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RE the funding issue:

(I'm presuming by "support" you mean paid lab work)

In regards to feeling bad about the funding. This is something that drives me a bit crazy about academia. In my lab I'm paid 19K for 9 months of work to work on all of my advisor's projects first. That's fine. But can we all be honest about the system and just be real about what PIs get out of having RAs work on their projects? Cheap and highly qualified labor to move the grant along. In the event where the student wants to go into academia we can argue about the merits of all the experience this low-paying work adds to the CV in terms of conferences and paper submissions; but in the end we are cheap labor.

I've also seen other labs where the PI financially supports a student in the student's own research. In quite a few instances the PI has not been that involved in the student's project(s) outside of the financial support, but attaches theirhis/her name to everything the student does. This arrangement seems common if the primary data is the PI's, or if as part of of PI's support the student collects new data. However, I've also seen the students in this kind of arrangement use publicly available data for projects. This is all fine too. In many ways this is similar to working at a high-level in R&D in industry. Your name might go on a patent, but the company owns all intellectual rights. In the case of academia, where publications are everything, the PI benefits from this arrangement very wellgreatly.

If your situation is similar to one of the previous two examples then you don't owe it to anyone to tell them before you've got your Master's and a job offer in hand. The PI will still benefit from your work. Would they benefit more knowing a student was committed to project over the course of the next several years? Sure, but the PI still makes out pretty good. Now, you say you've been pretty bummed by your situation too. If you are being paid and just at home watching Netflix all day then that's a big problem.

Now in a third situation the advisor is paying you to work on what you want to pursue, totally orthogonal to their projects, and giving you full credit of everything (i.e., not attaching their name to everything you do as a point of lab policy). If this is the case then yes... let your advisor know now and let him/her do something different with his/her funding.

I do believe your hunch is correct: Leave without a terminal Master's and you've wasted 2-3 years of your life for nothing. You've added no income potential to your future without that degree on your resume, and (depending on your field) if you're going into industry you'll likely find that selling working in an academic lab for the last 2-3 years might beof work in an academic lab is a bit more difficult than you think, so best to get yourself in the best position possible for your next phase.

RE the funding issue:

(I'm presuming by "support" you mean paid lab work)

In regards to feeling bad about the funding. This is something that drives me a bit crazy about academia. In my lab I'm paid 19K for 9 months of work to work on all of my advisor's projects first. That's fine. But can we all be honest about the system and just be real about what PIs get out of having RAs work on their projects? Cheap and highly qualified labor to move the grant along. In the event where the student wants to go into academia we can argue about the merits of all the experience this low-paying work adds to the CV in terms of conferences and paper submissions; but in the end we are cheap labor.

I've also seen other labs where the PI financially supports a student in the student's own research. In quite a few instances the PI has not been that involved in the student's project(s) outside of the financial support, but attaches their name to everything the student does. This arrangement seems common if the primary data is the PI's, or if as part of of PI's support the student collects new data. However, I've also seen the students in this kind of arrangement use publicly available data for projects. This is all fine too. In many ways this is similar to working at a high-level in R&D in industry. Your name might go on a patent, but the company owns all intellectual rights. In the case of academia, where publications are everything, the PI benefits from this arrangement very well.

If your situation is similar to one of the previous two examples then you don't owe it to anyone to tell them before you've got your Master's and a job offer in hand. The PI will still benefit from your work. Would they benefit more knowing a student was committed to project over the course of the next several years? Sure, but the PI still makes out pretty good. Now, you say you've been pretty bummed by your situation too. If you are being paid and just at home watching Netflix all day then that's a big problem.

Now in a third situation the advisor is paying you to work on what you want to pursue, totally orthogonal to their projects, and giving you full credit of everything (i.e., not attaching their name to everything you do as a point of lab policy). If this is the case then yes... let your advisor know now and let him/her do something different with his/her funding.

I do believe your hunch is correct: Leave without a terminal Master's and you've wasted 2-3 years of your life for nothing. You've added no income potential to your future without that degree on your resume, and (depending on your field) if you're going into industry you'll likely find that selling working in an academic lab for the last 2-3 years might be a bit more difficult than you think, so best to get yourself in the best position possible for your next phase.

RE the funding issue:

(I'm presuming by "support" you mean paid lab work)

In regards to feeling bad about the funding. This is something that drives me a bit crazy about academia. In my lab I'm paid 19K for 9 months of work to work on all of my advisor's projects first. That's fine. But can we all be honest about the system and just be real about what PIs get out of having RAs work on their projects? Cheap and highly qualified labor to move the grant along. In the event where the student wants to go into academia we can argue about the merits of all the experience this low-paying work adds to the CV in terms of conferences and paper submissions; but in the end we are cheap labor.

I've also seen other labs where the PI financially supports a student in the student's own research. In quite a few instances the PI has not been that involved in the student's project(s) outside of the financial support, but attaches his/her name to everything the student does. This arrangement seems common if the primary data is the PI's, or if as part of of PI's support the student collects new data. However, I've also seen the students in this kind of arrangement use publicly available data for projects. This is all fine too. In many ways this is similar to working at a high-level in R&D in industry. Your name might go on a patent, but the company owns all intellectual rights. In the case of academia, where publications are everything, the PI benefits from this arrangement greatly.

If your situation is similar to one of the previous two examples then you don't owe it to anyone to tell them before you've got your Master's and a job offer in hand. The PI will still benefit from your work. Would they benefit more knowing a student was committed to project over the course of the next several years? Sure, but the PI still makes out pretty good. Now, you say you've been pretty bummed by your situation too. If you are being paid and just at home watching Netflix all day then that's a big problem.

Now in a third situation the advisor is paying you to work on what you want to pursue, totally orthogonal to their projects, and giving you full credit of everything (i.e., not attaching their name to everything you do as a point of lab policy). If this is the case then yes... let your advisor know now and let him/her do something different with his/her funding.

I do believe your hunch is correct: Leave without a terminal Master's and you've wasted 2-3 years of your life for nothing. You've added no income potential to your future without that degree on your resume, and (depending on your field) if you're going into industry you'll likely find that selling 2-3 years of work in an academic lab is a bit more difficult than you think, so best to get yourself in the best position possible for your next phase.

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source | link

RE the funding issue:

(I'm presuming by "support" you mean paid lab work)

In regards to feeling bad about the funding. This is something that drives me a bit crazy about academia. In my lab I'm paid 19K for 9 months of work to work on all of my advisor's projects first. That's fine. But can we all be honest about the system and just be real about what PIs get out of having RAs work on their projects? Cheap and highly qualified labor to move the grant along. In the event where the student wants to go into academia we can argue about the merits of all the experience this low-paying work adds to the CV in terms of conferences and paper submissions; but in the end we are cheap labor.

I've also seen other labs where the PI financially supports a student in the student's own research. In quite a few instances the PI has not been that involved in the student's project(s) outside of the financial support, but attaches their name to everything the student does. This arrangement seems common if the primary data is the PI's, or if as part of of PI's support the student collects new data. However, I've also seen the students in this kind of arrangement use publicly available data for projects. This is all fine too. In many ways this is similar to working at a high-level in R&D in industry. Your name might go on a patent, but the company owns all intellectual rights. In the case of academia, where publications are everything, the PI benefits from this arrangement very well.

If your situation is similar to one of the previous two examples then you don't owe it to anyone to tell them before you've got your Master's and a job offer in hand. The PI will still benefit from your work. Would they benefit more knowing a student was committed to project over the course of the next several years? Sure, but the PI still makes out pretty good. Now, you say you've been pretty bummed by your situation too. If you are being paid and just at home watching Netflix all day then that's a big problem.

Now in a third situation the advisor is paying you to work on what you want to pursue, totally orthogonal to their projects, and giving you full credit of everything (i.e., not attaching their name to everything you do as a point of lab policy). If this is the case then yes... let your advisor know now and let him/her do something different with his/her funding.

I do believe your hunch is correct: Leave without a terminal Master's and you've wasted 2-3 years of your life for nothing. You've added no income potential to your future without that degree on your resume, and (depending on your field) if you're going into industry you'll likely find that selling working in an academic lab for the last 2-3 years might be a bit more difficult than you think, so best to get yourself in the best position possible for your next phase.