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When applying for a postdoc position, it makes sense to write something like this in the cover letter:

Dear Professor NAME. I am writing to apply for POSITION in your lab

What I'm stuck on, is that a cover letter is a formal letter, so should be written in a formal register. However, the word "lab" is an abbreviation and so inherently informal, which makes it seem wrong. On the other hand "laboratory" sounds even more wrong because no-one says "at my laboratory" in speech.

Is the word "lab" appropriate in this context?

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  • Abbreviations aren't inherently informal. Commented Aug 23, 2020 at 16:34

2 Answers 2

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I agree with you that both lab and laboratory don't sound good. Maybe you could use "group" instead?

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You could (should?) use the word the lab uses in their official name, if there is one: eg Centre / Laboratory / Group / Unit. When I was an undergrad, the department where I studied had a Hydrological Research Unit, for example. In that case your letter could say:

I am writing to apply for POSITION in your unit

or

I am writing to apply for POSITION in the Hydrological Research Unit

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