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I am a PhD applicant and I am preparing to send an introductory email to a potential supervisor.

I have two questions:

  1. I am self-funded. Should I mention this in the initial email?

  2. Is the following sentence grammatically correct?

I would be delighted to undertake a research project under your supervision, kindly let me know if this might be a possibility; I have attached my CV and academic transcript for your consideration.

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    Are you self-funded because you are independently wealthy or because you carry funding you earned on your own? – Azor Ahai Aug 7 '18 at 18:29
  • About 30% from earning post-university and 70% from my family. – user96848 Aug 7 '18 at 22:50
  • Which country(ies) are you applying in? – Azor Ahai Aug 7 '18 at 22:51
  • The UK only (I live here) – user96848 Aug 7 '18 at 22:53
  • From discussion with some UK academics, self-funded PhDs seem to frequently be frowned upon ("I don't see that this person should get to do a PhD just because they're rich!"). So, it might totally be a good idea to conceal this fact, and, better, reconsider your decision. Being self-funded doesn't help you and can actually hurt you. – xuq01 Dec 6 '18 at 10:21
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You could mention self funding or not. However, it is important that you give some indication of why you are interested in this person and what it is in your background that might interest him/her in you. Mentioning past research projects in the same specialty would be helpful. Your statement is fine, but only as an opening.

In particular, you should investigate the background of the potential supervisor, including publications and past students. In mathematics, for example, the Genealogy project can give you information about where the person fits - advisor and students. For famous people, even wikipedia will give you information.

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    Don't mention self-funding. First, find out if the prof is interested - they may have some funding available. Any PhD that is worth doing is worthing being paid for by a studentship or other funding and offering to be self-funded has the danger of underselling yourself. – Captain Emacs Aug 7 '18 at 18:37
  • Thanks, yes it is just part of more detailed email - should have said above. Re funding, I understand it's better not to mention it. Does this also apply for enquiring about potential MRes projects too? – user96848 Aug 7 '18 at 23:06
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I remember meeting with a potential supervisor who told me he was very concerned about students being self funded, particularly in fields like computer science, as typically there is enough funding that if something is worth doing, it'll almost certainly be able to be funded in one way or another. If you're in humanities that's obviously a different kettle of fish, so I think whether you mention this depends on your field.

I would never personally use the phrase "kindly let me know" as it may come off as accidentally abrupt, but perhaps something like "please could you let me know if this would be a possibility based on x, y and z?". I'm assuming this is only a small part of a wider email, so be sure to appeal to their own research, and explain why they're a good fit to your future work.

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I think a good introductory email should highlight your strengths and your project.

A PhD is your task, a supervisor in my experience will advise, but it is down to you to come up with the research ideas etc.

I would mention that you're self-funded as it can only increase your chances of them looking for funding.

Use the website www.jobs.ac.uk and show some initiative and that Professor may help you get some funding you have already introduced.

Be proactive and best of luck!

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