After years of a toxic work environment, I finally decided to move forward in a different lab. However, I have to present an official resignation letter to my advisor (current PI), even when currently paid by a TA position. Any advice on how to do this? I have no idea to make it sound professional and avoid further conflict. I plan to take a leave of absence until I can find another lab.

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    Resignation letters are always the same. The reason for resigning and the type of position resigned are not particularly important. – Anonymous Physicist Apr 3 at 21:47
  • Talk to your department's administration to see if there is anything in particular that an "official" letter needs to contain for their purposes. Include that information and nothing else. – Nate Eldredge Apr 4 at 23:35

It can be extremely short and to the point. You don't need to give your reasons:

For personal and professional reasons I've decided to resign my position in your lab.

Nothing more is required as long as your contract, if any, permits it at all. In particular don't say things that might be disputed by others.

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    I would vote that up if not for the first part of the sentence. I recommend to not give any reasoning whatsoever, not even "personal/professional". It should be "<polite greeting> I've decided to resign my position in your lab from <xxxxx>. <salutation>" I agree that OP shouldn't give them a handle to pull them by, but it should not even be a notch. – Captain Emacs Apr 3 at 20:32
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    @CaptainEmacs, that would also be fine. But without the first, you'd probably get a message back: "Why.." – Buffy Apr 3 at 20:39
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    Toxic guys know very well why and are well advised not to ask lest they get an answer. But if they still ask, the answer could be: "It is time for me to try something else/explore the world." or something similar. Perhaps OP could have even originally written the shorter statement "I will resign my position in your lab on ...", leaving off even the "decided to". This reduces the notch even further and leaves even less leeway for questions. There is no "decision", just something that "happens". – Captain Emacs Apr 3 at 22:11
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    I suggest adding a date: "effective immediately", or "effective [date]". – Patricia Shanahan Apr 3 at 22:30
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    @Erik The leaving date is often a subject of conflict and confusion. Putting a date in the resignation letter prevents misunderstandings. – Patricia Shanahan Apr 4 at 17:51

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