I intend to apply for a PhD in my summer research supervisor's collaborator's lab. I've informed my supervisor about this, and he's willing to reach out to his collaborator to directly recommend me to the lab.

However, I'm unsure about the best approach to making the first contact with the collaborator and notifying my supervisor. Should I cc my supervisor in the email to the collaborator, or should I email the collaborator directly, expecting him to contact my supervisor for additional information?

  • Your question seems a bit unclear. Will your supervisor make the first contact, or you?
    – user151413
    Sep 1, 2023 at 18:57
  • I'll make the first contact
    – estxx
    Sep 1, 2023 at 18:59
  • Again, having the supervisor make first contact can also work. See my other comment, below.
    – Buffy
    Sep 1, 2023 at 19:14

1 Answer 1


Email the collaborator directly, expressing your interest to join his group as a PhD student. Mention that your supervisor has recommended you doing so, and - depending on what your supervisor prefers - that he is happy to provide a recommendation, or that he will contact the collaborator directly with a recommendation. (Clarify the latter point with your supervisor first.)

More generally, it is advisable to ask your supervisor how to proceed, e.g. suggesting the protocol above, and asking whether he suggests/prefers a different way to proceed.

  • That works. You could also ask your supervisor to make first contact with an informal recommendation, saying you will soon follow up.
    – Buffy
    Sep 1, 2023 at 19:12
  • @Buffy ... though I think it is best to ask the supervisor openly how to proceed. Depending on the relation of supervisor and collaborator, and the collaborator's personality, it might make a better impression if the OP approaches the collaborator, rather than the supervisor writing "I have a student/intern who wants to do a PhD with you, whom I very much recommend", or the like -- or vice versa.
    – user151413
    Sep 1, 2023 at 19:32
  • I offer my suggestion because it worked for me, actually. But yes, work with the supervisor on the approach.
    – Buffy
    Sep 1, 2023 at 19:34
  • @Buffy I think it depends on the people and their relation. Sending someone else as a "messenger" might look good, depending on the addressee and their relation to the messenger. I don't advise against it -- as I said I think it is best to ask the supervisor openly what he thinks would be the best way to proceed.
    – user151413
    Sep 1, 2023 at 19:36

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