I have worked in Y for 2 years as a research assistant and then I moved to my home country and worked here for almost 4 years and published papers in reputed journals. Logically I think I should include the names of my current supervisors or the supervisors I have published works with.

But Professor X (I am applying for a Ph.D. position) is originally from Y, currently residing in Canada. He asked me to include three references from Y. So I wrote the supervisors I have worked under. So basically I wrote three of my supervisors two days ago and asked for their permission if I can include their name in my application and none of them replied yet. Maybe things are difficult due to this pandemic. In this situation what should I do? Should I write Professor X that I could not reach them? Or just send Professor X the list of names? what if Professor X contacts them and they don't reply? (I am restless because Professor X is waiting for my reply too)

  • You probably mean "references" instead of "referees."
    – JRN
    Commented May 19, 2021 at 10:04
  • Thanks. I have edited it. Commented May 19, 2021 at 10:07
  • 6
    @JoelReyesNoche actually, referees is the correct word (in British English). Commented May 19, 2021 at 10:59
  • If they don't respond soon you could try calling them on the telephone. Commented May 19, 2021 at 22:02

1 Answer 1


People get loads of emails and it is very natural that some take a few days to reply. Also some emails may be missed or overlooked, so you can write again and say it's urgent. Normally such things should be done with a few weeks time if at all possible because answering to such requests is not the first thing on people's list.

If all else fails, try to contact somebody else. I'd avoid to give Professor X the list of names without having an answer from them. It doesn't look good to pass on such information without being authorised. You can ask Professor X for advice what to do without telling them names. Surely if Professor X is responsible for the tight time frame, they should have some understanding.

  • @Lewian- Maybe I can write Professor X that I have written my referees and waiting for their permission? Commented May 19, 2021 at 13:53
  • Sure, although that may not make much of a difference... ultimately it depends on how urgent it really is. Commented May 19, 2021 at 23:42
  • @Lewian- It's been a week I did not hear from any of my ex supervisors. I decided to write professor X that I could not reach them. But don't you think it will have a negative impact on my image too? that out of 3, no one replied. But it is also a fact that we were not in touch for all these years. Commented May 22, 2021 at 8:54
  • I have no idea what Professor X thinks. Rather than agonising about what went wrong, try to remind them and/or find others. Note that emails can get lost or ignored because there are always so many. You may want to remind them, maybe even try to call them. Some do stuff with more than a week delay. Commented May 22, 2021 at 11:32

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