I am a PhD student. My advisor is great, but like all academics is very busy (administrative duties, other students, research...).
What happens almost every time I try to have a meeting, since the beginning of my PhD, is the following:
- We set some date, say Thursday at 10AM.
- He isn't in his office at 10.
- At 10:30 he arrives.
- It turns out Thursday isn’t great, actually, so let’s meet Monday instead.
- Comes Monday morning, and the meeting is postponed to Monday evening, and then to Tuesday.
- But Tuesday is a busy day too, so let's say Thursday at 10?
- But at 10 there are emails to be sent, and more meetings, so let's say 5.
- At 5 he isn't in his office, but at 6 we can meet, meaning I come to his office, sit, and wait sometimes half an hour until he's done writing emails, calling people...
- Then we can finally start talking. Six days after the initial meeting was set, at 6:30PM.
I think over the past three months I’ve been able to have a total of five to six hours of meeting with my advisor.
Writing all this, I realize I’m a bit upset, and I’m afraid it’s going to show if I try to talk to him about it. Because let’s be honest, I don’t want to continue like this. I cannot plan my work day, sometimes I have questions that could be answered immediately but I have to wait weeks, and it’s just generally an unpleasant experience. (And while I know some people are able to work very late into the night, I basically become useless after 6PM on a normal day...)
Of course the long-term solution is to become an independent researcher and not rely on meeting with my advisor. After all, I won’t have an advisor all my life. But right now, I’m not quite there yet. How should I approach my advisor about this, without sounding selfish or upset?
To clarify: yes, whenever I have questions I try to exhaust all possibilities before asking my advisor: internet, my advisor's other students, other people in my lab (though this is a very specialized field, few people can help me if this is about my research). But for some questions, either I am not able to find an answer elsewhere, or there is no alternative to asking my advisor, e.g. "do you think I should go to this workshop", "where do you think I should submit this paper", "is my abstract ready to go", "I found this and it looks promising, should I continue in this direction or stick to the original plan"...