Medstart108

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I was accepted for a summer research position with a PI over the summer at an interview. Even though I was accepted, i still have a few questions i want to ask my PI before i confirm. However, i am worried that my PI will be offended, take back his offer or be disappointed if I ask him/think i'm asking for too much for someone with no experience.

During the interview, i was told that i would probably be doing data entry mostly for many different projects and that he didn't have any research projects for me currently. I will also be paid for this position. I left with the impression that I wouldn't be doing much in the way of research. I wouldn't mind starting off with data entry but i really hope to get involved with one project more deeply.

I want to send him an email asking about my roles and responsibilities, but also if there is any possibility of a publication. Is this a wise move to make? I have had no previous research experience and I do want this job, but I have heard that people who don't ask about publications before hand don't get them even after they put in a lot of work. I am always interested in publications but i don't expect one, certainly not if i don't put in any work.

I want to find out more about this job before i accept. I like that it is paid, but I am afraid i will be a very low level data monkey being paid to enter data the whole summer. I do have other possibilities that are unpaid where I was given a research project to work on. I really just want to know more without offending my PI at the same time.

Is it safe to ask these questions (in their exact wording) over email:

"what will be my roles and responsibilities?"

and

"is there a possibility of a publication?"
 

sector9

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How long is the position for? Will you be able to continue research into the school year?

Personally, I wouldn't ask about publications yet. There are lots of professors who are very suspicious of the motivations of premeds
 
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Medstart108

Medstart108

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How long is the position for? Will you be able to continue research into the school year?

Personally, I wouldn't ask about publications yet. There are lots of professors who are very suspicious of the motivations of premeds
This is just for the summer. There's a possibility of me continuing the project the following summer but my school is far away from the research place i'm working at so i won't be able to continue the research during the school year.

So i guess i probably shouldn't ask for publications, should i still ask about the roles and responsibilities or should i just accept.

My other main "semi-offer" is a PI who is placing me with a research project run by one of his residents. The resident sent the research to me, but the job won't be paid. The PI hasn't out-right offered me a job yet, so its still in limbo. If the PI sent me the research project information, does that mean i've been offered the job? Could it mean he's assumed i already accepted?

Overall, i really value that the job is paid because I would really appreciate making money over the summer. Friends and family have told me its very rare to get paid during your 1st research job so I should take it.

However, i also do want to actually do some research/learn about research/work on a project. If i'm going to be doing data entry for random projects all summer I won't be getting the experience i want. Do you think if i work hard at data entry and ask that I will be allowed to work on a research project this summer?
 

sector9

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I think it is very unlikely that the project you've described will result in any publications.

In my opinion, you should really be thinking more about "How can I get a poster presentation at a national conference out of this?" Those should be easier to get. Getting a publication as an undergrad is a very hit-or-miss situation that takes years to pull off. Starting the summer with a publication on your to-do list is setting yourself up for disappointment IMO.

I would send an email to both the resident over the unpaid project and the PI over the paid project to clarify what your role would be in their research.
 

yehhhboiii

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How would you feel if you allowed someone with no experience in research to come work in your lab for pay and they asked you about research projects and publications without having done any work? Oh by the way, they would only be there for two months and there's no chance of any progress once school starts again. It would probably take the full two months for you to develop a research plan and learn how to do all the relevant techniques properly.
 
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Medstart108

Medstart108

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How would you feel if you allowed someone with no experience in research to come work in your lab for pay and they asked you about research projects and publications without having done any work? Oh by the way, they would only be there for two months and there's no chance of any progress once school starts again. It would probably take the full two months for you to develop a research plan and learn how to do all the relevant techniques properly.
3 months but yeah point taken.