I'm a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate doing research in STEM. I'm in a US research university. I'm genuinely confused as what to expect from a Ph.D. advisor in general.
To start off, should the student propose the research topic, or should it be expected the advisor assigns a topic to the student to work on? I know the answer to this may not be black and white. In my current situation, I feel it's more like my advisor gave me a general area, and I find some specific research questions within the area to work on. Still, I feel my advisor is able to offer little concrete help, except maybe point to a few papers. Is this normal? To be completely honest, I do not completely trust my advisor's judgement, since they have co-authored a paper in this area which is fundamentally flawed. And despite my advisor having acknowledged the mistakes I've pointed out in that paper, they did not seem to take any further action.
I know this is concerning, but the fact is I have already tried working with several (2-3) faculty members at my institution. All seem to be able to offer little help. One faculty did not seem to know the literature very well and gave no useful advice, with another faculty I witnessed the birth of another erroneous publication. I genuinely don't know why this is happening, my institution is supposedly not terrible (say, top 10 in most grad school rankings of the department I'm in), and these faculty members have published in top-tier venues.
Can someone perhaps shed some light in my situation? Should I basically expect no help from my advisor, and perhaps merely treat advisors taking the role of 'project managers'? In daily communications, should I just report my work, instead of expecting meaningful technical advises?
(I might add that my current research is more mathematical. )