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Getting out of Research Plans?

  1. May 11, 2012 #1
    Hi everyone, I'm hoping to get some advice from people who are more experienced in things like this.

    I am an undergraduate, freshman physics major, and I have made plans this summer to do research with my department. Of course it's not going to be anything too advanced, but I thought it was a start. I am probably going to begin in about 2-3 weeks.

    My problem is that I am not sure anymore if I want to do it or not. I am really not that interested in the professor's branch of physics (and I don't want to join his research group), and also I am afraid I'll burn myself out (this last semester was a lot of work, and the next one will be even more). I'd really just like to go home. I am afraid though, that now that I've talked to this professor (maybe three times), it will hurt my reputation with the department to back out. Worse still, he is one of the big researchers in the department, and he'd be a bad person to get on the wrong side of.

    If you're wondering why I decided to do this in the first place, I am a freshman and just got rather excited at the idea of research. It was a bad choice in my case.

    Does anyone have any advice? I hesitant to do it, but also afraid to back out. I am sure it is not all that important with me being a freshman at all, but I don't want to get started out in a bad way. Thanks, everyone.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 11, 2012 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    You made a commitment. That said, it's better to bail out now than to say you'll do it and do a lousy job.
  4. May 11, 2012 #3
    I second Vanadium's first statement. You told them you would do it, and it looks flakey to back out. Personally, I have never been in a situation involving research like this. But I have agreed to do things that, as the start time approached, I did not feel like doing. Its kind of a cheesy parental thing to say, but "it builds character."
  5. May 11, 2012 #4
    I'd say don't hesitate to back out of it. If he gets offended, then console yourself in the knowledge that any teacher who doesn't understand that an 18 year old's interests fluctuate probably isn't worth working with anyway.
  6. May 11, 2012 #5
    I say do it anyway. I didn't think there was a chance in hell I'd be interested in mechanics of materials, before I took a course in the subject. Maybe you'll like this too.
  7. May 11, 2012 #6
    I would say do it, but don't worry too much about it. I hate to be cynical, but as a freshman, the professor is honestly not going to expect a lot out of you. If you do anything at all, he'll probably be thrilled. So on the same note, he's not going to be terribly disappointed if you back out. Also, I would ask if there's a project you can work on from home (maybe a literature search & report, or some programming).
  8. May 12, 2012 #7
    Acala, if you really feel you don't want to do research now, it's time to tell the prof. As nuclear85 correctly pointed out, the professor is not going to expect a lot from a freshman, so he won't be angry, almost surely. On the other side, if you worry about your research abilities (which may be the true but hidden case), just go into it. Research is a wonderful activity and if the topic is interesting for you, it may be a nice start of your career.
  9. May 14, 2012 #8
    I would say that if you have the opportunity to take a break and feel like you need one, definitely take it. Come up with a good and convincing excuse to tell your professor. On the other hand you could be honest and tell your prof that you need a break and you'd be willing to work maybe starting july or something.
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