I have research!!

Hey everyone, I’m a bit psyched so I wanted to share this. Through word of mouth, I picked up on a good lab at my school that I could hook up with for my MS research requirements. I talked to the prof and he’s agreed to take me into his lab! His expectations for me over the next year:

  • Two published articles that I'll first-author.
  • About two additional published papers that I'll co-author.
  • Presenting at at least one national conference (certainly poster, hopefully oral).
  • Receipt of a travel award.

He made it clear he expects a lot of work from me, but the things listed above are things that with his help, his research students regularly receive. The girl who introduced me to him (an MS candidate) is actually being inducted into Sigma Xi, beating out half a dozen PhD candidates from the school whose applications were rejected. He also said that he's never had a student not get a travel award for a conference, and his students regularly get multiple papers published (and again, I'll get to first-author TWO of them).

Ha ha! I feel so frikkin' pumped right now I can't even describe it.

Not to cast a shadow or anything but two first author papers PLUS two co-authored papers in one year is a heck of a lot of work. Not to mention the presentation.

I know a lot of master’s level programs that will be satisfied with one first author peer reviewed and published, and one or two presentations.

Heck, just geting a paper reviewed, corrected, and published can sometimes take several months. I am assuming these are scientific papers?

Scientific. Don’t know what my specific projects will be yet, but the lab works on clotting and relevant drug discovery. There’s a number of students in the lab, all on different schedules. The deal is that whenever you’re waiting for cells to culture, or an article to come back for revisions, or whatever, you’re helping someone else with their work (which is how I get co-authorships, and how my articles get co-authorships). I know it’s an insane amount of work, if he said that I’d have one paper published and co-authored he’d have had me at hello. But he says that this is realistic and what he’s seen his students get, so I’m all in for it.

Spending the weekend working on my IRB cert. Then need to get certs for small animals and radiation. Whew!


I have been there. This PI doesn’t know what s/he is talking about. Two publications in a single year is not realistic.

What you may end up with is a failed research experience and no possibility of having a good letter of reference.

How many publications does the PI publish with all the folks working for him or her? How many folks in this lab hit the 2+ papers a year. If you ask me, this is BS. Not that this never happens, but it is far from the norm and while a few people may do that, saying that anyone entering a lab will is insanity.

The best postdocs in the best labs publish on average 1.4 papers a year (I read a stat about it). If the papers are published then you should be able to look them up and verify for yourself.

I would be very very careful. This kind of behavior is exactly why I have never seen myself as a pure academic where you expect the moon from people and end up treating them like S***.

I just think expectations are out of wack. You should definitely discuss with one of the employees in the lab. This is a good indication. Do not believe everything a PI says.

I hate to be discouraging. Over the course of my training, I have had great years (with many publications) and also very bad years (with none). The good years do not make up for the bad.

I truly wish the best of luck and would hate to be discouraging. But I do hope that you know what you are getting into. Some PIs served me the exact same talk in the past. It ended very badly each time. With the PI that didn’t serve me this talk, who wanted me to get trained, then I was able to even do better than 2 publications a year for 5 years (about 3).

Again, I am not saying it is impossible. But this type of talk says a lot on your future PI. I hope I am wrong.

As a published Scientist of many, many years, I’ll have to agree with Redo and Dazed.

IF by some miracle what he’s proposing was possible, you’d have to be in the lab 18 hours/day to make it happen.

You may want to ask his group what types of hours they average in the lab. I’m all for hard work, but this dude sounds like a slave driver.

I appreciate the advice, all. I’ll talk to some of his students and see if I can get some hard and fast numbers on their workweeks and publications. I’ve looked through his profile pages a bit and he seems to average 2-4 publications a year. I think that his lab is a bit smaller than he’d like at the moment, but he has lab space for 6-8 students and some post-docs (more once he moves to new lab space currently under renovation). I was told coming in to expect long days and late nights, which I’m fine with (honestly, I’m a bit stoked at the thought of it). I am specifically aware that all his students do present at conferences and receive travel awards.


again, I want to make clear that my aim is certainly not to deprive you from an enjoyable experience. As you said if the guy averages 2 to 4 papers a year with 6 to 8 students, it seems to me that things just don’t compute for 2 publications a year per student.

I just think that expectations should be right and not crazy.

Keep us posted.


It seems like you have your mind made up so I wish you the best and will try not to rain on your parade.

However, as someone who spent 8â…” years in research lab purgatory, I can tell you that the advice that the above posters are giving you is very wise. I’m in 100% agreement with redo-it-all, pathdr2b & Dazed on this one. Caveat emptor.