I need some etiquette advice. The book version of my PhD manuscript has just come out and I have a limited number of copies (8) from my publisher that I can give to family etc. My dilemma is whether it is more appropriate to send a copy to the department where I earned my PhD or to send the copy directly to my supervisor, who has retired and is no longer teaching there. The rest of my committee is still teaching in the department.
Any thoughts? Thanks for the help, Wendy

  • 2
    The supervisor helped you more, so send the copy for him or her. But why not do the both?
    – mmh
    Oct 20, 2015 at 17:56
  • If your motive is to show appreciation, then this question gets a bit emotional: who do you feel more gratitude for? Who do you wish to thank?
    – TOOGAM
    Oct 20, 2015 at 18:34
  • 1
    A "thank you" mail, mentioning that the book is out would be enough in most cases. For most of the professors I know, good booze would be more appreciated than the book :) Oct 20, 2015 at 19:04
  • Thank you everyone! I appreciate you taking the time to help with this! :)
    – Wendy
    Oct 20, 2015 at 19:07
  • My advisor and committee chair really likes good white wine, and I've found a source for a Picpoul Blanc that isn't readily accessible where he lives. So, if you want to thank someone who has retired, discover what rings their chimes. It might not be your book.
    – Bob Brown
    Apr 23, 2019 at 0:59

2 Answers 2


To the department. The point of publishing work is to share the knowledge with others. This will be more greatly achieved in your previous department where other professors and up-and-coming students can have access to your work. This would be better than your work simply sitting on your old supervisor's book shelf. Your supervisor likely knows your work and therefore does not need a constant reminder sitting on his or her shelf. Also, I never knew an academic supervisor who cherished having a previous student's work sitting on their shelf solely for sentimental reasons, which I think might be your motive.

  • 1
    Expanding the idea, if you know some other university/department/etc that does research in the same field, you might consider sending to their library as well... Oct 20, 2015 at 18:53

Beyond co-authors or people making a significant gratis contribution (e.g.: proof-reading your manuscript for free; helping you with translating between languages for free), nobody is entitled to a free copy of your book. You should disburse your complimentary copies however you want.

Personally, speaking as somebody about to complete a PhD myself, my priority will be to give a complimentary copy to my supervisor, because he has been outstandingly supportive and, to be honest, I have a bit of a grudge against my department (for various reasons which I do not wish to enumerate).

If you are concerned about who will benefit most, keep in mind that retired academics are often still actively interested in recent research, may not be very wealthy (i.e.: are less likely to be able to afford your book than a department, which should have a budget for such things), and may really appreciate being kept in the loop.

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