Working on Projects Without Your Advisor

While many labs require that all projects involve the advisors at some level, we are supportive of advisor-free projects. These projects can give you a chance to establish your independence and learn to collaborate in a non-student-advisor scenario. Many weecologists do at least one project that doesn’t involve their advisor.

There are a few limitations to be aware of when doing one of these projects:

  1. These should be projects where you don’t need a lot of mentoring and research guidance from your advisor. This doesn’t mean that we won’t talk to you about it, but needing regular guidance on either the scientific or collaborative aspects of a project is a sign that you should reconsider whether or not your advisor should be formally involved.
  2. Staff time and lab resources are paid for by grants. By law, there are restrictions on how grant funded time and resources can be used, and your advisor is legally responsible for certifying that these requirements are met. There are also lots of core projects that require staff time and resources and the need for these has to be balanced even in the absence of grant restrictions. On projects your advisor is involved in it is easy for them to keep track what is being done and make sure that it meets both grant requirements and needs of the lab, but this is harder for projects that they are not involved in. Therefore, before using lab resources (e.g., the HiPerGator), or asking staff to spend time on a project, it is important for you to check with your advisor first to make sure that the project is within scope for existing grants and that demands on staff time are appropriately balanced.
  3. One of the things that your advisor does is keep track of related projects in the group and manage any overlap that occurs. In projects not involving them it is your responsibility to be aware of other related projects in the lab and manage potential overlap with your labmates.