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I am a Ph.D. student of computer science and just have started working on a research problem. Some fellow Ph.D. students have mentioned the term research visit. For a professor, these things make sense, but as a Ph.D. student I am not getting what it means. There are some precise questions related to this below:

  1. What does research visit mean?
  2. What is the significance of it in Ph.D.?
  3. What is the typical duration of a research visit?
  • I fear that the definition is going to depend a lot on your institution and PhD program, especially if other PhD students are telling you about it. – Fuhrmanator Nov 13 '17 at 20:28
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You can be referring to two things, a visit to another institution (usually to give an invited talk) or you could mean a visiting student/researcher role:

  1. Someone who visits a different institution for some prolonged period of time, usually to do research. You may even be able to register for classes.
  2. It gives you the opportunity to work onsite with a different research group. You can think of it like an internship. Working onsite has a lot of benefits over working with a group remotely, such as direct access to lab equipment, data, participants, and your collaborators.
  3. It can vary greatly, but I've seen it range from a summer to an entire year.

UC Berkeley has a page describing some benefits of visiting student researchers.

  • Thanks for the answer. Could you please expand (add more detail) to each of the points you have mentioned above. – user79914 Nov 5 '17 at 6:00
  • @new_born There you go. Also added a reference. – Austin Henley Nov 13 '17 at 17:02
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+50

To me, a research visit means just that: you go somewhere for some period of time to do research, usually because you want to work together with a specific person or group. It means the same for PhD students as it does for professors. As Austin Henley mentions in his answer, it is common that the visitor will also give a seminar or colloquium talk.

For a PhD students such a research visit can have a couple of benefits. First, it allows you to meet other people in your field and work with them, thus expanding your network. This is important later on, when you are trying to find a postdoc or faculty position. More importantly, it can be beneficial to your research. It can be a great opportunity to work closely with experts in your field, for example on parts of you thesis your advisor knows less about.

As for duration, there is a wide range. In my field, mathematics, I would say up to about one or two weeks is fairly typical, but longer visits are not uncommon. Of course, for long visits funding becomes an issue, and it is usually necessary to attract external funding. There are various programs to fund such visits, for example as part of an exchange program. Sometimes for a longer visit you can get an "official" position at the university as a visiting student. I think this is typically more of an administrative thing, so that you for example can make use of the library.

Finally, it could also mean having a "visiting researcher" or "visiting professor" position. This usually means a longer term position, for example 1-2 years. In my field such positions are either basically postdoc positions (i.e., non tenure-track positions), or for people that are on sabbatical that visit another university for an extended period of time. Typically such positions also include some teaching duties.

  • My answer is about visiting students, a prolonged position for students from other universities, not visiting professors. I added some more details and a reference. – Austin Henley Nov 13 '17 at 17:04

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