Seeker of Knowledge Posted May 18, 2019 Share Posted May 18, 2019 I guess the title is more or less self-explanatory. How do you tell your advisor that you don't like the research project that you're working on and that you'd like to move onto a different topic? I am a first-year PhD student in psychology and students are expected to start working on a research project in their first year in my program, in addition to doing coursework. During my initial meetings with my advisor in the fall semester, we were generally brainstorming and going over ideas for my project, but she dismissed many ideas I proposed, giving various reasons for why she thought they wouldn't be fruitful. Her intuitions are likely to be right, I think. But I felt insecure because of this, and having run out of novel ideas, I proposed working on a topic that was very similar to what I had worked on as an undergrad (it was familiar territory, after all) - and my advisor approved of this. So the work I am doing right now is an extension of what I did before. I am not very satisfied with this, but my dissatisfaction with the topic is not the only problem. First of all, the project is not working. My pilot experiments have failed to provide any interpretable results. Secondly, I was hoping to learn some new experimental techniques during my first few years in this PhD program (eye-tracking and/or brain-imaging) and I thought devising an experiment that uses these techniques would be helpful. But as things stand, I am stuck with a simple behavioral paradigm. I know you might tell me that I am being unfair and making a fuss unnecessarily, and that there is no "ranking" among experimental methods, that a behavioral paradigm may be just as valuable. But the neoliberal world of academia does not work that way, and I fear that I won't be a competitive candidate in the job market unless I diversify my skills during my PhD. For these reasons, I'd like to switch to a more fertile research topic that is interesting for me, marketable for academia, and allows me to learn new skills. But as I said, I have wasted my first year on a hopeless project. Worse yet, we are expected to continue working on our projects during the summer term and we will have undergraduate research assistants to work with us. I believe we have already been matched with our assistants, though I haven't met mine yet. This means I am going to be stuck with the same project for at least another 3 months. But I certainly don't want to continue working on this next year. How can I tactfully tell my advisor that I'd rather pursue a different topic? Have you ever faced a similar problem, and how did you handle it? Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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