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I am trying to pull together my first progress report on my F31 fellowship. My concern is due to to COVID19 my ability to work with certain collaborators was diminished and my PI thought it was best to go in another direction. Since I really have no say in the matter, my objectives changed. As a result my aims and objectives have changed drastically. My PI does not want to say my objectives have changed; but they most certainly have.

How do I handle this? Ideally I would have one more report before I can make a run for it. I could hand wave this one and come clean on the 2nd report, but by then I would be almost ready to go so if they stopped it the financial pain would be minimized.

Is this a stain on one's career? Does this really matter at the F level?

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No, it's not a stain, no it doesn't matter. Not at the "F" level, not at the "R" level. All that's really important is the overall output of the project: whether you able to eventually publish papers using the funding given to you by the end of the project.

You have to complete the progress report (I believe if you do not your funding will be suspended; probably you can get the funds released if you complete it late but I don't know the details of that situation), and I would not suggest reporting that any funds have been used illegally or that you participated in research misconduct. Otherwise...it really doesn't matter for either your reputation or for you continuing to get the funds. There's a statutory requirement to submit these, and I'd suggest being truthful, but they're not going through a peer review process or anything. It's normal for projects to change, and a global pandemic is probably one of the most unassailable reasons for this.

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