Can I mention someone's(academic) name and comment which I got from a mail, to another academic (to increase the credibility of my work) without informing the first academic that I am going to use his name and comment?

For example, I sent my work through an e-mail to Professor X( Ph.D ). He wrote me back briefly that -

"the analytical results are correct but they are not practicable. You should work on approximation algorithms for .... ...."

I think the part "analytical results are correct" adds some credibility to my work and I would like to mention Prof X and his comment(whole comment) when I write my next mail to someone else. Since, academics have issue with mail from strangers(tagged as 'crackpot' or 'crank'), this comment might interest them.

But do I have to ask permission from Prof. X to mention his name and comment to another academic ?

  • 27
    This sounds like you want to say to Prof Y: "Note that Prof X acknowledged that my results are correct." That sounds like a very bad idea, especially since the whole comment is not positive, it's at best neutral.
    – yo'
    Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 7:50
  • 3
    The other academic would like to judge the quality of the work himself or herself. He or she will do it anyway, regardless of what you write. Therefore, I would suggest you to follow the advice given by @ff524.
    – mmh
    Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 7:55
  • 1
    @mmh , (1) the reason behind this is that: to make my mail interesting/ worthy. Probably you have not experienced this but academics are uptight about strangers and don't read their mail.You seem to missed this point. if they " judge the quality of the work himself or herself" generally , then i would not come up such idea.
    – Michael
    Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 8:00
  • 17
    Do not take Prof X's quote ("correct") out of context ("but not practicable"); either quote them in full, or don't quote them at all. Quotes from experts will not make your email more interesting/worthy—if the expert really liked your work, they would be sending the email—but an out-of-context quote from an expert will brand you as an unethical crank.
    – JeffE
    Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 10:58
  • 8
    i don't know why you think i am going write half of the comment — Because you wrote "I think the part 'analytical results are correct' adds some credibility to my work." — is not it my job to inform an expert my work and ask opinion and advice?NO!! If you're a student, it's your advisor's job to give you advice; that's the literal definition of the word "advisor". Otherwise, the standard method for informing experts about your work is to publish it.
    – JeffE
    Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 14:56

4 Answers 4


It sounds to me like you don't have a relationship with either Professor. If so, don't quote the first one. Don't even ask.

There are other ways to get what you want. The first Professor gave you an opening. If you follow through on his advice, you have a means to build a relationship with the guy. Mentors actually love it when others take their advice (since it doesn't happen as often as they'd like). So if the advice seems worth pursuing, go for it. Just think of it like a friendly game of tennis. It's only fun when the other player is able to return the ball back to you. So return that ball (if you think it's worth it) and keep the exchanges going.

As to the second Professor, there are other ways you can get feedback from him. And you're right, email is horrible if the guy doesn't know you already.

If he's located in your general geographical area, you should drop by his office. If that Professor can associate a face to the email, it's much more likely he'll take your email much more seriously.

Another thing you can do is frequent the same mailing lists and the same discussion forums this Professor contributes to (assuming you can guess which ones they are). If you become familiar with his research and his computer science-related interests, that's another way to grab his attention. If you provide good feedback on some of his ideas/projects/posts/code, he will most likely do the same for you in return if you ask him.

And by the way, do not fake an interest in his research. Study his research/interests until you're genuinely interested. People can smell fake enthusiasm. So don't fake it if you're not really interested.

And finally, don't be afraid to ask for referrals to other academics if a particular Professor reads what you have to say, but is not interested. The only reason I'm not suggesting you do that for the first Professor is because you don't seem to know him and he does seem interested. He just thinks that your project should be going in a different direction, so he's not likely to refer you even if you ask him (without you first incorporating his initial feedback into your project).

  • Thanks for your answer. You are right , I don't know the 1st academic personally. He published a result on the same topic, so I mailed him my idea as my department/adviser was/ is not interested in that particular topic .As an undergraduate student, I would like to take his advice(since i have no one to advise me !!), I mailed him 2 weeks later asking carefully why he thinks that the algorithm is not 'practicable' but so far he has not replied. that is why i am thinking about sending someone else(have not done it yet).
    – Michael
    Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 23:06
  • Work on "approximation algorithms for graph isomorphism" then. He's much more likely to reply once you incorporate some of his ideas. Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 23:26
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    And yes, an academic advisor for undergrads doesn't have the same role as for graduates. For undergrads, that person is an administrator, not a researcher. Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 23:29

You should ask permission from Prof. X.

Quoting a statement like "the analytical results are correct" implies endorsement to some degree.

You should be very careful not to say anything that could imply endorsement without permission of the "endorser."

Note that if he does give permission, you still have to be careful not to quote his statement out of context. For example, you should not say

Prof. X said my analytical results are correct.

instead, you should explain what he really said, more like

I showed this work to Prof. X. He said that the analytical results seem correct, but not practical, and he suggested that I look into approximation algorithms.


I admire your chutzpah. But please save it until the appropriate time. Prof. #1 kindly gave you useful feedback -- now take a little break from emailing, and focus on finishing your undergrad and getting started in grad school, where there will be people right there under the same roof who can give you lots of guidance, support and positive feedback. It's good to have curiosity and initiative. They will stand you in good stead in your graduate studies.

  • I don't know the meaning of "chutzpah" , I am not going to google it either. Would you be kind to explain the word a little? why you wrote that?
    – Michael
    Commented Oct 16, 2015 at 3:17
  • If you google it and then need help, please let me know. Commented Oct 16, 2015 at 3:19
  • Please, don't use exotic words to a non-English person. I hope, you are aware that it is an 'international forum ', some of us, are not good at English. About your answer, it is a mundane one. There is hardly any chance to go grad school for people who ask question like this, you should have realized that. Moreover, the advice seems to be a digression . I asked about an ethical question, it was answered against my perception . If you have something to add(advice) , please do that. Thanks for your contribution though.
    – Michael
    Commented Oct 16, 2015 at 3:34
  • @Jim - Are you saying you have little hope of going to grad school? Perhaps you could write a Question related to that. I would hate to see someone with your curiosity and initiative not be able to go to grad school despite the strong motivation you clearly have. Commented Oct 16, 2015 at 3:37
  • 3
    It's a good thing if channeled wisely. Look, English language learners can't afford to be lazy about looking things up in the dictionary. I'm not going to budge on this. // I hope you will post a question about the difficulties you face in attending grad school. Even if no one can offer any useful suggestions, it would still be good to document this situation. Commented Oct 16, 2015 at 3:43

Note your statement here:

...to increase the credibility of my work...

What you are saying, in effect, is that your work is not sufficiently credible on its own to achieve your desired results.

You are employing the logical fallacy Argument from Authority:

  • Premise 1 - Professor X is usually correct on matters related to his field.
  • Premise 2 - Professor X says (part of) my work P is correct.
  • Conclusion - Therefore, without a doubt, P is correct.

Instead of asking Professor X (which I would strongly suggest you do if you're going to use the quote) for an "endorsement", consider strengthening your work. Professor X already told you to do the latter:

You should work on approximation algorithms for .... ...."

  • 5
    Referring to the judgement of an expert in the field at hand is not a logical fallacy; but it isn't a very strong argument either.
    – Davidmh
    Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 19:28
  • 5
    -1 You're exmploying the logical fallacy of putting up a straw man. The asker isn't concluding that P is correct without a doubt. They're just saying that Professor X's opinion about it makes it more credible. Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 19:40
  • @DavidRicherby but Bryan suggests the OP to strengthen their work, instead of using the endorsement, right?
    – Ooker
    Commented Nov 13, 2015 at 6:14

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