A few months back I contacted a potential advisor I am interested in doing my PhD with and he replied that he is considering my application and will be back in contact with me.

Today, I received another email from him basically saying:

Dear [My Correct Name],

Are you still interested in doing PhD with me? If so, I will interview you.

I wrote back that I am still interested and gave him my contact information.

He replied:

Dear [Completely wrong name/ probably another applicant],

Thanks. I will come back to you later.

Should I send an email correcting him or just forget it?

  • 6
    In general, for both academia and industry, get in front of the potential misunderstanding as soon as possible. You don't want to (hypothetically) spend a month waiting for this guy's follow-up email and then find out he never knew he said yes to you, but he saw the "replied to" icon and assumed he had told you no already. Feb 26, 2015 at 0:06
  • 3
    I'm sorry if this comment seems harsh. I am not a PhD student and don't claim to know a lot about academic etiquette, but this question is one of the silliest I've ever seen. Unless you're living in a sitcom, why would you not correct someone who's gotten your name wrong, especially for something so important? It probably a trivial mistake and fixing it should be just as trivial. Feb 26, 2015 at 4:44

2 Answers 2


In case the email was actually intended for the other person, it would be courteous to reply, saying that you got an email from him that you think may have been meant for someone else.

  • 7
    Also would be helpful to assume nothing either way, good or bad. It could have been a business email that he typed in the wrong window, for example.
    – Compass
    Feb 25, 2015 at 18:47

I would suggest you write him a short message:

Dear Potential Advisor,

In order to avoid any misunderstanding, I would like to confirm that this interview confirmation was addressed to me: YOUR FULL NAME

Thanks in advance!

Your first name

I smile a lot and I use ":)" a lot as a gesture of sympathy on emails, sometimes even in formal/commercial ones. So I would add one:

Thanks in advance! :)

The smiley face will soften the error remark, and IMHO help to show him that you are really concerned about a possible misunderstanding and not offended by his error.

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