I am very much interested in some specific subject in mathematics that there is no professor in the whole country of my residency working or knowing about that subject.

I am a first year masters student and there is some professor in my university that is willing to 'supervise' me on this subject for my thesis but he said that because he is not an expert in that area, he won't be able to do research with me so to yield a publishable result.

It would be very helpful or maybe vital to have a published (or at least submitted) paper in that subject to help me getting an admission for PhD abroad (Canada or Europe) that I would like to apply. Nevertheless, I myself am very eager to do research in this subject regardless of its helpfulness for PhD admission.

The only way to do a good research is to do it under the supervision of some professor who (unfortunately is not living in my country of residence but he) is a highly expert in this area. He also used to work with other people in this subject so he likes very much collaboration.

My question : I am a student of masters program not an expert in this area so maybe I can't ask for being a colleague and because I am not a student in that university of the professor, I can't ask for being a student of his. So how can I start a communication with this professor (through email) and ask him to do research with/under him?

PS In my area of interest I mentioned only a few professors in the world are doing research.

  • 3
    I did exactly this. I cold emailed people, explaining my situation and asking if they would supervise me remotely. Each one that said no gave me the names of a couple of other people to ask. Eventually I was lucky enough that someone said yes. You have nothing to lose by asking. Jul 2, 2021 at 17:24

1 Answer 1


There is nothing wrong with such an arrangement provided your own advisor agrees to it (and stays in the loop over time). But it it very difficult to arrange. A cold email from you may well be ignored and isn't very likely to be answered.

However, if your advisor makes the request to the other professor it is much more likely to result in something. Even if they don't know one another now, a note from one professor to another will get read and considered. Let your professor introduce you to the other person and vouch for the quality and seriousness of your work.

Alternatively, you might have to consider changing topics to something that can be supported locally. Good luck.

  • At the very least, make sure when you email folks to CC your local professor.
    – Dawn
    Jul 6, 2021 at 14:01

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