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My PI keeps changing my thesis project... - Complaining about my flaky PI - how will I ever get out of here? (Jul/22/2011 )

Hello fellow collegues -

I am a second year graduate student, and I just passed my comps. (Yay!)

Now it's time to buckle down and get some good data. During my first year in this lab I worked on a really interesting project studying an RNA binding protein that is involved in carcinogenesis. About a week before my first committee meeting, my PI decided that I needed to switch projects because the RNA-binding protein project was encroaching on the intellectual property of one of the scientists here. I was fine with that - I got a 2nd author paper and will have 1 first author paper from that project.
So now my new project is studying chemoresistance in ovarian cancer. I just re-wrote all of my specific aims and had a meeting with my PI, and she decided to change my project yet again. So now it has bits and peices of other projects, and is not one coherent story.

This is getting extremely frustrating and I'm worrying that I will get into trouble if I don't have a coherent topic for my dissertation...

Does anyone have experience with this? Do other people have a disseration that is comprised of multiple projects that have little to do with each other, or are dissertations most commonly one topic?
If anyone has any suggestions or advice please respond!

Thanks a lot -



Hi RNAgirl,

I do have similar experience with you but I really don't know how to advice you: I'm still stuck there.
My done work was not really linked with each other, and I was instigated to do most of the other work which is so called my "side-project": nothing really much to do with my given project title. For my project, I had reach to a bottleneck point where we are only have to rely on sophisticated instruments where we got no experience in handling, with a methodology we can't even confirm whether it works. My PI had even disagreed for me to change title or approaches. For my so-called "side project" if I have to pick up a few and write a thesis, I had graduated my masters 1 year ago.

I can't really advice much for you here, I just wish you best of luck and graduate as soon as possible. :lol:

-Adrian K-

Well, I know of a few fragmented thesis/dissertations that are composed of multiple topics. The major project failed, and the advisor chose to help the student salvage as much of their experience as possible by writing up their side projects. Failure of the major project happens; at least these students weren't released from their programs like some (I have known this to happen).

My advice is to sit down with the PI and draft a plan to pitch your thesis to the committee. If you are an innocent bystander caught in office-politics crossfire (i.e., the IP issue), they will probably find a way to help you complete your program in an acceptable way. It sounds like your PI might be giving you some options to occupy your mind while she tries to find a solid project for you.

-lab rat-