I have faced a problem recently with my academic advisor and I seek some advice. I have been working with my advisor for one and a half year now. No publication resulted so far.
One of the problems is that I feel unfocussed. I tried to enter a lot of subjects at once. I felt that there are many interesting approaches that I tried to learn. This led me to waste a lot of time without making a significant progress in a definite direction. My supervisor has the same opinion of me.
Recently, I suggested to him that I want to work on a problem in which he is actively working on which should shorten the time to get the degree. Now however, even if it is true that I am unfocussed, the biggest reason that prevented me from making progress on this problem is that I keep hearing from everyone that my supervisor writes mediocre recommendation letters to all his graduate students (maybe to keep them working for him, I honestly do not know). It seems dishonest to me to write lukewarm letters without warning the students beforehand that the letters would not be that good. I do not know this for certain because I did not see the letters. I did not trust these claims at first.
However, some interactions also led me to the conclusion that I do not want to work with him. For instance, he did not tell me about various exchange opportunites. When I adked him he denied that an opportunity exist. Then he explicitly told me that he was afraid that I might, through this exchange program, get interested in another research problem that another professor is working on and start working on that.
Is it right for a research supervisor to try to discourage/ prevent his students from contacting other professors/ working with them with other research projects and so on?
Another question is: is it normal to remain unfocussed on a definite research problem for a long time ? (E.g. two years or so)