Here is the situation: I am looking for a PhD in a field somewhat different from the field of my previous studies. I have several research groups in this area in mind and they have a very large number of researchers each.

Being kind of an "outsider" to the field, I don't really have a basis to know which ones of the Professors in the groups are going to be better advisors for me, since reading the publications of each professor (among more than 100 of them) would take me an immense amount of time.

I had previously read (I think it was some answer in this forum, but I couldn't find it again) that in those situations a good approach would be to send an email to the director of the group, state your main interests and see if he can point you to maybe one or two professors who might be willing to advise you. The problem with this approach is that these research groups are huge and really important, so I'm anticipating that the director of the group isn't even going to read my email!

What would be the best approach here?

Thank you in advance.

  • Can you quantify "huge"? Jul 24, 2015 at 15:25
  • @O.R.Mapper More than 30 researchers?
    – TomCho
    Jul 24, 2015 at 22:12

2 Answers 2


Time to get started reading! Look at the group members' bios and descriptions of research interests, and pick a few that intrigue you. Then write to one, wait a couple days, write to another, and so on.


Well, I got my PhD position by emailing the director of my current group. I asked told him I was interested in 2 projects that the research group website listed. The site said to contact him first, so I did. turns out the page was way outdated and those project were dead (and the leaders were gone to other universities) but he started explaining what he was doing and my interest grew and he ended up being my Phd supervisor. The truth is, if you put a good subject in your email like "Potential PhD supervisor" or something like that, they are likely to answer. If they don't (they might be in a conference or holidays) just re-email one week later.

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