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I am collaborating with a professor (and thus one of his PhD students). The professor likes me and my idea, but the same cannot be said about the PhD student.

The PhD student takes much longer than he normally would to do simple tasks which are essential for the project, and regularly points out flaws in the research design. Every research has its limitations, and I agree those are limitations, but I don't agree that they are nearly as severe as they are made out to be.

If interpreted generously, the PhD student is less enthusiastic about the project. If interpreted harshly, the PhD student is actually trying to sabotage the project.

Obviously I only want to complain to the professor as a last resort. What can I do to make the PhD student more enthusiastic?

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    and thus one of his PhD students — [citation needed] — What can I do to make [someone] more enthusiastic? — Nothing. You can’t make people enthusiastic. – JeffE Sep 27 '17 at 1:49
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    Can you clarify what your relationship is with the professor, besides that you are collaborating with him? E.g., are you his postdoc, are you his peer, ... ? – Mad Jack Sep 27 '17 at 2:13
  • "and regularly points out flaws in the research design" isn't that a good thing ? – EigenDavid Sep 29 '17 at 11:12
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    Have you asked said student for their opinion on the project? Also, if it's your idea and therefore your project, it's not the PhD student's project, so there's a good chance that what you're interpreting as 'not enthusiastic' is more of a 'is very busy with their PhD project, which is more important to them than your project'. If one of my supervisor's collaborators (who's not also one of my supervisors) came and expected me to do work for their project, I wouldn't necessarily be terribly happy about it myself, especially if I saw problems with it at every turn – Mithrandir24601 Sep 29 '17 at 16:24
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    @MadJack according to the OP's profile, they're a PhD student – Mithrandir24601 Sep 29 '17 at 16:48
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Instead of "making" the student do or be anything--which is impossible anyway--you could try treating the student as a junior collaborator rather than a gopher. Or maybe the student simply doesn't want to do this project at all.

Some people are passive-aggressive because of personality issues, but in the case where there is an enormous power disparity, many people are passive-aggressive because they don't have any other way of expressing their unhappiness about something. So it's up to you (or the advisor) to broach the subject.

You could take the point of view that the student should do whatever we want and shut up about it, but pragmatically, this approach hasn't been working out so well, so maybe it's time to try something else.

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