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I'm going to be entering my second year of a PhD program, which I entered straight from undergrad. I haven't published anything yet, neither since I started my PhD program or as an undergrad.

I'm currently working on a project that, should I choose to continue with, should go on for a year a two. It has only the slightest relation to the area I'd ultimately want to do my research in, if at all. That said, I'm doing well, and I think this could lead to publications if I continue down my current path. There may not be funding available for the exact type of research I'd like to be doing in the immediate future, but this project may be a one or two year commitment.

My question is, am I better off continuing with the project to get some publications, or waiting an indeterminate amount of time for something closer to my original interest to come along? If that's too vague, then are there any general guidelines for me to follow?

If it matters, my field is CS.

Thanks in advance for any help.

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    If that's too vague, then are there any general guidelines for me to follow? Yes, the general guideline is to talk to your advisor about this. He's much more familiar that we are with your specific other, your career aspirations, and other opportunities that may arise for you. I don't think this question is answerable here.
    – ff524
    Jun 23, 2016 at 1:14
  • I haven't published anything since I began my PhD. Did you publish a lot before starting your PhD or do you mean more generally you just haven't published? (i.e., is there a reasonable expectation you know whether a direction is fruitful for publication or not? As ff524 suggests talk to your advisor about this).
    – virmaior
    Jun 23, 2016 at 1:24
  • @virmaior sorry about that vagueness. Edited. I've never published anything. That was bad wording on my part.
    – user57063
    Jun 23, 2016 at 1:30

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Continue with your current focus, publish as much as possible for the next 1-2 years, and once you are more established with publications under your belt, pursue your passion subject full-time. It's best to view your current research focus as a "day-job", meanwhile developing your skills and reputation which will strengthen your ability to pursue the topics you find interesting.

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  • If you have a career as a researcher, there is a simple fact of life: if you have more than one project, you will have one project you like more than the others. Yet you still have to execute on the others as well. There are many interesting things out there, and often interesting aspects of your current problem that you have not considered yet. Get results, write it up, publish it, present it (hey, you still have to learn how to do all of that too). And in the end you might actually find that your 'dream' project doesn't look so dreamy after some experience.
    – Jon Custer
    Jun 23, 2016 at 14:12

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