I am an undergraduate student with major aspirations to go to graduate school. I am in my final year. I am currently working on a research project with 2 supervisors (1 of them marks my work and the other just signs off on it). I have meetings with one of them every couple weeks and he always tells me "send me a message whenever you have a question, there are no restrictions". So I had a question last Thursday, yet never received a response. In addition, I have a presentation tomorrow and need his approval before printing out the presentation (it's a poster) to ensure that no private data is shown. He told me to send him my presentation on Monday so I did. However, I have not heard back from him and my presentation is tomorrow. I am not sure if this is a common situation with supervisors? I know the simple solution would be to send him a reminder. However, I really don't want to make anyone angry. I will honestly "kiss up" to anyone to get into my graduate program. So I am treading carefully. If I do send him an email, how should I phrase it?

  • 10
    There's no harm in you emailing him or visiting his office and asking if he's had a chance to review the poster and reminding him that the presentation is tomorrow. I wouldn't ask why he's "ignoring you", as it's possible he didn't even see your email from last week. Given the amount of emails we get each day, it's not unheard of.
    – Inde
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 12:28
  • 5
    Follow up, always follow up. And "escalate", if you cannot reach him via email, try going to his office hours or even just come by his office randomly. Or call.
    – skymningen
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 12:39
  • 1
    Part of me wants to point out that your supervisor correctly noted that you can technically send him a message whenever you have a question. He did not say that he would answer any of them.
    – xLeitix
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 13:51

1 Answer 1


The blogger UniversityOfLies wrote in a post titled What to do When Your PhD Adviser Ignores You:

Busy [sic] Backson Syndrome (as coined by Winnie the Pooh and Benjamin Hoff)- My first adviser suffered from this. These people are Too Damn Busy flying around the world, giving lectures anywhere other than their home university, being on TV, and frolicking through the lavender fields of Provence and buying age-inappropriate accessories with Johnny Depp.

  • You are too late. If I have presentation tomorrow, I will make sure everything is prepared and checked by my supervisor 2 weeks before.

  • what now you can do since your presentation is tomorrow is:

1. Again, Write him an Email with high priority indication:

2. Meet with the department chair faculty if any available: and ask if it possible to check it with you.

3. If it all fails: print your poster and be prepared to the presentation and make sure your impress the audience

  • Thank you, this is helpful. I am always pro-active and never leave things to the "last minute". However, this research project was only 8 weeks and I would not be able to have everything done 2 weeks before. My supervisor knew that so told me to send him the presentation on Monday.
    – aspire94
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 13:36
  • @aspire94 I see...
    – Krebto
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 14:08
  • @Krebto the link to the paper by Winnie and Hof appears to be broken, or does seem not link correctly.
    – user67075
    Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 7:30

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