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Awkward meeting with PI - advice?

Discussion in 'Student Research and Publishing' started by OGplanner, Feb 28, 2018.

  1. OGplanner


    Feb 28, 2018
    So basically, I've been in this lab since winter of freshmen year, and was paid $1k to do research work over the summer while also taking summer classes (commuting for 1.5+ hours each way from home every day). I was also given my own project (which is WAY too much work for one person, I was only trained on it because no one else in the lab was willing to give up their winter break for it (~8 hours a day for the entire winter break, same commuting situation + no compensation). Now I'm in my soph year and I asked my PI for a letter of rec for a summer research program that would provide $3k and housing, to which he said "i mean I'll write it but it would be good if you stayed here for this summer" I'm feeling super awkward and anxious after the meeting and I feel obligated to stay in this lab, where I've already been in for over a year and it doesn't seem like a paper will get written anytime soon. Does anyone have any advice for moving forward in this situation? I honestly haven't been enjoying the research recently and have been contemplating quitting the lab because I feel like I'm burning out with that + my BME major + pre-med stress.
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  3. MamaPhD

    MamaPhD Psychologist, Academic Medical Center Psychologist 7+ Year Member

    Aug 2, 2010
    Is the problem that you don't feel able to complete the project you've been given all on your own? How often have you sought help or checked in about your progress? Where is the burnout coming from, exactly?

    You could leave, but 1 year in a lab with little to show for it won't earn you much of a recommendation.
  4. maddaddam

    maddaddam O-T-R? I don't even know 'er!

    Mar 12, 2018
    Who else can write you a letter? I've been in roles that were overwhelming and, while I will put the experience on my resume and whatnot, I just don't ask for letters from those supervisors. I'm a little concerned that your supervisor didn't acknowledge what a major opportunity this is for you.

    You can try to negotiate staying if you want, but it sounds like you feel done. Maybe it's best to offer to train your replacement for the summer ASAP and leave for other opportunities on a friendly note.
  5. FistLength

    FistLength 5+ Year Member

    Apr 11, 2012
    As someone who has done research and published in medical school, if this guy wants slave labor without publishing, he can take a hike. No publish = no work. Move on to greener pastures where you will be able to publish.
    aspiringmd96 and maddaddam like this.
  6. OGplanner


    Feb 28, 2018
    Thanks for all the support everyone, I really appreciate it. Yeah, I think that leaving will leave me happier and just mentally in a better state of mind.
    maddaddam likes this.
  7. dienekes88

    dienekes88 10+ Year Member

    Jan 21, 2008
    You shouldn't feel obligated to do anything. A good mentor wants you to succeed not just for his own lab to be productive. This is something that I've had to find out the hard way.

    If you work hard, you expect to be compensated in the form of publications. Unfortunately, to many people, you're just cheap labor.

    What's the probability of your project becoming a manuscript? What's the likelihood of you being first or second author?
    maddaddam likes this.
  8. OGplanner


    Feb 28, 2018
    Honestly, everything in this lab feels like it gets done at a very slow pace. All while managing my cell culture project, I am continuing to help the grad student with his rat-surgery project (that 5 other people are helping with too) which has still not been written up/gotten to the point of publishing for the past year and a half (when I joined, they were all saying we were almost finished with the project lol but its getting sidetracked multiple times and the grad student is not so motivated to finish) For my own project, I imagine it will definitely get to the point of publishing, but probably not for another year. And I don't think I want to put all this time and effort into something with no yield (not to mention, I'm starting to dislike the people/environment of the lab). The only thing holding me back from leaving is that I will possibly/probably lose a letter of rec for med school from a professor that knows me better than most. (applying in the summer of 2019, not this year) Maybe I should find a different lab/ will this experience be sufficient? (and will the lack of rec be a red flag?)

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