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I am a current 4th year Ph.D. student in social science. In my first year, my advisor asked me to focus on my courses so I did no research even though I wanted to. In my second year, I proposed my own project and I collected data for it, with feedback from my advisor. I have yet to publish the data…

I attribute this mostly to feeling lost without having the process modeled for me first - which I have been advocating for by being put on someone else’s project for the last several years. I would think it’s because my advisor is likely ready to retire but the student after me is now on a project with my advisor and two other faculty.

I feel like a crucial step in my development was not given to me. Am I right for feeling robbed? Isn’t it standard that your advisors use you as a research assistant? But at the same time, I feel like a complete failure for not publishing something yet, even though I don’t want to go into academia.

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  • By ... '4th year Ph.D. student', you implying a US/CAN doctorate? Apr 15, 2023 at 11:51

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In my second year, I proposed my own project and I collected data for it, with feedback from my advisor.

That's a great supervisory support from your advisor. Beyond this, what have you done with the feedback on your collected data in terms of insightful analysis? This is what would lead to publication far more than the 'data'.

I have yet to publish the data.
Perhaps, this is where you should direct your energy.

As a doctoral student, showing some level of independence, initiative, creativity, and writing for publication are essential aspects of your 'training' and evidence of your 'doctorateness'.

It appears you're more on #assumptions mode. I'll recommend you teach out to your advisor. Engage with what you've done with the feedback on your collected data. Show draft of manuscript idea, even if it's one or two pages.

Isn’t it standard that your advisors use you as a research assistant?

For completeness, RA isn't cast in stone. Ain't compulsory.
Regarding your including you on (other/additional) research, let's look at it this way. You've got a research that reached data collection. There're feedbacks. Should your advisor 'overload' you with more research?

I'll stop with a poser: Do you need additional research for your doctoral study writeup?

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I think the answer to your question requires self-reflection on your part.

  • Why do you think your project hasn't yielded any publications yet and how would joining another project help?
  • What do you expect to learn on someone else's project? You mention having the process modeled for you, but what exactly are you looking for.
  • What exactly do you feel has been "robbed" from you?
  • What is it that you're looking for from your advisor (other than being put on another project, which you seem to be a bit fixated on)?

I don't think you were "robbed" of anything. It sounds like your advisor is allowing you the space to develop your own ideas. I would argue that this is exactly what you want in an advisor, especially considering that you admit they continue to give feedback and support.

I think that it is natural to feel lost in the process of research. But as mentioned in another answer, developing independence is part of the journey. Your energy should be directed towards your current project.

All that being said, if you feel you need more specific guidance, you should ask. However, that support does not necessarily mean you should be added to other projects - you have your own.

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