I will be applying for PhD positions towards the end of this year and maybe early 2023. My query is specifically about cold emailing professors in Europe about possible PhD positions. Until now, I have sent out a few ~10 emails to some professors in the field I am interested in. The general format of these emails is
- Who I am, and my qualifications
- Their general area of work, and mentioning some publications/works that I found interesting
- My interests
- Questions about their research projects, and open positions.
I can't make a lot of changes to the first 1st and 4th, but I do make very significant changes to the 2nd one, and maybe a few to the 3rd to appropriately highlight my own research that relates to the professors'.
Now I recently came across a post here that linked to a BlogSpot article on how this kind of a format with "it claims to have read the recipient's work in detail, then goes on to profess an interest in a range of topics none of which related to anything I know about" are considered to be off-putting and are instantly deleted (it also doesn't help that the post talks about Indian students, and I also happen to be Indian).
The problem is...what am I supposed to do? I do need to email quite a few professors asking for PhD positions (a lot of them might know each other, but I try to not mail the same professor in the same department). And from my perspective, I am not mass emailing.
I have deliberately chosen these professors after a somewhat careful exploration of the people out there. The content about my details and interests can't change, and my queries about positions doesn't change, so the format invariably ends up looking almost the same from mail to mail. I do not have enough time either to draft different formats that talk about the same things in different words.
The only changes I make are what interests me about their work, and I can't (maybe I can) go through 10s of their papers and read them in detail to concisely summarise them in my email so that it doesn't sound like a generic email. I generally read the abstracts and end up saying something like "I was interested by your work in their field of work and especially your paper on (name of their paper)".
So my questions are:
- Is this format generically ignored by professors and instantly deleted?
- Could you suggest any changes to the format that might help?
- Does emailing multiple professors in the same field, who know each other and maybe talk to each other, count as mass emailing?
- What should be the approximate contents of my 2nd section?
That BlogSpot post has me scared that I might have upset certain professors whose research I really do like, and create an impression of a desperate candidate.