I have accepted as postdoc researcher in a Swedish university. Three professors in the university are correspondent for this position. I have to travel to Sweden within 2 weeks and start my new job. However, I should make sure about some issue before leaving my homeland. They all are so quick in answering. However, I sent them a short e-mail but did not receive any reply from 10 days ago. I don't know what I should do. Does such a behavior mean "No"? Or am I annoying them because of my e-mail?

  • 1
    Is such a behavior means "No"? Do you have a signed contract or not?
    – Alexandros
    Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 13:47
  • I don't know about Sweden but schools in the US just started. They may have just gotten busy. Why not send another email?
    – user60356
    Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 13:50
  • @Alexandros , thank you for your help. I have just signed a hosting agreement.
    – Amir
    Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 14:18
  • @JackSt.Claire St. Claire, Thank you. I have forwarded my original email to them but no answer yet.
    – Amir
    Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 14:20
  • Just call them by phone.
    – Nikey Mike
    Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 14:37

1 Answer 1


Variants on this question come up a lot: "I sent an email to a professor about X and they didn't reply, now what?"

My untested pet theory is that it's related to imposter syndrome somehow. People in graduate school, or entering graduate school, or otherwise just trying to enter academia, never feel like they belong. You're clearly not good enough to be there, so you had better try not to make waves lest someone notice and rectify the situation. So when a professor fails at something basic, like replying to an email, the automatic assumption is that it's probably a reflection on how little you belong, even in their inbox.

Don't get me wrong, I and every PhD student I've talked to have felt the same way, and I imagine that doesn't change at the post doc level either.

But the general answer given is "what you asked is reasonable and they should have replied. Don't assume the worst, they're probably just busy. Yes, you should absolutely follow up again after allowing enough time to go by from the first attempt."

From what you've said, this advice exactly fits your situation too. Following up with a phone call might be even better - you're not accusing them of anything, or upset they didn't reply. You're just helping them out with fitting you into their busy schedule.

The bottom line for me is that if they are actually sending you an implicit "no" by not replying, it is they who should feel sheepish when you follow up, not you. We all face rejections at various points in our academic careers, and there's no excuse for avoiding giving timely, professional rejections to others when necessary.

  • 3
    Interesting theory. I've always gone with the idea that people ask these sorts of questions because they don't want to be seen to be making a fuss by contacting the person again, and so hope they'll be pointed in the direction of a new person that they hadn't thought of. Maybe that's the British in me. The same trait that causes me to apologise to people who've stood on my foot...
    – Ian_Fin
    Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 14:12
  • @Ian_Fin I think that's a solid theory too. Well, not the foot part; that's probably just because you're British. :D
    – Jeff
    Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 14:27
  • @JeffL. Thank you so much for your promising answer. I do hope that i can call them soon. To be honest, cultural differences is also another issue when we are trying to contact with another people.
    – Amir
    Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 14:39

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