When meeting some scientists in person, I've had good conversations with decisions upon interesting plans for research cooperation and personal visits. But then, subsequent contact by e-mail is difficult, where the other party either doesn't reply at all, or very slowly (several weeks +). However, when I then meet them again at a later date, they are still enthusiastic about the project (where the bulk of the work is mine) and a short in-person discussion makes more progress than the past months of (lack of) e-mail have. So it appears that a lack of interest in the project does not explain the lack of response. The project is scientifically interesting, fits with my PhD, and the visit enhances my chances of finding a post-doc after my PhD (it's a very good institute for my field).
I understand that many scientists are very busy and flooded by e-mail, but it feels sad to abandon a potentially interesting project just because communication by e-mail is not working well. I'm quite sure it would work if I were in the same building. What strategies exist to mitigate this problem? I can think of:
- Try to ask a common acquaintance to poke him/her (my local colleague has a shared friend with him/her). Pro: Might get indirect feedback as to why the irresponsiveness. Con: involves 3rd party (may or may not be on-site) not necessarily involved.
- Send reminder e-mails (did you see my e-mail from 20 February?). Pro: increases chances of being noticed. Con: may be considered annoying
- Phone. Pro: hard to run away. Con: I don't like phoning and I don't like being phoned.
- E-mail someone sitting in the neighbouring office. Pro: neighbour has small step to irresponsive scientist. Con: a bit strange to involve someone I don't even know
- Give up on the project. Con: means no project and no visit.
- Try to do the project without their input. Pro: no need for communication. Con: might waste a lot of time by trying known dead-ends that I'm not aware of.
What other options exist? What advantages and disadvantages have I not thought of? What is wise to do?