I've had this friend for a while, whom I'd describe as a "very close stranger". Since we live kinda far apart from each other and have absolutely no common acquaintances etc., it's easy to share all sorts of things with each other. I know all about her weird quirks, secrets, family, friends and work, but have never met any of them and vice-versa. We meet maybe once or twice a year for lunch or dinner, but write/phone about once a week (it's actually mostly less emotions and more problem-solving oriented). It might be similar to a two-way therapist relationship without any of us being a therapist and there is a lot of trust in each other.
We've helped each other over the years proof-reading papers and theses from a non-specialized point of view, so I'm well aware of her writing style and skills, which I consider is kinda ornate for the academic field. I absolutely have no understanding of her professional field though, so I'm not ruling out the possibility that scientist in this field write different than in mine. (I myself am probably just average myself as well, upper average at best.)
She gave me a call the other day in tears and totally enraged. She just handed in her PHD thesis and apparently it got trashed. Her advisor, whom she hasn't been getting along with since the beginning anyway, judged it lacked in many things, among them scientific writing quality. She obviously doesn't agree.
I was kinda in a loss at what to do in this situation. I haven't read her work this time (didn't have the time to), but from the way she talks and past writing, I do think there's a realistic chance that at least in this point her advisor might have a point. I feared telling her that could have make her explode, she was already very upset. So in the end I just said kinda mirrored her opinion on her advisor and the situation (advisor is an ass and of course her work is good). But I felt kinda guilty because I didn't indicate that there might be actually something wrong. She said others have read it and if the language was insufficient, somebody would have pointed it out. From how she describes her other friends, I doubt that though cause they seem rather meek and she's a rather dominant character.
I only know her from her interactions with me. I have the impression she's not as uncensored/real with others. So she could actually be much more reserved with others.
She really believes her work is more than sufficient and compared it to a colleague's work (different advisor though), who got the title. On the other hand, her advisor is a professor (duh) and I suppose he should know better than her? Or, since she is "just a very close stranger", is it maybe not my problem to deal with and keeping silent and giving her a shoulder to cry on was perfectly what was to be expected?