Thanks all for your kindly replies. This is my first time to post something on this website and I also read some other posts. I realized that I didn't get the purpose of this website. So I revised my post.
I am a 3rd year PhD student with Mechanical Engineering background. I have two advisors. One of them is a researcher in our department and another is a professor. Both of them had good papers published before. But maybe recently they are not that into research. The citations are going down. I feel like they think about my research only during the meetings. Their typical mentoring style is:
- Let the student find research gaps. The student should justify why this problem is important and why people care about it. They never tell you that "you should work on this problem"
- The student should be able to seek sources to solve the problem himself/herself, either doing literature search, or talking to other students. They never work side by side with you to figure something out
- They meet students every week. During the meeting, they will throw a bunch of questions, such as "why did you use this example to validate your theory?" and "why did you propose this solution?".
- When the student ask them questions, like "which system do you think is better for our situation?" and "Should I add this feature to our system?". Their answer would be "You need to find out yourself", "talk to xx", "what do other people do?".
- They give suggestions. But they usually say "I am not telling you that you should do this and you need to decide"
- When I follow their suggestion but things don't work out as expected, they would say "we didn't say you should do this and you need to think"
- They never check your math. If your math goes against their instinct, they want you to explain in pure English instead of going through math.
I admit that my advisors' questions are good. The questions are usually the ones we will encounter during presentation. I also agree that my advisors give me lots of freedom to do research. But sometimes I feel like I don't know how to swim, they just throw me in the water and let myself figure it out. No doubt that my research is going super slow because I had lots of trial-and-error and I did lots of repetitive things. But they are still pushing me to publish paper, which makes me very upset. So how to make my research productive when they don't give me constructive feedback?
I have thought a lot about what I want from my advisors. Here is a list and I am not sure whether or not I am expecting too much:
- When finding a research problem, because I didn't have a big picture of this domain yet, I was expecting my advisors could tell me what people care and why.
- After deciding a research problem, I would like them to give me suggestions on what kind of skills that I should get or what courses I should take in order to be able to solve the problem.
- During the research, when I need to decide something, like what assumptions I should make, I am hoping my advisors can help me decide. They have done research so many years and they should know what assumptions are realistic and what are not.
- I hope my advisors are on the same page with me, not only the big picture but also the details. I can find solution or work on math/simulation by myself. But I hope they could understand my solution and my math. I may not always right on math. I hope someone could point out my mistake if there was. I don't want the reviewers to tell me that my math is wrong and to reject my paper.