I am a second year Ph.D. student in a North American university who is mostly working on applied mathematics with a supervisor/advisor/PI. I have been troubled by a pattern of my own behaviour that seems to go against the seemingly correct way to succeed in research and I wonder if I have some sort of an "anti-research" personality.
Here are the problems:
I study whatever is interesting and cool (within a reasonable range of my discipline) and this causes me to lack a solid focus. It seems to me that people who wind up obtaining a PhD learn to abandon so-called academic freedom early on and drill into a tiny research area. For example, while other people's research could be about different types of seahorses, my research would be about seahorses, pipe fish, shrimps...you get the picture.
Since I work in applied math, therefore I often demand more proof of applicability, where my supervisor is totally happy with toy models. He thinks it is completely sufficient for publishing a paper while I think it is fake applied research. This seems to generate some conflict between us and usually I am the one who gives in at the end and do some simulation on these toy models to make him happy - I never care about these problems. Most other people in my field only simulate toy models as well, not really "real-world" applicable in any sense, but hey, it is sure pumping out a lot of papers.
I never collaborate or ask for help from my peers no matter how stuck I become. I often see my colleagues collaborate with each other in the office. A part of me is jealous that they are taking advantage of each other's knowledge, another part of me almost thinks that this is like cheating. I feel that my thesis and my ideas wouldn't be mine if it was interfered or influenced this way. It wouldn't feel authentic
I move on to a completely new topic immediately after I finish my old one. Usually the way I see how other people work is that they try to do something tangentially similar to what they have done before, i.e., blue-tailed seahorses, then yellow-tailed seahorses. I jump to studying pipe fish immediately after I warp up my research on seahorses. I think my advisor must dislike me immensely for starting from scratch after every project.
If a problem seems to have an easy or existing approach that solves it, I find the problem less attractive to the point that I get physically sick from reading about other people's approach. However, a lot of times in research I find that other people would simply adapt other people's method for their own problem and then publish a paper that way. I try to solve it in my own way every time and most of the times it gets to a point where my supervisor intervenes and tell me to do whatever other people are doing. Again, I give in at the end.
I don't even try to follow my advisor's vision of my project. My advisor seems to have his own vision and ulterior goals that are not completely aligned with mine. I think a good PhD student should just listen to him like a father-figure and do whatever I am told. But I don't agree or sometimes don't even care about his specific vision. For example, why should I do a research on the dorsal fin of a seahorse (for your "dorsal fin grant") when I can study pipe fish instead? I understand that he is the one who is funding me, but I also care deeply about my own academic freedom.
Given these habits, am I doomed to fail my PhD? Do I have an anti-research personality?