Did you choose your own research?

A few years ago, as my friends and I were wrapping up our Master’s projects, one of us started making plans to further his studies in the U.K. And as part of our government’s fellowship program, potential fellows were allowed to select a graduate school in an internationally-recognized institution.

So my friend — let’s call him David — researched and shortlisted a few universities in the U.K. He even contacted a few potential Supervisors and they had come to an agreement about the research project that David would be conducting as part of his Ph.D. research.

But right before the fellowship interview, David was informed that the quota for students going to the U.K. had been filled, and if we was still keen about the fellowship, he would have to go to a university in Australia.

(David was subsequently successful in his fellowship application, and had taken up the offer to do his Ph.D. in Australia, albeit in a project that he was not familiar with.)

While I sympathize with David for having to to go a university not of his choice, I salute him for taking up a project he wasn’t familiar with, which warrants a pretty steep learning curve.

So my question is, did you choose your current research project, or did you do it as part of your Supervisor’s bigger research project? Or did you take up this project because your Supervisor had some funding for it?