I would like to ask you some clarifications about the relationship between postdoctoral fellow and supervisor. In particular, does the postdoctoral fellow need to work only on the supervisor's research or there is some room for its own research?


  • Are you paid from a supervisor's grant? If yes, a significant portion of your work should focus on the grants' objectives.
    – Alexandros
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 15:23
  • Normally, people write this kind of grants on their CV. Or simply, you can ask your (or potential supervisor, as you did not specify it) supervisor. Commented May 31, 2016 at 15:28
  • I see thanks. Then I do not think I am being paid from a grant; my salary has been allocated for me from the department.
    – frank
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 15:29
  • You have signed a contract. The contract says what project you are working on and what you will be doing in this project. Projects may also have official web pages, listing objectives, deliverables and so-on.
    – Alexandros
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 15:30
  • I only have an offer letter, never signed a contract.
    – frank
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 17:55

1 Answer 1


This is very field specific, and possibly country specific as well.

In math in the US, most postdocs are hired by the department and it's generally considered a positive if they're also working on their own independent research as well as work with their supervisor.

  • I see thanks. But what if nobody has defined clear plans for my positions?
    – frank
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 17:54
  • 2
    @frank: I don't know what that question means. If you're not sure what the expectations for your position is, you should ask someone in your chain of employment. If you have a well-defined supervisor, you should ask them. If not, your department chair or some other department official.
    – Henry
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 19:27

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