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In recent months, I have found myself getting involved in varying degrees with the papers being written with members of my group. Some of the papers—by the more senior and experienced members of the group (primarily the postdoc) have needed little real effort on my part, except suggestions for improvements.

On the other hand, some of the more junior members of the group have been struggling significantly in writing papers that I believe can pass muster in getting into good peer-reviewed journals. My question is: how involved should I be in the writing process?

While I am ultimately equally responsible for the contents of the paper, it is not clear how strong a role I should play. Is it better for me to keep hounding the student through draft after draft until things are fixed to a satisfactory level, or do I need to step in at some point? Does the decision calculus change when an important deadline is on the horizon?

1 Answer 1

It seems you already know the answer -- it depends on the paper (your level of interest), the co-authors (their ability to work alone) and your time. There are no rules. I saw both advisors that spend a lot of time in technical discussions and advisors that hardly spend time to read the paper. Both were good advisors INHO.

I would say the role of the advisor is like the role of the head-chef in a fancy restaurant: Quality Assurance. If the cooks make great food, all you need to do is to clean the crumbs off the plate before it goes out. If the cooks messed the food up, you need to return the plate back to them and tell them that the fish is still raw; the chicken is blend; and the correct way to do Flambé is by lighting up 95% alcohol rather than 5%-alc beer. Demonstrations are always appreciated.