I am trying to find an external referee to review and evaluate an application package for a postdoctoral fellowship. This assessment, which is a required element of the application, is due August 13. I e-mailed a first potential referee a couple days ago (so certainly not very long at all). I introduced myself, identified why she might be well-placed to serve as a referee, and identified the deadline. Rather than following-up, it is likely that I would reach out to another potential referee if I don't hear back from her. At what point do you think I should reach out to another potential referee?

My initial thoughts are after seven or eight business days. I realize this may not be considered a long time for these sorts of applications, but I fear that the likelihood of a positive response will be severely reduced at that point and I don't want to put anyone who does agree to take on the assessment in a position where they feel rushed.

  • 1
    +1. You are doing this in a very professional and mature way. If your PhD was done at the same standard, I'm sure you'll get this postdoc position :) Jun 25, 2020 at 16:21
  • 1
    The "Community" bot pushed your question to the top of the stack. So, how did it go?
    – Buffy
    Nov 22, 2020 at 17:18

1 Answer 1


You are very considerate to your referees, and I hope you get this postdoc position!

There is no exact number of days for these things and you would know the person's emailing habits better than me. Perhaps in another 2 days (4 days total), you can write him something like:

Dear Prof. XXXX,

I am just writing to follow-up on my email below. Of course there is no rush for your assistance with refereeing my application package, because it is not due until 13 August. I wrote to you this early because I wanted to make sure that you had plenty of time, since I wanted to inconvenience you as little as possible.

If I may, I would just like to ask whether or not you might be able to act as one of my arms-distance referees for this application package: The deadline is not until August 31st, but I would just like to first establish who is going to have enough time to do it and who doesn't, so that if for example you are not able to do it, I don't end up asking someone else with not much time available. The idea is for me to be as considerate as possible to the time and energy spent by my external referees.


Please feel free to adjust this letter, or write your own based on it, or copy-paste it. Whatever makes you feel most comfortable.

Good luck on getting this position!

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .