Many graduate students feel that they are doing all the work and their adviser is doing little while putting his/her name on any publications that result. It is useful to list some of the contributions that an adviser makes (beyond building the laboratory, taking any data himself, writing funding proposals, etc.).
An adviser typically identifies what work remains to be done in the given subfield one is working in.
An adviser identifies what problems can be attempted TODAY with the resources available LOCALLY.
The adviser can often times break the problem into pieces and perhaps even parcel these out to a group
of researchers (perhaps students).
The adviser often times is able to troubleshoot when something goes wrong.
The adviser/senior researcher may know what work is most worthwhile ("publishable").
The senior researcher likely has an extensive file of important/useful references that will help with a given
Much of the adviser's contribution may be years worth of work performed long before the student came
on the scene.
In my case I must thank professors Milos Seidl and Wayne Carr for the start they gave me.