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I have applied for PhD scholarship in Computer science at a European university. My master is from Malaysia. Unfortunately, my application has not been selected (only 9 has been chosen among 116 applicants).

The email I received informs me that I can file an appeal form attached against the decision made by the committee. Although having a form is supposed to be helpful, I have not written such an appeal before and am not sure what to write. The form is one page (A4) and five lines of it starts with

I expose

and I have to fill the five lines and other five lines start with

And therefore, Kindly ask you for.

The question is, what should I write here? I have no idea about appeals and their justifications and consequences. The only thing I can add since my original application is that another paper has been published. I really believe I am very strong candidate for the program as it conforms exactly to my research area (which I had published two conference paper in).

My question is therefore, what and how to write in the two sections of the form if I decide to write an appeal?

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The reason everyone is focusing on whether you should write the appeal or not is because with the information you have provided, there is really nothing that could go into the appeal. I get that rejection hurts, but you need more than "I got rejected" to appeal their decisions. –  user45756 Feb 7 at 9:42
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To be fair to the community, yes, you did say: "The question is, what should I write here?" But you also said: Any advice would be highly appreciated. –  J.R. Feb 7 at 10:12
    
@J.R. and the first thing I mentioned in my update is Although all answers and efforts are highly appreciated .... I just need to understand what can be written after (I expose) and (therefore I kindly ask you for). I would say 80% of the answers have not touched this. –  hawk Feb 7 at 10:19
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user45756 is correct: there is nothing here to inform us why your decision should be appealed. That's why nobody can really give you useful advice here. You need a convincing reason why the admissions committee's decisions should be reviewed. Simply saying "I'm a strong candidate" is not enough; there needs to be a procedural reason that motivates it. –  aeismail Feb 7 at 10:35
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RE: update 2, it looks like you have answered your own question. Don't send the appeal form, but just send a short and polite email asking them to provide feedback on your application, so that your application can be improved in the future. It comes off as much less aggressive, and your reputation will not be damaged. –  user45756 Feb 7 at 10:58

5 Answers 5

up vote 22 down vote accepted

You don't say why you are appealing the decision. If only 9 out of 116 applicants got a scholarship, then it is overwhelmingly likely that they turned down many strong applicants. Do you have a good reason to believe that your application is stronger than the 9 who received the scholarship?

I hope you're not under the impression that simply not having received an award is grounds for appealing the decision. What if all 107 unsuccessful applicants appealed the decision? The program would surely have to reconsider having an appeals process or perhaps even giving out the scholarships at all.

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"It is impossible to compare my application to others as I know nothing about others applications." Right -- so that means that you do not have any reason to think that the scholarship decisions were made improperly. If your question is "Why are they telling me that I can appeal the decision?", it depends on the university and probably even the country, but it seems to me the most likely answer is simply that that university/nation has, or feels it has, a legal obligation to tell all applicants that they can appeal any scholarship decision. –  Pete L. Clark Feb 7 at 6:30
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In other words, the people who actually made the decision are likely to be different from the people who insisted that the legalese about the appeal go in all the rejection letters. Please think about how much trouble you would be making for people who read the applications if you file an appeal without yourself thinking that you've been wronged in some specific way. Note also that such an action is not necessarily without consequence: in many academic fields the "community" is small and you could get a reputation for being "difficult" by doing something like this. –  Pete L. Clark Feb 7 at 6:33
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@hawk It is your right, but it is not necessarily wise or effective. I would think situations where an appeal would help are very rare indeed. I've been assisting some time during my PhD handling e-mails from scholarship candidates for a Master programme, and I can say that in the days/weeks following the decision, we received A LOT of e-mails from candidates 16-150 (assuming 15 scholarships awarded to 150 eligible applicants... hmm, perhaps that's why they needed minion help ;). I couldn't tell anyone anything they didn't already know (except perhaps #16, if one of the top-15 dropped out). –  gerrit Feb 7 at 9:35
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@FedericoPoloni Really? I think that it is wildly inappropriate to ask to see the accepted students' applications, or even request their names (unless someone tells you personally). The most I would do is to email them and ask why I was rejected, but I would hesitate to do even that. –  user45756 Feb 7 at 9:46
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Asking to see other applications would be asking for a privacy violation. However, I think one could ask the question in a more generic sense. The committe might be able to reveal something like, "An accepted candidate typically has a 3.85 GPA, graduated in the top 5%, and has published at least three papers," or something along those lines. –  J.R. Feb 7 at 10:05

I don't understand.

Are you certain that you would have been better than at least 107 other applicants? Are you able to demonstrate it? Or do you have strong evidence that somehow your application was discriminated against/overlooked? (Information of this kind is what should be in an appeal form)

I also don't understand the format of your appeal form. The appeal form already have the words "I expose"? If you are writing it, it sounds very accusatory, and it probably won't win any extra points for you.

Having two conference papers is pretty good, but I don't think that it is exceptional in computer science. Which conferences were they published in?

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The committee knows that I have no clue about the other applicants. What is the point of offering writing an appeal. My conference papers one published in IOP journal and one IEEE. Any these words (I expose ... etc) are part from the appeal form they provide. They are not written by me –  hawk Feb 7 at 3:42
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Well, here is a scenario in which you could file an appeal form. Your classmate A gets the scholarship, despite the fact that you have more papers, and your referees and A's referees tell you that you are much better and that you should have won the scholarship instead of A (and they are willing to vouch for you). Judging by the information that you have provided, you don't have any valid grounds on which to build your case. –  user45756 Feb 7 at 3:45
    
@user45756 I doubt that scenario would be grounds for an appeal. If all of those facts were represented in each applicant's respective application, the decision would likely have been made on other grounds (such as personality, interview performance, or a desire to bring greater diversity into the research group). –  Moriarty Feb 7 at 5:28
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@Moriarty OP didn't mention anything about interviews. Personally, if senior academics told me that I should have won the scholarship instead of A, I would go through the trouble of an appeal, just in case. But I wouldn't expect to reverse their decision. –  user45756 Feb 7 at 5:33
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@hawk suppose that the commission is using simple (not necessarily the best) criteria such as "number of publications" and "prestige of the venue". While 2 archived publications when applying to a PhD is good (I had only two "in review" papers when I applied) it does not imply that those 9 (over 100+) people with the scholarship did not do better. A friend of mine was rejected by a European Master (!) Degree scholarship because those bachelor graduates who applied had publications in IEEE Transactions of ... journals. –  dgraziotin Feb 7 at 9:35

The appeal form is likely for situations when you feel that your application had strongly misrepresented your abilities. For example, you had some examinations recently re-graded and your grades were notably increased. Or you had previously been accused of academic dishonesty but have been cleared of blame.

You cannot expect the admissions committee to thoughtfully reconsider all the other 106 unsuccessful candidates as well, as I'm willing to bet most of them feel rather hard done by as well.

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Exactly, I was half way through typing something very similar. –  Daisetsu Feb 7 at 5:06
    
How about I have some conference paper has been published recently? (I mentioned it was presented in my application but not published yet) –  hawk Feb 7 at 5:11
    
@hawk Unlikely. Publishing a presented paper is simply a "continuation" of your career, so to speak, not a misrepresentation. Your current research being very similar to the program you want to get into may not be the huge boon you think it is, either. Research groups usually like to bring in people with a good diversity of skills. I don't mean to dishearten you, but the Dunning-Kruger effect is always something to keep in mind as well. –  Moriarty Feb 7 at 5:25
    
I am a little confused as to what circumstances you're suggesting that being cleared of academic dishonesty would be grounds for an appeal. Isn't the OP applying to a program in a different country? If s/he turns in an application to another country's PhD program, that application says s/he is under investigation for academic honesty, s/he does not get scholarship consideration specifically because of this, and s/he is then cleared of blame then...s/he gets to appeal the scholarship decision?!? That doesn't make much sense to me. Rather s/he should feel free to apply again later on, no? –  Pete L. Clark Feb 7 at 6:40
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@PeteL.Clark As you might be able to tell, so am I ;). I just wrote down the only two things I could think of that could really be cause for an appeal. Discrimination might be a valid reason, but there are two problems still: (a) how can you prove gender discrimination on a case-by-case basis (historical statistics could tell a different story), and (b) appealing to the same committee who discriminated against you might not get you very far! –  Moriarty Feb 7 at 7:47

Here's what I would ask: is there anything you could include in the appeal that you didn't already include in your application?

You mentioned that you have published two papers. Did you mention that in your application? If so, that you don't really have any new information to give them – that is, you have nothing to "expose."

However, if that information was not included in the application for some reason (perhaps because you applied before the papers got accepted, or because there was no place on the application form to mention such accomplishments), then I would advise you to go ahead and file an appeal. Mind you, I'm not saying that your chances of success would be very high, but this might be one of those situations where you wouldn't have much to lose.

If you decide to appeal, I would recommend keeping the appeal short and too the point. Too much rambling might come across as quibbling, and probably not help your case. Simply mention that you have something new to mention, and that you would appreciate it if they would kindly reconsider. Don't say, "I think I'm a strong candidate;" let your academic record speak for itself. And only inclide information that was not part of your original application; otherwise, you risk irking the committee. (I can imagine three folks in a room, looking at your paperwork with ire and disbelief, saying to each other, "There's nothing new here – why is he wasting our time?", or, "Which part of ‘No’ does this fellow not understand?")

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They might also be thinking — If only we could award some more scholarships, it's a shame we have to turn down a strong candidate because other candidates are even stronger. –  gerrit Feb 7 at 9:43
    
It is also OP's fault if he did not mention the published papers in his application; papers are an important part of the application, and he should have realized this much, much earlier! I doubt that papers getting accepted after the application deadline is grounds for appeal either. He should have been more on top of things, and make sure to submit to conferences where the papers could have been accepted by the deadline. –  user45756 Feb 7 at 9:53
    
@gerrit - Not outside the realm of possibility at all; hence, the last sentence of my third paragraph. I think we agree: this seems like a serious long shot. –  J.R. Feb 7 at 10:02
    
The most likely scenario would be if there was some sort of conflict of interest on the admissions panel. But that would just lead to reconsideration. It would be very unlikely to actually lead to overturning the decision. –  aeismail Feb 7 at 10:31

I would say, do not waste time on the appeal. There is no shame to loose the competition when only 9 from 116 applications are selected.

Learn that you can from this rejection (maybe some feedback have been provided) and write the next application. And one more later.

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