PhD student or personal assistance?

Talking to many of my colleagues, outside of my research group, there is a very common theme: supervisors don’t seem to be able to draw the line between PhD student and personal assistant.

Is this true with every supervisor? Or is it only the sample set of our department? And, I might add – this refers to male supervisors, and predominantly female PhD students. As a supervisor, it seems as though many hours are spent on administrative tasks, and very little on research (or again, is this just our sample set??), so it would be tempting to offload tasks to students. Is this exacerbated by the uncomfortable adjustment of not being able to dedicate 100% of time to research?

The more I read about PhDs, and the process you go through, it seems as though it really is about the student, and our experience, however, I have not seen that emphasis in the majority of relationships I have observed at my university – in fact, it really seems to be about getting more data to publish for the supervisor’s track record. That sounds bitter, but there is a lack of concerted effort to develop growth areas of students, look after their physical and mental welfare, or even assist in getting a job post-PhD.

These supervisors were PhD students once – so what happened? When did the forget what doing a PhD was really about?


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