Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

TA-ship into RA-ship - ettiquette of asking?

  1. Feb 20, 2010 #1
    Hi all, I'm a TA at my physics department, and I've seen two of my classmates be freed of their TA-duties to be RA instead. They are experimental particle physics people. Experimental particle physics is big at our school. I am theoretical particle physics. Theoretical particle physics is not big at our school: only my research-advisor is into it.

    Speaking of my research advisor: the stuff I'm supposed to know to do research for him is totally beyond me.

    In that light: is it improper ettiquette to ask my research-advisor if he can devote funds to me so that I can be an RA instead of a TA? What's the proper way to go about these things?

  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 21, 2010 #2

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor
    2017 Award

    I wouldn't ask.

    You've already caught on to the fact that RA-ships cost your advisor money. He either doesn't have it, or doesn't want to spend it on you yet - your second paragraph may provide some explanation.
  4. Feb 21, 2010 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    I don't see how there's any harm in asking. The next time you meet with him, just tell him that you're curious if switching from a TA to an RA is an option for you. Different departments have different rules and defaults about who will do what and when. Then at least you'll know where you stand.

    As for the second point, this is something that needs to be addressed - and the sooner the better. You don't want that to come to light for the first time in your candidacy examination or your defence. You need to figure out if there is an extra course that you need to take (even at the senior undergrad level if necessary), or if you're doing enough background reading, and if your background reading is appropriate for your topic.
  5. Feb 21, 2010 #4
    I don't know if I actually know of a theoretical physics grad student in my university's physics department that is supported by an RA.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook