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I want to visit certain laboratories at Tokyo Institute of Technology (TITECH) when I go to Japan three weeks from now to get a feel for the research they do and if I would be a good Master's candidate for their labs.

My advisor has offered to contact the professors directly so as to give my request more visibility. However, TITECH has a Center for Public Affairs and Communications.

I'd much rather contact the professors directly since I'm on a rather short notice and I feel as a less formal visit would accelerate things up.

Here's some other information that could be relevant:

  • I will finish my undergraduate degree in about two years.
  • I am NOT asking for any monetary compensation, theses visits are on my own vacation time and at my own expenses (unless that would be unusual?)
  • I'm mostly looking for simple tours of the labs, discuss their research a bit and talk about employment possibilities.

Would it be innapropriate to bypass the "official" process and contact professors directly?

  • I'm unclear about the role of the "Center for Public Affairs and Communications". Is this the research center you will be visiting? Or is this an office within the university that deals with the media? In the latter case, what would they have to do with your visit? – Wolfgang Bangerth May 13 '16 at 21:34
  • To be honest, I'm not entirely certain. They list the number for ''Campus visits'' for prospective students... titech.ac.jp/english/contact/index.html – JS Lavertu May 13 '16 at 21:39
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    Does your advisor already know the professors? When I have visited Japanese labs I never went through some office but went directly to professors or researchers I already knew. – Jon Custer May 13 '16 at 22:34
  • Do you have reason to believe that contacting this office actually is "the official process" (other than a guess based on its name)? In the US, an office like this would be tasked with talking to journalists and reporters and issuing press releases - they wouldn't have anything to do with the visit of a prospective student. Not because people bypass them, simply because it's unrelated to their job. – Nate Eldredge May 14 '16 at 15:54
  • Yeah, Its mostly a guess. I just don't want to blow a potential opportunity by offending someone. – JS Lavertu May 15 '16 at 3:33
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If you're unsure who the right person is, don't agonize over it: Just contact the professor(s) in question and let them tell you who to write to to make arrangements. They will know the organization and who is in charge of what.

  • I'll do that and add a simple ''Sorry if I should have contacted someone else'' Thanks – JS Lavertu May 15 '16 at 3:41
  • Yes, good plan. – Wolfgang Bangerth May 15 '16 at 20:28
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I know people in Japan, have friends in Japan doing research, and traveled to Japan several times. One thing to remember: Obey the rules and hierarchy. Their system is based on respect for one another. Do not bypass a rule even though in your mind it sounds stupid/lame/waste of time.

So in your case, contact the center and wait for their response.

  • It's not clear to me from this question whether contacting the center really is a rule, or the OP is just guessing that it is. As I commented above, my guess would be that this center doesn't have anything to do with visits by prospective students. – Nate Eldredge May 14 '16 at 15:56

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