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Programs Self Funding My Ph.D To Do Risky Dissertations

  1. Oct 29, 2017 #1
    I'm a 2nd year Ph.D student and I have a pretty good idea what my topic for my dissertation is going to be. It is a very ambitious topic and doesn't fit the mold of small esoteric problems AKA " little problem that nobody ever heard of " in theoretical physics that are the topics of many dissertations. When I entered the program I was given a full stipend and scholarship. I have one more semester on a TA stipend and after that I will be on RA stipend. I'm worried that no one at my university will be willing to fund me so I can do my very ambitious project, luckily though I also have a job in finance which doesn't take much hours a week and will allow me to comfortably self fund. From your experience do you think my ability to self fund will allow me to work on my none commutative idea even if it doesn't exactly fit the mold of what is being done in the HEP section of my physics department.

    Thanks
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 29, 2017 #2

    phinds

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    If you get an advisor to approve the thesis subject, I don't see what funding has to do with it.
     
  4. Oct 29, 2017 #3
    Doesn't that funding come directly from my adviser though? Because my topic is risky for a thesis wouldn't they not want to use there own money but be more willing if initially I self fund?
     
  5. Oct 29, 2017 #4

    phinds

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    If your advisor approves the subject, you have in essence just given him/her extra grant money by self funding. Who could object to that?
     
  6. Oct 29, 2017 #5
    Good point can't argue with that.
     
  7. Oct 29, 2017 #6

    jedishrfu

    Staff: Mentor

    One thing I see here is that they may approve but may not be able to properly evaluate your work and consequently might reject or redirect you to something they can properly evaluate. Remember your thesis advisor must ultimately sign off on it and he/she will be unwilling to do so if it’s controversial.
     
  8. Oct 29, 2017 #7
    It isn't controversial, but just something that isn't itself represented at my university. It is a reformulation of QFT and there are plenty of people in my department who are experts in QFT.
     
  9. Oct 29, 2017 #8

    jedishrfu

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    I know some profs lik to have control of their students via the meager funding they give them. I know I had issues at one university where I was taking one course at a time and they were pushing me to take the qualifying exam for PhD. I knew I couldn’t succeed since I’d been away from studies for ten years having only two courses and they weren’t happy. My company paid for my courses provided I’d get a B or better.
     
  10. Oct 29, 2017 #8

    Dr Transport

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    If you self fund your dissertation, anything you do is your intellectual property. I had funding for the first 2 years of my dissertation work then the agency dropped funding. I was too heavily invested, so I took a teaching assistant's position and worked part time in industry to finish. All was good until I wrote it up and the funding agency tried to take possession of my dissertation. My advisor stepped in and told them they got the part they paid for in the final report and they were getting nothing else. At that point I had three publications ready to go and we decided not to submit them because the previous funding agency was laying claim to my work and complained to my department and the weasel that was the chairman. I listed them in the acknowledgements for partially funding that work and left it at that. To this day, not a word has been published and that is fine.

    Long and the short of it, if someone is willing to oversee it and sign off on it at the end, as a faculty member, I'd be overjoyed to get a student I didn't have to pay.
     
  11. Oct 29, 2017 #9
    I would never allow that. If I'm not given a good amount of control over what I do my dissertation I'll gladly get a new adviser. There is also no way I'm going to TA after my 2nd year so I would not want an adviser that makes there student TA for them. Luckily I passed my qualifying exam already, all I need to do is fine a arrangement that suits someone as independent as me.
     
  12. Oct 29, 2017 #10
    Thank you very much for sharing this I'll keep it in mind. To me the idea of someone else owning my intellectual property that I worked on formulating is abhorrent. This is why I'm may strongly consider self funding even if funding is available for what I want to do. Were you doing work in experimental or theoretical physics?
     
  13. Oct 29, 2017 #11

    phinds

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    Best you not get a job in industry, then.
     
  14. Oct 29, 2017 #12

    Dr Transport

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    Theoretical Semiconductor Physics
     
  15. Oct 29, 2017 #13
    My long term goals are to become a University President.
     
  16. Oct 29, 2017 #14

    Dr Transport

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    True, but I have avoided that by never doing any work at work that is inline with my outside intellectual pursuits. That includes not using their online journal subscriptions.
     
  17. Oct 29, 2017 #15
    I can see that, a lot of applications for semiconductors and a lot of money to be made if if a breakthrough occurs. That would explain why the agency was to hawkish.
     
  18. Oct 29, 2017 #16

    jtbell

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    Have you talked to any of them about it yet, to find out if they might be willing to take you on?
     
  19. Oct 29, 2017 #17

    Dale

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    Or a university. Usually the university owns their faculty's patents.

    In any case, a reformulation of QFT is not patentable.
     
  20. Oct 29, 2017 #18
    If ownership of IP is important to you, you should get some written agreement in advance if possible (the university could decide not to issue anything in writing). Even if you are self-funded, there can arise an issue over your use of university resources. For a theoretical thesis, you will not be using lab equipment, but university resources can be broadly construed to include, for example, library and computer resources (plus your advisor and committee will be spending their time reviewing your work).
     
  21. Oct 29, 2017 #19

    Vanadium 50

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    First, it is not necessarily true that if you are self-funded that the university has no claim on IP. You need to look at what you signed. The university is providing space and services, including academic credit, and may well have had you sign a document when you enrolled outlining what their rights and responsibilities are, and what yours are. That said, Dale's right - a reformulation of QFT is not patentable.

    Second, professors are under no obligation to take on a particular student. It's a huge investment in time. There's an awful lot of "It's my way or the highway" in this thread, and if someone wanted to be my student and opened with "Here's how it's gonna be, buster..." I would decline to take them on. I suspect I am not alone on this.
     
  22. Oct 29, 2017 #20

    Dr Transport

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    I would agree, college professors tend to take the results of their students and pass them along to the next generation. I did take out an international copyright on my work and my advisor left the university soon after, and I don't know of anyone who would follow in my footsteps.

    Also, I agree that the take it or leave it attitude by the OP usually will not get them anywhere with an established academic. I have heard of cases where students push their advisor then end up losing in the end when the dissertation isn't accepted.
     
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