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I am a fresh PHD student. And I need to choose a advisor to guide my research. but currently I find it difficult to choose. one professor's current project pretty matches my previous research experience. Although I would not say I am interested in it, at least I don't hate it. But I find most of his students will need 7 years to graduate(get the phd degree). and speed of this professor's life is really slow. and the most important thing is that he rarely gives his students some constructive suggestions when they confront some problems in the research. and i know a PHD needs to have the ability to conduct experiment independently, but some kind of guide is necessary. As for the other professor, his project is really excited and he published many papers with high impact factors. it is not that much related to my previous experience but it may use some of the techniques I used before. I like it. but some of my friends told me this professor is really picky and tough. And in his direction, it may be difficult to get job after graduation . And currently I am working with the first professor, I try my best to make myself get interested in it. but I am still hesitated. My question is what I should do to make myself settled down.

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some of my friends told me this professor is really picky and tough — That one. You want that one. –  JeffE Dec 14 '13 at 14:22

2 Answers 2

Ultimately, I would choose to work on what I'm interested in rather than what I have experience in, assuming that you have enough background to follow your interests (but in a 7 year PhD program, you'll have time to learn the techniques you'll need) and that there is a future for you after completing the program.

(Learning how to use capital letters and to punctuate your sentences properly will also help in the future.)

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+1 for the side blow on capital letters. –  Dirk Dec 14 '13 at 20:26

Always, always, always pick the advisor who is less of a jerk. Doing so serves numerous purposes:

  1. The project will be more enjoyable, because you're not working with a jerk.
  2. If the initial project doesn't work out it will be easier to switch to a new topic, because you're not working with a jerk.
  3. Even if the whole program doesn't work out, it will be easier to get support for switching labs/schools/careers, because you're not working with a jerk.
  4. It means fewer talented students will pick jerks as advisors, which will (hopefully) help weed out jerk advisors.

In short: talk to the students. Make sure you're not signing up to work with a jerk.

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Note, however: "Jerk" does not mean "tough". You want your advisor to have high standards and to hold you to them. –  JeffE Dec 14 '13 at 14:30
Yes, agreed. Tough: good. Jerk: bad. @user9983: seems like you have a pretty good handle on the "tough" question. Now go find out about the "jerk" question! –  Dnuorg Spu Dec 14 '13 at 14:31

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