It is about my friend (an undergraduate student in Australia), but I used first person pronoun "I" for convenience. My friend needs advice, and I tried my best to describe the situation. The second-person pronoun "you" can be used in the answer.
After taking an undergraduate course taught by professor A, he offered me an opportunity to do research with him. At that time, I wanted to pursue a Master by Research degree (MPhil) after graduation, so I accepted the offer as having some research experience would be helpful for my graduate admission. However, it was an unpaid job. I was living in Melbourne, and the living cost was really high here. I had to work part-time to cover the living cost. As the result, I did not spend enough time on doing research. I decided to quit.
Later, professor A managed to find a source of funding for the research project, and he offered me a new opportunity to work with him. He really wanted me to do MPhil and PhD at the same university after graduation. It was a paid RA job. I decided to quit the part-time job, and focused on doing research. We have not achieved any significant result since then.
Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the university faced financial challenges. They decided to cut funding for research students. It has become extremely difficult for potential MPhil students to get the research scholarship (tuition fee waiver + stipend) unless students have a publication(s) prior to applying. His field of research is also not a priority of the university.
As the result, he has worked so hard to get me opportunities to participate in research projects from other research groups at the university. He always suggests me new topics and upcoming conferences, telling me that I should try to publish something there. There was one occasion when he told me to submit a manuscript to a conference when there were literally only 3 weeks left before the submission deadline, and I had from zero because we had not done any research on that topic before. (2) Of course, I did not manage to do it and wasted my time.
I have completely lost the motivation to do research, and I no longer want to work in academia. I have decided to quit again. However, just a few days ago, he managed to get a new research opportunity for me. He told me that I would work with a research group in United States, and they were going to submit a manuscript next year. Now, he sends me emails everyday talking about that project, and I am so anxious everytime I see new emails from him.
I want to refuse the offer, but I don't want to hurt his feelings. What should I do in this situation? How to tell him that I want to quit?
(1) I don't have any other job offer at the moment. I am thinking of enrolling in a master by coursework program after graduation instead.
(2) The stress affected my mental health. I thought that he had done so much for me that I should not disappoint him, but I also knew there was no way I could submit the manuscript in time (within 3 weeks) because the topic was totally unfamiliar for me.