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I'm trying to inquire professors regarding whether they accept masters students for graduate research assistant and I'm having trouble phrasing the email. If anyone could take a look and provide comment, that would be wonderful. Also just fyi the professor that I am applying to her field is within social media and communication and I'm trying to say that my background in social science and psychology research will be useful if she were to accept me.

"Dear Professor XX,

I am an incoming masters student at the school of XX and I was I was wondering if you will be accepting graduate research assistant this upcoming fall semester if at all? I have fours years of undergraduate research experience in social science and psychology and I hope to use my background to contribute to your research/lab in anyway possible. I am attaching my resume for your reference and I hope to hear from you soon!

Thank You

My Name"

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I think that GoodDeeds' suggestion covers you well already, some extra suggestions I can give that are more specific to your email are:

  • Short sentences: consider that the higher the position academics occupy, the more emails they get, the less time they can/want to dedicate to their emails. This occasionally means that they will spend an abysmal amount of time reading it and they might get bored with long, single-sentence emails. For instance:

I am an incoming MSc student at the school of XX. I was wondering if you will be accepting graduate research assistant on this fall semester?

  • Whitespace: this is always underestimated and not explicitly mentioned in most etiquette/style guides. Adding a bit of whitespace and paragraphing on your email improves readability (i.e., odds that the person will actually read what you wrote, in this case). Just don't go overboard and stick with the logical passages. E.g.

I was I was wondering if you will be accepting graduate research assistant this upcoming fall semester if at all?

I have fours years of undergraduate research experience in social science and psychology and I hope to use my background to contribute to your research/lab in anyway possible.

I am attaching my resume for your reference

I hope to hear from you soon!

  • Grammar: this comes from a non-native speaker, I have been struggling with this in first person in my uni years. Some people will just straight-up ignore you if you use bad grammar in an email. It's prejudice, it isn't nice, and (depending on the academic culture in the country) might not be even explicitly mentioned at any point. Make sure your grammar in the email is on point through revision by another person (ideally a native speaker with experience in the target language, i.e. English in this case) and/or through online services (a common choice is Grammarly.

  • Greetings/sign-offs: should usually be appropriate to the level of confidence you have with the addressee. I am assuming from your email and post you might not know them very well (please correct me if I am wrong), so I would personally rephrase it in something like:

Looking forward to hear from you soon.

Kind regards,

Firstname Surname

The last point specifically wildly depends on the country they're based in, academic culture, and (more importantly) their personal attitude towards this kind of formalities.

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  • I really hope this doesn't sound too obtuse, I have been just trying to be as general as possible while not being totally blind towards the fact that some people are petty towards emails, as most of us might have experienced already. May 14 at 17:42
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    I think it's a good answer, but it's an answer to a question already asked here many times and with a community wiki duplicate here: academia.stackexchange.com/questions/90725/… I think most of your answer is overlap with that one but if you feel there is anything to add there you can make an edit (or add a new answer; it's possible a new answer would get some downvotes if people thought it overlapped with the wiki answer too much and seemed like "rep grubbing")
    – Bryan Krause
    May 14 at 17:52
  • Thanks for the response. Although I'm not sure where you got the idea that I'm a non-native speaker. May 15 at 1:22
  • Sorry, didn't want to imply it (it doesn't really matter, regardless of the language spoken), but when I passed it through a grammar checker it flagged up a couple of phrases. May 15 at 1:26
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I don't want to sound mean or discouraging, but in my 15+ years of professorship, I received hundreds such emails and, after a split second look, discarded each and every one of them. All my colleagues would probably do the same. (Math, US -- maybe it's different in social sciences/other countries.) I am, in fact, genuinely interested to know if anyone ever succeeded in getting an RA this way.

There are two main reasons. First of all, if a professor has funding or there is a spot in their lab, there would be an official advertisement for the position to be filled, so you should respond to that, rather than try to get personal in a completely artificial manner. Second of all, your letter does not indicate that you have a clear idea of what the professor does/needs/wants or how exactly you may be useful to them. Take their classes, participate in their seminars, go to their office and talk to them about their research, etc. Most likely, if they feel that you can fit in their lab, or you could be a worthy graduate student, they would be the first to ask if you wanted to work with them. No matter how you phrase, "Hi, I am shiny, please, give me money!" -- it's just that. I can't imagine any sensible person responding positively to such an inquiry. (It's not to imply that every professor is sensible, of course.)

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