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[D] Expectations working in a research lab as a new researcher

So I’ve got a little issue and I’m looking for some advice please.

I’m new as a researcher in the field, I am a masters student with zero publications so far and I’ve been accepted for an internship at another research lab to work on more theoretical things in ML. My thesis work has been entirely applied, where I worked on some clinical applications of ML, and I was hoping this internship now will help me to broaden my knowledge by working with other experts.

When I signed up I was asked what my research plan there was, and I gave a vague statement that I am interested in the theme of their research with nothing specific in mind. The issue came about when after I joined the team, I was discussing with some of the post-docs what their own projects were, and one post-doc seemed excited to share his projects and have me help out with various aspects. Then, this other post-doc, who seemed a little annoyed at me, tells me I need to find my own project and not to ask others for a project. Ok.. fine.. I was taken aback honestly, because I don’t know what research culture is like, and how people collaborate. From my perspective, there is an insane amount of publications in every niche of ML, so for me as a masters student to just waltz in and be expected to have my own specific idea ready to research it, seems quite silly and a waste of time, but maybe that is the norm? I honestly don’t know.

Sorry for the long read, its more of a vent. But my questions are:

1) Is it out of line to join a research team and expect to be given a problem statement or at least some specific ideas?

2) If yes then, how the hell is it possible for someone who has not worked in the field for a long time to come up with an original problem statement? Is this expectation realistic at all??

Anyone with similar experiences, stories, discussion, advice is appreciated!

submitted by /u/Minimum_Zucchini
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Toronto AI is a social and collaborative hub to unite AI innovators of Toronto and surrounding areas. We explore AI technologies in digital art and music, healthcare, marketing, fintech, vr, robotics and more. Toronto AI was founded by Dave MacDonald and Patrick O'Mara.