I know that "cold-calling" for positions is considered very poor etiquette in the academic community. But is this the case if one "cold-calls" a group which is familiar with your work? By familiar I mean the group cited (one or more of) your paper(s), but you don't know anyone in the group personally?

If this practice is somewhat acceptable in the academic community what would be the best option for inquiring about a post-doc position?

  • Depends on the field (and perhaps geographic area), so what field/area are you asking about?
    – David Z
    Dec 21, 2015 at 18:03
  • More specifically, I was asking about physics (theoretical, if it makes a difference). Thanks!
    – Bubble
    Dec 21, 2015 at 18:07
  • Maybe you can talk to a senior (your advisor) that knows these people?
    – Prastt
    Dec 21, 2015 at 19:00
  • @Bubble well, you might have to be even more specific. In (some parts of) biophysics cold-calling is the norm, in particle physics it's unusual but not the worst thing, and there might be other subfields of physics in which it's considered quite rude.
    – David Z
    Dec 21, 2015 at 19:12
  • @DavidZ It's a somewhat different field. Condensed matter, though I am interested in the research they're doing there.
    – Bubble
    Dec 21, 2015 at 19:51

1 Answer 1


If the group is already positively citing your first-author works, then I would say that it's not really a cold call. You may not have met, but when you get in contact, they will have some reason to distinguish you from the constant barrage of random people who email them asking for postdocs.

I would thus recommend getting in touch by noting your shared interests directly, including the fact that you've noticed their citations of your work, and being very straight-forward about your interest: you're going on the postdoc market, you've noticed the shared interests, and want to get in touch to see if there are good opportunities---either for postdoc or otherwise. This way, it's primarily about the professional relationship, not the job application, which is what's best for you as well. If they really do like your work and have funding available, they may jump to hire you. If not, it is likely to still help build future collaborations and other opportunities.

If they are negatively citing you or if you're Nth author on the works they cite, however, then it's effectively just a cold call, and you should follow the conventions of your field there.

  • Yes, these are first author publications. I will most likely follow your advice. Thanks!
    – Bubble
    Dec 22, 2015 at 18:18

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