What if "recently" published works of a potential supervisor are 9 or 10 years old but relevant to the research work one wants to pursue? Should one only go by the recent publications or the "Current Research Interests" stated on the potential supervisor's university profile page (also a bit old!) when emailing them?

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    Look at their recent papers on arxiv or Google Scholar. If they haven't published in many years, they are likely not a good option. Mar 14 at 5:31
  • @David Raveh do publications as second author count too?
    – Candy
    Mar 14 at 6:08
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    It's not so simple; often being a second author simply means their student was first author. Or sometimes it is alphabetical. I would error on the side of counting it as a publication Mar 14 at 6:51
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    “Recently” according to what? If their department web page that may just indicate that the last administrative push to update all pages (with some spiffy new formatting someone chose) was 10 years ago.
    – Jon Custer
    Mar 14 at 11:03
  • @DavidRaveh yes in my discipline that is Engineering I think most of the times the first author is the student!
    – Candy
    Mar 14 at 18:02

1 Answer 1


9-10 years is quite a long time to be inactive on a field. Certainly it suggests that they are no longer interested in that topic. However, it's not conclusive. One possibility is that the topic is not very "hot", so they've set it aside, but they're open to continuing work on it. Another possibility is that they got a grant to work on a different topic, so they've not worked on this one for a while, even though they would like to.

Especially if the topic is adjacent (i.e., within the same general field) as their more recent works, you can certainly ask. Saying you noticed that they have not published in that topic for a while, and asking if they're open to continuing work on it, would indicate you've done due diligence before contacting them, and therefore reflect well on you.

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