I've been working on an independent project for nearly a year now with many negative results. I am taking a break for medical leave soon and my PI has basically offered me two options for when I return: 1) Continue working on an independent project, perhaps scrapping the current one, and hope to publish 1st author in 1.5 - 2 years. 2) Finish up existing papers for PI and get 2nd, 3rd, etc authorships. I'm a rising senior with 2+ years of basic science research and a 3rd authorship from a different lab. I hope to conduct research, whatever kind it may be, in the future. Not sure how much this matters to schools with a research emphasis. Thoughts?