Question is in the title.

More specifically, do emeritus professors (generally) check the emails which are listed on their university websites? I have emailed a few professors lately, asking about points in papers that they wrote, and none of the emeritus have responded.

I am assuming that they do not check their emails often, if at all - in this case, would it be appropriate to contact the university, requesting contact information for the professor? Or should I leave them be in their retirement? :)

  • Two emeriti I personally know reply emails almost immediately, even more so than other people. – adipro Jun 9 '14 at 5:54
  • Maybe their emailes have changed and they forgot to modify their websites. Or maybe they use other email services, like gamil or yahoo. Try to find their latest papers and contact with them using their email addresses in the papers. – user4511 Jun 9 '14 at 15:12

Chances are, if they are not answering their university mail address, they are either busy or can't be bothered. They are retired, so both is completetly ok (it is sort of the point of retirement that you do not have an obligation to react to work mail anymore). Trying to get in touch with them over different media is probably fruitless, and somewhat obnoxious. Besides, I would really hope that the university administration does not give out private addresses to the request of random people.

Edit: an almost completely unrelated side notice: emeritus profs can be insanely busy in some cases. There is a famous austrian physics emeritus who is now writing popular science books, breeding alpacas (!), touring Austria with a science-based stand-up comedy show (!!), producing and starring a TV programme, and waging an ever-lasting war against the catholic church (as head of Austria's atheist movement).

  • 2
    On the off chance that they just don't like email, I don't think it would be obnoxious to send a paper letter addressed to them at their department. This also doesn't require asking anyone for contact info. – Nate Eldredge Jun 9 '14 at 14:52
  • RIP Heinz Oberhummer – beta Apr 1 '16 at 7:13
  • @beta Indeed :( – xLeitix Apr 1 '16 at 12:42

If you think that there is a good chance that this professor doesn't check email, and you genuinely believe that your message is important, contact the department secretary/similar and ask if they'd be prepared to pass a message to the person. You could also ask if they know whether email is likely to be read by that person.

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