if any, between your advisor and your mentor - do they know each other? do they have a history of collaboration? is it positive or negative? Clarifying all these aspects might generate more useful feedback. Commented May 31, 2016 at 6:00
  • @AleksandrBlekh My mentor and I have no formal relationship with each other (anymore). He has met my advisor before but I get the feeling my advisor doesn't think very highly of my mentor's main area of research. I've also invited my advisor to work on other projects with me and my mentor, and he politely declined.
    – user54928
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 6:07
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    Maybe your advisor has a good reason for not thinking highly of this area of research, ask him what the original project should be about (which area of research).
    – Gautier C
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 6:16
  • 2
    @user54928: In that case, having a formal dissertation committee relationship with your advisor, if possible, I would reconsider your decision to collaborate with your mentor, at least, for the duration of the dissertation. Also, there is a significant risk of loosing focus on your primary (dissertation) research topic - maintaining focus on the main topic is a challenging enough task. Commented May 31, 2016 at 14:49
  • The best answer depends on the field, research project, time to complete and to write papers for this field, productivity in this area of research, availability and willingness of the supervisor,etc. If possible, I would go towards two directions, one with the supervisor, and one with the mentor, but in this way you can lose focus. So the best course of action would be to discuss all these questions with your supervisor.
    – Nikey Mike
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 19:24

1 Answer 1


The best solution would be to meet up with your advisor and discuss regarding this matter.

As your advisor instructed to find a research project, you did. The project is relevant to your mentor but you are unsure whether your advisor would be interested in the project.

This is a legitimate doubt that only your advisor can clarify.

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