The new academic year has arrived at my institution, and it's an odd one for me. I'm not involved in courses at all, I personally have no conferences coming up in the next semester, and The Project That Wouldn't Die has pretty much been killed, unless I can get an Igor to help me resurrect it (which might be worth it for the papers...) For the first time in my graduate career, I get what I've always wanted: time to work on my thesis project without other things to do. Now, I just have to figure out what to do with all that time.
Summer has been tumultuous. We finally submitted the manuscript, and got mostly positive reviews, but the reviews sent us experimental data from a small German society journal which disagreed with our results. That manuscript is accepted, but it's killed 2 papers I'd already written. I thought my abstract had been accepted to the MRS fall meeting as an invited talk, but it turned out my advisor forgot to mention it had been turned into his talk.
I'm just starting my 4th year, in a group that averages 6 years to completion. I've already outlined my thesis chapters, and started writing methodology and introductions as much as I can. My biggest worry is that in a year, my PI is going to completely change his vision for my thesis from what was in my proposal, and most of that will be wasted. He ideally wants the thesis to be fleshed out papers, but I want it to be a coherent and connected story. What makes a good paper isn't necessarily the same thing that will allow me to piece together all of the different aspects of my research.
Happily, my advisor is letting me do my own DFT for this project, instead of getting one of the DFT experts in the group to run it and give me results. I'm actually getting to do most of the major forms of atomistic simulation for this project, which is cool, though occasionally overwhelming.
But, in the spirit of new years, I'm setting myself some goals:
1) Complain less about my advisor. It doesn't change him and it rarely makes me feel better.
2) Get the next two papers onto his desk
3) Go over my thesis outline with my PI
4) Complete drafts of the first three thesis chapters I have planned by this time next year (subject to change according to the results of 3)
5) Write a really excellent letter of recommendation for Minion, who is staying with the research group ze was in this summer which is run by FamousRockstarProf and might actually get authorship on a paper before ze graduates.
6)Find somewhere else to submit my MRS abstract, so I can actually give the talk I wanted to give