Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

REU Question/Help

  1. Jul 23, 2010 #1
    Hey guys, I'm currently involved in a 10 week REU program which ends in the 1st week of August and I know there are literally like 2 weeks left in the program with the last half of the last week reserved for our presentations and report, however, is there a way to "quit" a REU before the program officially ends? Honestly, the project I'm working doesn't interest me whatsoever of which I realized about halfway through the program and for me, I dread coming to the lab everyday especially being on a computer for so long trying to write up the final programming code necessary to analyze the data. We're using ROOT, however, I wouldn't consider myself an expert on computer programming and I just feel like my advisor(s) want me to write up this huge code before the program ends and I don't think I'll be able to. To top it off, this is my first research experience outside of lab work in the traditional physics courses, thus, I'm learning many things due to all the lectures we've had, but I'm not able to retain it all. My biggest fear is when the program ends and I have to write up a report, but don't really have any analyzed data to present??? For those interested, my REU is involved in Astroparticle Physics Research and I am currently a physics major, however, this experience has really made me think about pursuing further studies in physics. Also, I have family issues going on back home that's too hard to not think about (my dad has been hospitalized 3x since the start of my REU program). Lastly, I accepted the REU via online e-mail, thus, I didn't really sign any official paperwork w/the exception of the acceptance of the stipend. Thus, what advice can you guys give? Thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 23, 2010 #2
    I'm probably around your age and thus don't have too much experience in academia but my initial thoughts are...

    1. Don't quit. If it is miserable, just remind yourself you've only got two weeks left. Keep working on what you're doing but maybe do some self study in your time off to keep your mind turned on and engaged in something.

    2. Discuss what you've said here with your adviser. I probably wouldn't mention you want to quit since it's likely that isn't an option in his/her mind, but your concerns are definitely valid, so seeing what your adviser has to say is not going to hurt you.
  4. Jul 23, 2010 #3
    part of the reason the NSF funds REUs so to give people a chance to experience research they would not have otherwise. In the sheer number, some people are going to be unhappy. even the best baseball players bat like .350 or something.
  5. Jul 23, 2010 #4


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    How is it that quitting with only a couple weeks left is a better option than completing what you believe will be a mediocre or incomplete project?

    Keep in mind that research doesn't always work the way it's supposed to. If at the end of the term you don't have a working code, it may be sufficient to report on the work you've done and explain why your methodology was not successful. There is value in understanding why something doesn't work. I agree with Newtime - talk this over with your advisor.

    From a personal growth point of view, perhaps this was a valuable experience. It's better to find out now that you don't like research, than mid-way through a PhD.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook