I'am 2nd year PhD student and I'm in the phase of problem definition and exploration for my research. Other than research, I also do both RA (working on paper review, grants, etc) and TA jobs as well. On the TA job there are many things that I do, and she only recites the PowerPoint in front of the class.
I had a good (or OK) experience with her in the first year and I done pretty well in the courses. Recently I've started my research and as I work with her I find her more of judge, an angry boss than an advisor/mentor. And in my response to let's address this shortcoming she plays too late scenario. I agree that I'm not perfect but I think that I'm dedicated, motivated and smart enough to do a PhD. However, these believe has come to question recently as I am working with her and now I'm full of doubts. To try gives more clear and less subjective statements:
- I'm working 8hr a day (56 hr a week) and she thinks it's not enough. So she demands more and signals (implicitly) me to cut my stipend. She demands something around 80+ hour per week at least.
- I think she like more of an employee than collaborator and I feel she has no appreciation for creativity at all. She just like to be given some solved problem then she gives some feedback and the less time this process take, the better.
- When I do something good, she is very reluctant to say anything positive but when some mistakes or shortcoming happen she is very quick to give you an entire speech about her experience and how good she were during her PhD etc.
- While she put me in the not good enough mode, she doesn't give me clear feedback how can I improve it. When I offer a solution, her response is basically: "It's too late, but go on, surprise me (and don't think of less workload)".
- I join the group with high confidence, fully funded, good records, grades, etc. I was proud of my ability in problem solving and now during these specially last 3 month I am full of doubts. I sometimes think she might be completely right and these frustrations all stem from the fact that I'm bad at doing PhD.
- Not only my experience but for other lab member she is more of a Boss, a judge who can tell you're good or bad (binary feedback) and low tolerance for mistakes. This situation has a history before me and probably after me.
- I have shortcomings and fragments in my foundations which I love to address. However, I'm in doubt that she thinks it's late. Or not willing to be patient with me growing. In my defense, I'm an independent and quite quick to grasp the concept, I think. However, I need time to address those (and not by 11hr/day all year)
- She pays me well in relative to others, as far as I know.
- I am not sure since not my field of research but safe to consider her as recognized in the field might not be top 10 but probably top 100. She is also affiliated with reputable university. However, I'm working in a field (a bit relevant to her but distinct) which he is not an expert by any means.
- She has years of experience in her job and I respect her record of publications. She only demands good publications from students and try to force it.
- All these confusing and cruel judgements? Sometimes I think this is her way of mentorship. She probably wants few one or two which survives this hardship as @buffy pointed out. But since she is pretty indirect I'm not sure about her intention it's always a mystery. One reason is when she gives harsh un-improvable judgement after a few days she become a bit kind...quite confusing for me....
- She is hardworking, herself and I respect that.
My worries to change my advisor
- It's possible to do so (and there is a good record of it) but since the professors are usually taken each other side and I probably need his recommendation for funds etc I'm afraid of the change because financially I'm depended heavily on this fund without the money I will be in an extreme financial hardship.
- As @Buff pointed out, in recent months I had this idea that I can manage to prove myself to her and surprise her. However, it's extremely hard when you don't believe her well intention and sometimes frankly I think she doesn't like me to be succeeded. The only way, is to some great job that surprise her in a big way. I genuinely consider that, but mentally I feel too weak to do so.
I probably don't have enough experience or might not think it through but I'm considering change my lab. So here are my questions:
- Are this scenario pretty bad or something common in a PhD?
- If I change my advisors what are the consequences?
- She once said for a job in Academia you should work more than 11 hours per day (including weekends) to survive in academia. How accurate is this claim?
- Let say by whatever reason I'm not compatible with this advisor. Is it wise to just ignore and do my research independently and forget about her? I mean just considering having no advisor and do my own PhD by myself since she clearly stated that I should define my problem and I think I can solve a problem as long as she leaves me free and give me some time. The downside is that, I don't feel mentally good during this process.