Faculty vary greatly in their level of involvement with the details of the research projects of the undergrads, Ph.D students, and postdocs they supervise. Here are three different examples based on real senior people.
A. gives the student or postdoc a project topic and basically does not want to talk to them again until they bring a draft of a paper.
B. talks to their students regularly but boasts that they have not looked at a line of computer code since they became a faculty member. It is the sole responsibility of students to write and debug code.
C. is very involved. One night before a conference presentation they stayed up until 3 am trying to debug a students code in the hope of getting some more results to present the next day.
Similar issues arise with analytical calculations or getting experimental apparatus to work.
What is an appropriate level of involvement?
On the one hand, it is important that students take responsibility for their projects and learn to solve their own problems.
On the other hand, faculty can speed things along and sometimes quickly find "bugs" because of experience. Also a more "hands on" approach gives a better feel for how well the student knows what they are doing and is checking things.
It is fascinating and disturbing to me that in the Schon scandal, Batlogg confessed that he never went in the lab and so did not realise there was no real experiment.
I think there is no clear cut answer. Different people have different strengths and interests (both supervisors and students). Some really enjoy the level of detail and others are more interested in the big picture.
However, I must say that I think A. is problematic.
Overall, I am closer to B. than C, but this has varied depending on the person involved, the project, and the technical problems.
What do you think?