Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Advisor Frustration

Not cross posting, because I'm just whinging. Feel free to ignore.

I'm in the process of writing up my thesis proposal, which has included a rather vast literature search, covering the experimental results for various common composite materials and the simulation results for such composites and their constituent materials. My advisor has finally agreed to my magical idea to integrate The Project That Won't Die (still) into my Alleged Thesis Topic. The PTWD is on material A, which happens to be a rather common composite material, so we're adding it in as a second reinforcement material to study, which means I can incorporate a lot of my existing results into earlier chapters. Huzzah. But.

In doing this whole literature search thing, it's becoming painfully apparent that the PTWD would be a much more logical thesis topic. Seriously, we've got data for four papers *so far*, and I've got ideas for several more. Neglecting his editing speed, it would not be unreasonable for me to be part way done writing my dissertation when my DoD fellowship runs out in 2013. However, it's painfully clear that he's relying on me to produce data to make the lab's productivity look better to grants that I'm not funded on. When I asked about just changing topics, the answer was no, because he says he can't find funding to support the PTWD (which I believe).

So back to working on the early stages of my Alleged Thesis Topic.



  1. I am sorry you are so frustrated...
    On the upside, almost no one will read your thesis. But everyone will read the papers. So remain relentless in writing them up quickly, as you have been doing, and being proactive with your prof about getting them out.

    It's not uncommon that you are funded on one thing and do lots of work on another topic. It's actually a signature that the prof finds you capable (some might consider it exploitative; I don't believe so in most cases). For instance, I have a new student who's very smart and wants to do A; I would love for him to do A except that A is hard to fund and I currently have no money for it, but just received a 5-year funding for B. So I will have him do B and we can do A on the side; if I get funding for B in the next year or two, he can switch. If not, it's B all the way for his thesis with as much on A on the side as we can muster. That's life in the crappy funding lane...

    But if you have a fellowship, you should in principle be able to do whatever you want...

  2. The fellowship is the main reason it bothers me: it seems like I should be able to be a little more flexible, but it's pretty clear that I'm working on both to make the grant associated with my Alleged Thesis Topic look more productive.

    Fortunately, the semester is starting up soon, which means my advisor is in his office a bit more, which makes it easier to bug him about things. I appreciate the feedback :)