This PhD Comics strip illustrates perfectly a common mistake of young PhD Students.

They come to us (PhD supervisors, advisers, directors or whatever you want to call it) looking for solutions but this is not our job. We are not here to take the decisions for them. Our role is to suggest them possible solutions, advise them on the path to follow and guide them in the complex task of doing a PhD but in the end it’s their PhD not ours!

We should keep this in mind ourselves as well. It’s very difficult to know how far we need to go to help them but we must be careful not to cross the line. Sometimes we get so excited about their research line (most likely we propose it ourselves) that we end up doing most of the work because we feel the student is going too slow or not doing it well enough. Of course, then the result is that the PhD Student doesn’t learn anything and we end up in the same situation again and again.

Anyway, next time you get angry at me for not helping you out enough (in your view) remember that this is part of the learning process you voluntarily decided to start some time ago. See it as an opportunity to take (controlled) risks and learn from your mistakes. This is the only way to end up becoming a researcher (unfortunately, having a phd does not imply being a researcher but this is another story…)