Friday, September 21
Adviser: Hey, I had a great idea! You could use Fancy New Method to address your thesis topic!
Dandelion: That would be fantastic if it worked, but given that it's New, it'll probably take months to set up and optimise. Can't I just try to get some results now that Slightly Older Also Cool Method is finally working after months of optimisation?
Adviser: Don't worry about SOACM, it would be so much cooler with FNM! And it'll hardly take any time to set up, I'm sure. Your results will be so much more exciting than the boring ones you're going to get this way.
Dandelion: It would be much more interesting. If you really think it'll work, it would be worth it. I'll try it.
Dandelion goes off to figure out how to use FNM and plan experiments.
Adviser: So, what's your plan for finishing up this project with SOACM? Can we publish this soon?
Dandelion: Um, what happened to FNM? I've been working on that.
Adviser: Oh, that's not going to work. It's too new and will take too long to optimise. You should try to get something published soon. Besides, you don't want to waste all the effort you've put into SOACM.
Dandelion: Argh!
A couple months pass. Repeat from the beginning.


If only her enthusiasm weren't so infectious and convincing... At least I've learned not to stop working on SOACM, while investigating the FNM of the day.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ughhh... I can completely relate to this. But it sounds like you've got a good plan of action for dealing with it (i.e. listening to what she's saying, but not getting *too* invested/caught up).

Sometimes I wonder what's happening in certain advisors' heads. Do they really not remember what they told you one month (sometimes one week) ago? I mean, I understand that we may not be their priority, but still...

Anyway, you're not alone! :)

Anonymous said...

P.S. Your post is hilarious.

Chartreuse Circe said...

Dandelion, I've got to say that you've got it figured out! Congratulations!

It took me years to figure out that balance (investigating the FNM and running the SOACM for production). Probably the worst part of learning that was the realization that my advisor wasn't thinking -- it was pretty much "oooo sparkly!" Sadly, advisors are often clueless (I got myself going "spaaarkly!" just yesterday!), and given their power that's an issue.

Strawberries said...

oh dear, hang in there dandelion! sounds like you figured out what to do though!

Anastasia said...

oh my do I ever relate to this.

Ms.PhD said...

A tale that belongs in Aesop's. Destined to be repeated for the ages.

I have already vowed to do as my advisor did to me, and tell my future students up front that it's part of their job to guess when they're supposed to ignore me.

Anonymous said...

I TOTALLY relate to what you are going through, dandelion! I am a post-doc and going through it all over again with a new mentor. It took me several months to realize her particular weaknesses and to understand when exactly to ignore her advice (while pretending to listen) and just keep doing exactly what I was doing before. In some cases, the student is more competent than the advisor, but must play along. Argh.

yellowfish said...

Ha, this is hilarious. I will say, though, you have skipped the part where the advisor stubbornly continues, in the face of all evidence, to wildly underestimate the time and effort involved in any piece of this...

Julep said...

Hilarious. I guess it's not just my advisor who's like this!

Successful Researcher: How to Become One said...

:)

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