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I am applying for a PhD at a certain university that requires the student to provide and evidence of support from a potential supervisor before submitting the application. After mailing some professors, one of them agreed to support my application. It was a very brief email saying "I am happy to support you". I immediately prepared a research proposal and sent it to her. She replied by saying "Noted". I prepared my application and submitted it two months later.

Is it appropriate to email her as a reminder of myself? If so, what would be a good email? This university is very important to me and I want to do everything I can to increase my chances of admission.

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Yes, in general it's entirely appropriate to remind faculty members about letters/recommendations/paperwork they've previously agreed to.

In fact many faculty members I've known (and I cannot, alas, wholeheartedly exclude myself) rely on such reminders to a greater or lesser extent. Faculty nowadays are faced with so much paperwork / routine correspondence (and are not necessarily trained or culturally aligned to regard such things as being important) that we start to believe also in the converse: what we have heard about once and never been reminded of must not be very important.

Just now I got a second email from a secretary in my department about an annual inventory issue. She sent the first email just a few days before and included a hard deadline in both emails. In other words, she knows all the tricks to get faculty to do things without causing resentment. The keys: be polite but persistent, and make the convergence to the deadline clear by ramping up the email reminders accordingly. It really works: pardon me while I run down to her office so she can tag my laptop!

  • Thanks a lot for your response ! I may have not explained the problem clearly, but this professor is actually in the university I am applying to and I want remind her of myself because I contacted her long time ago.I thought this reminder might help my application. In any case, given the facts you stated, it seems that I should do that. Thanks again for your kind response. – user18244 Sep 10 '14 at 18:15
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    I did understand that the professor is not at your current university. (If they were, then perhaps in-person visits in addition to the emails would be in order at some point...) – Pete L. Clark Sep 11 '14 at 3:04
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As my experiences, you should.

But the tricky are, before you remind his/her about their "promises" to support you, in your email, inform him/her your little progress about your proposed research. This can be your opinion about some paper that you used as evidence. Better if you make something so called prototype. After it, change the discussion about your last email. Just ask about his/her opinion what should you do next.

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    The OP is a prospective student; it's unlikely that he/she has started the proposed research. – ff524 Sep 10 '14 at 20:25

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