I have two advisors for phd from differnt countries. I recieved an email from first professor. I just forwarded his email to second professor for his information. I used the native language of the second professor when I forwarded the email including one general statement. Is forwarding with the native of second person is mistake?

  • Sorry, it is not clear to me what you mean with the fourth sentence. ("I used the native language... ") Jun 10, 2018 at 13:14
  • I mean that I used language B wich second advisor speaks with it but the first advisor does not speak with la gauge B.
    – user40491
    Jun 10, 2018 at 13:48
  • So, you translate the message from Prof. 1 and sent the translation to Prof 2? Jun 10, 2018 at 13:54
  • 1
    What is the point of forwarding something that the receiver will not understand? I would prefer to just write an email telling the important things your supervisor said.
    – The Doctor
    Jun 10, 2018 at 14:27
  • 2
    I would be concerned with the accuracy of the translation...
    – Solar Mike
    Jun 10, 2018 at 18:01

2 Answers 2


tl;dr Agree with your advisors on how you communicate

You've certainly not made a "mistake". But what you're realizing is that your assumptions about:

  • Which language to use?
  • What information should be shared?
  • How verbose should you be?
  • Whose responsibility is it, and who has permission, to update the 3rd person of the triangle about communication between the other two?

and so on. In your place I would talk to both my advisors, separately or together if you ever meet, about your "email routine" - what they expect and what, and what you expect and want. Then none of you will surprise/annoy the others with undersirable email practices.

And this is basically true about most kinds of collaborations in groups of people which don't all communicate together in a common forum.


It is OK and totally normal to forward the 'raw' email from Professor A. Include any additional comments or summary of your own interpretation of what Professor A was suggesting or agreeing to. (Make sure that additional comments are clear to a reader as being your own 'side notes' - particularly if you are actually making them inside the original text).

It is appropriate to go ahead and try to explain any aspects that might be unclear due to the language issues. (If a student had to translate email into a language I understood, I'd still strongly prefer to have a clean (unaltered) copy of the original email attached in case there were any aspects that I wanted to ask about in greater detail.

The worst thing to do would be to 'rewrite' the original language in the email and send it as if it were the original text as sent from Prof A. (What if in your own enthusiasm, you misinterpreted what she was actually trying to say or propose or implied?)

The other thing that forwarding will do will make sure that everyone has everyone else's email addresses in case there need to be some other side-conversations.

However, it is in the OP's best interest to make sure there is some summary email at end of flurry of discussions that helps everyone know how the information was interpreted and acted upon by all parties.

Last line above has been added in response to @DeboraWeber-Wulff: The original (and current) answer is under the assumption that both Professor A and B are advisors/mentors to the OP and that they know each other but may have language issues - ("two advisors for PhD from different countries"). In that case, I don't agree that it is necessary to cc or ask permission before getting advice from one advisor about something communicated from the other advisor.

But, I agree with her totally - if this were a correspondence between a different set of scientists, the OP should ask permission, or at least cc the initial scientist, so that she knows that her private email is being forwarded to someone else.

  • Actually, I don't think it is okay to forward any mail from A to B when B is not on the to: or cc: list, unless you have specifically asked A for permission to do so. Sending an email is a private correspondence and should be respected as such. Jun 11, 2018 at 22:17
  • Thanks @DeboraWeber-Wulff, I'll add that - (I was assuming from the OPs description that the initial emails were assumed to be eventually going to the second faculty but that isn't always the case). Although, I do imagine some situations where the 'exchange' is more like calling and asking advice/talking to advisor (which I personally wouldn't cc the initial person on). The emails with the cc's would be final flurry of official emails between A and B and student on which everyone gets CC'd on.
    – Carol
    Jun 19, 2018 at 21:20

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