I'm interested in a graduate program, and I've identified a topic and idea that I have in mind for research. However, the related papers have been co-authored by two professors in the same department, who also head the related research labs together, as well. I want to contact them about research opportunities.

How would I go about emailing them? What's the right etiquette?

  • Email both of them individually
  • CC both of them in one intro email
  • Choose one of them and email only them

Any help is appreciated. Thanks!

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From what you've said, it sounds like they're of equal status and you've given no indication that the work you may want to do is likely to be of more obvious relevance to one than the other.

As long as this is the case I would suggest contacting them both in an initial email. If you're looking to arrange a meeting with them then you could mention that you're happy to meet with them individually or as a pair.

Contacting them both at once gives you the benefit of increasing the chance that you'll get a response, while it provides them the opportunity to decide for themselves which of them (if not both) maintains contact with you. Furthermore, even if you only get into a dialogue with one of them, because you've copied in both from the beginning the other should be able to track what's been discussed.

If my initial assumption is incorrect and it's obvious that one of them may be more relevant to your interests (e.g., if one is the "theory-person" and the other is the "methodology-person") then you may want to consider contacting that one individually, but even still I would suggest there are advantages to approaching both at once.

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  • It's hard to decide which one of them is the (theory/methodology)-person, since both of them have co-authored numerous papers in that field. They even co-head two research labs. My initial hunch was that it might be beneficial to contact them both together, but I wasn't sure if that was would be ok. Thanks for your ideas and suggestions! – arvindch Sep 9 '16 at 8:57
  • Also, should I address why I've emailed them together, in the email? Maybe explain it's because they've co-authored the papers? – arvindch Sep 9 '16 at 9:04
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    @shadow Yeah, I would say that I was contacting them because of my interest in the work they've both been involved in. – Ian_Fin Sep 9 '16 at 9:16

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