First of all, I am sorry if this sounds like a simplistic question. But I am a first-year PhD student and this is really troubling me.
As per the requirements of my department, all first-year PhD students have to complete a research project by the end of their first year. When my advisor pushed me to pick a topic to work on in fall, I have half-heartedly committed to an area that I had previously worked on in my undergraduate institution and therefore was no longer super-excited about. But it felt like a safe haven, and I didn't want to undertake a very ambitious project right in my first year.
But the research project I developed has failed to provide results, sadly. The experiments I conducted did not yield any interpretable results and I don't know at this point whether it was because of a design flaw or whether the hypotheses that we were testing need revision. But at any rate, my gut feeling is that the experiments are not salvageable and that it would be much better for me if I switched to a different project for the upcoming years. (Thankfully, my department doesn't seem to mind lack of clear results for the first-year project - what they care about in the case of newbies is that they completed a project, with or without publishable results.)
But I feel very uncomfortable about this and don't know how to broach the subject. My advisor wants me to continue working on the same topic in summer as well, and I don't want to give her the impression that I am a "quitter" - but at the same time I know that it is pure folly to pursue a certain research project that is hopeless. I've lost a year already, and if I stick with the same project because of my advisor, I'm afraid I might lose another year which would cost me dearly.
How can I tell my advisor that I would rather start working on a different topic?