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For my graduate studies my supervisor was assigned to me without me having spoken to him first. Now I am wondering if I should introduce myself via e-Mail and then ask for an appointment, or keep it short and ask for an appointment specifically to introduce myself. I don't want to waste his time or appear rude.

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  • Getting to know his students is not a waste of time of a supervisor. Don't overthink it!
    – Sanchises
    Sep 5 '16 at 10:46
  • Sort of depends what you mean by "introduce myself". It'd be weird to ask for an appointment without stating your name, but he doesn't need your life history. Sep 5 '16 at 13:52
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I would send mail suggesting you think it might be helpful to meet, just to get to know each other, and ask if your supervisor might suggest a time that's convenient.

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Personally, I'd recommend going to their office and introducing yourself in person. Ask if they've got a minute and, if not, arrange a later time to meet. They may, of course, be busy or absent when you go in which case I'd fall back to e-mail, and write something like:

Title: New MSc Student

Dear Dr. Chappy,

I am on MSc programme X, and I will be joining you to work on your project 'Project title' shortly. Could we arrange a time to meet up and discuss arrangements for this project, please?

In the meantime, I am keen to get started. Could you recommend any relevant papers for me to read before we meet?

Kind Regards,

User61635

Note that there are cultural differences in how you address professors so you may need to adopt a more formal tone in some countries.

Also, be aware that when you've arranged what you expected to be an informal chat your supervisor may have different ideas and launch into a detailed technical explanation of the project. I suggest you prepare for this. Finally, and this is a key point, if you don't understand anything he says stop them and ask for an explanation. Don't think you'll impress them by feigning knowledge you don't possess, you will do far better to ask questions early so you understand what the project is clearly.

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  • Contact them -- be efficient. The draft above leaves them plenty of room to respond as they wish. And if they don't reply promptly, wait a little and remind them. They ask for a new supervisor - politely of course but they have job to do and if they don't do it, YOU will be the person in difficulties.
    – jobucks
    Sep 5 '16 at 18:30
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First of all, you should try to figure out what the typical course of action in your department is. For example, in our department, MSc students are also assigned to supervisors (both students and supervisors can have some influence on that process, but the principle is the same as it seems to be in your case: It's not primarily something between the prospective supervisor and the student, but between thesis coordinator (who assigns) and the student on the one hand and thesis coordinator and supervisor on the other hand.

In our case, students get an email from the coordinator laying out the further procedure. In particular, this email states that it's the student's responsibility to set up a meeting with the assigned supervisor within a given timeframe.

The supervisor will know that you have been assigned to them, so just emailing them to say essentially the same does not help much. Every supervision trajectory will have to start with some meeting, so it is most likely that this will be the first ``real'' contact you have. Depending on your department, it is either you (most likely, IMHO) or the supervisor (less likely, IMHO) who takes the initiative to set up the meeting.

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You can write email to him, i would go like this

Respected Dr/Prof/xyz

As you may already know that i have been assigned to do my project work under your supervision. I feel honored and motivated and i am confident that under your supervision i will excel my skills and will be more productive.

I am really looking forward to meet you at any time convenient to you, so we can discuss further and i may start my graduate work.

Please suggest me the time and date for the meeting, and also advise me if there is any thing i should consider preparing for the meeting e.g. some proposal or articles etc.

thank you and i hope i will do well under your supervision.

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    Frankly, if I were the professor and I read "I have been assigned" (lower case I) and "thank you and i hope i will do" (no capitalization and lower case I), I would not be impressed at all.
    – Nobody
    Sep 5 '16 at 3:19
  • Its not to be copied and pasted, just an idea for have a look. And formal emails has to be drafted revised and approved before sending. Sep 5 '16 at 3:42
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    When you give an example of e-mail, please have it in proper English. Thanks.
    – Nobody
    Sep 5 '16 at 3:48
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    Whenever I see something starting with "respected" I automatically assume it's academic spam. This example is too long! Make it short and to the point! Writing like this lowers the chances of the mail being read to zero.
    – Gimelist
    Sep 5 '16 at 4:35
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    Cultural norms differ between countries, so this language may be appropriate depending on which country our Questioner is in. Sep 5 '16 at 9:41

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