As a PhD student (in the US), should I always discuss whether I should go to a conference or summer school with my advisor before I apply? Even if

  • The conference is providing full financial support, and
  • I am not currently employed as a research assistant (rather teaching assistant) and the conference wouldn't affect that.

I realise it is common courtesy to do so anyway, but is it still OK if I don't?

Please don't answer to tell me what the "rules" are, or with "why don't you want to tell your advisor about it". I'm rather looking for a practical answer.

  • 11
    is it still OK – by what criterion? — Please don't answer to tell me what the "rules" are, or with "why don't you want to tell your advisor about it". I'm rather looking for a practical answer. – Well, there must be a reason why you don’t want to consult with your supervisor (who usually is an obvious and free source of advice in this situation). This reason is crucial as to whether this is OK by a lot of criteria for OK. How do you expect us to give a practical answer without that information?
    – Wrzlprmft
    May 31, 2016 at 19:28
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    Complementing @Wrzlprmft's comment: why are you even considering not asking?
    – Davidmh
    May 31, 2016 at 19:46
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    You have an advisor. Part of their role is to give advice. Clarify to yourself why it was not natural to just ask them in one of your normal interactions with them - this may head off worse problems down the road. Your reluctance to not just bring it up would appear to be a symptom of a deeper problem.
    – Jon Custer
    May 31, 2016 at 22:14
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    You seem to be asking "I realize that it is more courteous not to do X, and I'm not interested in discussing why I want to do X and thus whether doing X is actually a good idea. Please just tell me whether I can do X, practically speaking." Okay: yes. May 31, 2016 at 22:18
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    From a purely practical standpoint: Yes, the laws of physics allow you to be a jerk to your advisor, but it's a bad idea.
    – JeffE
    Jun 1, 2016 at 11:32

1 Answer 1


Practically, no, you don't always have to contact or discuss your advisor. It is possible that your advisor will not end up even knowing. Now, this isn't advisable just because you and your advisor should really be fostering an open and collaborative environment and your advisor might take this as a sign against this. Additionally, if you are submitting work, many would say that it is your advisor's business because they should be able to know most things about your research and career in order to properly advise you.

  • I don't plan on keeping this away from my advisor -- just telling later if my paper gets accepted etc. My question is just about asking in time of application
    – user54953
    May 31, 2016 at 19:42
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    In this case, it would still be to your benefit to tell your advisor, because they are likely to have good advice and suggestions that will help you get in. May 31, 2016 at 19:44
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    Let's put it this way: keeping it from your advisor until your paper is accepted looks like you do not trust them or their judgement. Don't you? May 31, 2016 at 22:54

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