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How long is too long to be working on a project?


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I am a first-year psychology PhD student studying learning in rats. I have been working on variants of the same experiment since coming to work in my advisor's lab in August 2014. It is now March 2015. I started this project as a way of familiarizing myself with how the lab functions, and I have certainly learned a lot in that domain. But I keep getting meaningless results, and each time the results come out ambiguous, my advisor tells me to make an adjustment in the procedure. The research no longer interests me, and the only thing motivating me is the prospect of a publication. Yet, even that seems far off. I want to move on to work on more interesting questions, but how much longer should I stick with this project? And how should I go about broaching the subject with my advisor? This project seems like it will never end. Each time I get a weird result, my advisor always finds a way of coming up with alternative explanations. I feel like it will never end.

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I donno if you are allowed to, but maybe ask if you can still research about rats but with a different research question?

Also, perhaps ask the advisor WHY he/she thinks there are alternative explanations for the weird results.....I think that if your current research question is not doable, he/she would just tell you to stop?

Edited by icedcoffee
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I had an 8 month project that yielded nothing and I simply called for a meeting with my advisor and presented my case for why the project direction needed to be dropped for a different approach. I then presented an alternative and defended the new approach and he gave me the green light. 6 months later, I got a paper using my approach. If what you are doing seems like waste of time in your mind/heart, you need to convince your advisor to change gears.

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