I've failed to finish my master thesis, I thought this was attributed to the minimal supervision of my adviser - he/she wasn't an expert in the domain of thesis and didn't give me any kind of insights or help - only general advice - and I was let to do all the work alone and I failed to finish a good thesis (Another reason I thought was the lack of my background courses and again I had to study everything from start without focus on the target which took too much time).

Now I have a chance of interning at a good research lab, the problem that I face now is that I'm afraid that I don't have the ability/skill to do a good research. Does research require a certain kind of personal abilities or is just a matter of hard work?

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    An answer to your question title might be found here: academia.stackexchange.com/questions/37544/… – Inquisitive Jan 31 '15 at 17:37
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    @Magellanea I just wanted to let you know that I disagree with RoboKaren's assessment of the relevancy of your question. It certainly is related to academia and others have similar concerns as yours. You are not asking about research in general. You are asking about the impact of personal abilities on research success. – Inquisitive Jan 31 '15 at 17:42
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    @RoboKaren The student asked for advice on his personal academic situation, I see absolutely no problem with that. – emcor Jan 31 '15 at 18:40
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    What does "failed to finish my master thesis"? Was there a hard deadline and you failed? Or do you just mean you didn't finish on time? Can you still finish or not? – smci Jan 31 '15 at 22:44
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    Just do your best in the limited time you have. Stay cool, be systematic. Submit something. After it's over, analyze why you procrastinate - be honest with yourself (perfectionism? disorganization? lack of motivation? etc.) – smci Jan 31 '15 at 23:56

I had the same problem with my MSc thesis which I will have to hand in this month: The topic was too broad and complicated, the supervisor gave me a topic which was actually supposed for another PhD student. So I failed (will not get very good grade).

But I dont think any conclusion can be drawn for my future work, my other thesis and seminars went all excellent. If you just failed on this one thesis (and otherwise have good results) and the people at the other lab like you, they will certainly help you so you will succeed. The supervisor is I think more crucial than the actual topic, because if you have a nice supervisor he will always help you and with the team together you can succeed.

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  • Thanks a lot, the problem in my situation is that the thesis was my first research experience, the internship will be the second, that's why I'm a little worried about the result. – Magellanea Jan 31 '15 at 17:05
  • @Magellanea I think all your future work will be fully independent of your first thesis: If the lab team is nice, they will work together with you and help and explain everything (which my first supervisor did). If you dont like the team, you should not do it no matter how easy the topic. – emcor Jan 31 '15 at 17:12

Although the question is vague, the implicit distinction in it is perhaps the whole point: being able to focus and genuinely work hard over long periods of time, in the face of fatigue, frustration, etc., is itself a particular talent.

To explain, consider Mozart in music: it's not that he could magically play and compose, but, rather, that he was able to practice a crazy amount starting at an early age, and acquired profiency... So, a significant part of the "talent" was the capacity to practice long-and-hard. Yes, one can argue that also the ability to benefit from long-and-hard practice is important. And, all the more resoundingly, long-and-hard work is necessary, although one may fail to benefit from it, even if one does manage it (or is forced by parents or other circumstances).

No, it is not normal to be able to focus on anything at all at an early age, and perhaps even later it would not be normal to be able to entertain a multi-year project. To be able to do so _at_all_ I think (upon some observation) is a talent. To be able to succeed to some degree is a further talent, and there is an element of luck involved in "high success". But the latter "test" is not often reached. An example of sufficient focus but lack of other necessities is "crackpots" or "cranks". Even so, in some cases they are eventually vindicated! :)

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    The question was edited by @RoboKaren, I recommend to read the earlier version which is more clear. – emcor Feb 1 '15 at 1:38

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