A supervisor risks stoking a graduate student's “supervisor phobia” if he or she fails to invest the time and energy necessary to help them fulfil their potential (see 129; 2017). Students flounder without structure, clear expectations, encouragement, accountability and guidance. This can give rise to mental-health issues, causing them to distance themselves from supervisors (see, for example, Nature 544, 868–879; 2017). et al. Res. Policy 46,
Meet with your students at least twice every month. Ask about their projects, what they are proud of, what they have found more difficult than anticipated, and what roadblocks are in their way. Enquire about how they want to develop as scientists, what other types of mentor they would like to connect with and what they do when they are not in the lab. Decide on a plan that enables them to receive feedback between meetings. Help them to set specific research and professional goals.