I have a precursory research – that is, an article posted in my website to know what I want to pursue – and want to send to a professor to have his opinion. However, I was advised to ask him if he has time to read my ideas first before sending links to long blog posts.

I wonder why that is a case. I understand that this is to show that I respect his time – a professor has many duties – but I think in the end it depends on the interestingness of the content. If it is interesting enough, then no matter how long it is, it is still, well, interesting. And I think this factor is basically the relevance of my email to his work. As explained in this answer, as long as the email is relevant it can be answered.

In my case, it has raised some interests to others in tangient fields, and matches one of his research interests, so I don't think there should be a problem. What may be a problem is that he may be reluctant to click on an unsolicited link, or the articles are long. But I suppose this is a normal thing that researchers do all the time? All of the problems here – sending unsolicited email to ask for opinion, putting the article in a link or attachment to keep the email short, putting the ideas in blog when they are just initial observations – don't seem to be problem to me.

Think of the email like this very question: I ask you unsolicitously, you may have a lot of duties, and there are three links on it. If I don't need to worry whether I am wasting your time reading this question, then why should I worry I'm wasting his time? The email is much shorter than this question. I don't see why there should be extra cautious.

So why does the person advise this? The full draft of the email can be read here.

Minor question: Should I put tracking links?

  • 2
    Hmmm. Why would you want tracking links? I might be insulted if I noticed.
    – Buffy
    Mar 16, 2019 at 15:19
  • I would be worried about the inclusion of a link stating that the ideas are well-received in the community when it links to reddit. This might be completely normal in your field, but I somewhat doubt that people who work in the field find the opinion of anonymous people of reddit to be indicative of anything (and will find it odd that someone who wants to do research in the area does so). Mar 16, 2019 at 15:21
  • 1
    Regarding your minor question: No! academia.stackexchange.com/questions/82869/…
    – henning
    Mar 16, 2019 at 15:49
  • @TobiasKildetoft thanks. It's just because I start from nothing (no affiliation, no adviser), any kind of "acceptance" (for the lack of a better word) is needed. I know it should not be an indication of success, but I still need every kind of help and feedback. Folks in that subreddit don't necessarily have academic knowledge on Daoism, but they practice it enough to know better than me anyway. And for what it's worth, many of them seems to be masters or PhDs on other fields too
    – Ooker
    Mar 17, 2019 at 2:12
  • @henning Thanks. This answer hits me hard. It is from the perspective of the insiders (the students getting caught and warned), so it make me feel more close than other answers
    – Ooker
    Mar 17, 2019 at 3:12

1 Answer 1


I don't think the issue is specifically the links, but that you seem to be asking a lot of the recipient in the initial mail, with, perhaps, too much information. The professor isn't likely to want to follow up on that before contacting you.

On the other hand, not making the information available at all would be an opposite mistake, requiring an additional email just to get access.

The first part of your mail is fine (taking students? interested in xyzzy). But then you could just put nearly all of the rest of it on the web site and provide a single link:

"My current interests are explained at ... Sincerely..."

So, more than nothing, but less than what you have would be, IMO, a better balance.

  • Do you think that I should include the summary of it too? I will include another paragraph about his past work too
    – Ooker
    Mar 17, 2019 at 3:38
  • probably not. Keep it short and just point to a longer version (opinion).
    – Buffy
    Mar 17, 2019 at 10:14
  • hmm, but if even the summary is excluded, then what to write in there? The summary is to invoke the interest in the readers while keeping it short after all. If only the link is permitted, then should I just send an email asking for grad position?
    – Ooker
    Mar 17, 2019 at 11:51
  • You could keep everything down to "My observations are explained", but follow that with a link to a page with everything else rather than only the article. Create a new page just for the summary with links.
    – Buffy
    Mar 17, 2019 at 11:55
  • 1
    Your several links would need to be followed and the information at those links would need to be digested. People aren't going to do that generally. They will give up early and maybe just discard your mail. If you are a student then you are asking for something and are not yet a peer of the recipient. But even for a peer it might be a lot to ask without first introducing yourself.
    – Buffy
    Mar 17, 2019 at 12:10

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