I was having an email discussion regarding my postdoctoral application with my potential host supervisor. At one point, he asked for recommendation letter from my PhD supervisor.

When I contacted my PhD supervisor, he asked me to forward the above-mentioned email correspondence to him. So, I forwarded my email discussions with postdoc host to my PhD supervisor. The mail didn't contain anything related to postdoctoral project, but only on official matters like interview timings etc. My supervisor has sent his recommendations to the postdoc host in the same email track. I wanted to know is it unprofessional from my part?

Recent Update: I came to know that my PhD supervisor wrote a simple email instead of a formal letter with his signature and stamp. Moreover, he mentioned only my first name with wrong spelling (e.g. 'Dr. Jahn', instead of Dr. John Smith). He also asked the postdoc host if he could collaborate with him in the same email. The email doesn't contain anything bad about me but the structure of it looked naive to me. Can anyone suggest anything regarding that?

2 Answers 2


It seems unlikely to me that there was anything confidential in what you sent and therefore little reason to worry.

It may have given your advisor some context in which to write a better letter, actually.

I suggest relaxation.


For the future you may consider putting your supervisor in CC in one of the email you send to the other professor.

Dear X,

Thank you for your interest in my application.

My supervisor @Y is happy to provide you with a reference letter in the coming days.

Best regards, Z

This is my preferred method to share email communication with others.

  • Thank you, but is it considered rude or unprofessional in general to forward such emails without permission? I had to forward though as sometimes it is very hard to demonstrate the exact scenarios to my doctoral supervisor and he himself asked me to forward those correspondences Feb 19 at 6:24
  • @Magenta it depends. Usually one should expect that professional mail can be shared within an institution, but keep in mind data protection regulations (GDPR if you are in Europe). If it regards private matters it becomes more tricky of course. In your case the other professor will find nothing odd about you forwarding the mail Feb 20 at 11:33

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