I'm interested in a dataset used in a scientific article, but I am not able to find this dataset on the Internet, I guess it is because the dataset was provided by NSTAR (an energy company) that no longer exists (it has merged with Eversource).

I have thought of requesting it to the corresponding author of the article, but I have never sent anything to a MIT visitant professor (female, just for the record) and I have never called a teacher of mine by its title. I think that there is not such a strict culture in Spain of calling everyone by its title. Can anyone help me in writing the letter? Will it bother her if I send such request? How should I start? What should I say about myself? How should I end the letter?


1 Answer 1


Professors are just normal humans, even at MIT. Be friendly and brief. How about this:


Request for dataset used in [article name]


Dear Professor [last name],

on page [page number] of the article "[article name]" you are referring to a dataset consisting of [elements of dataset]. I am currently working on _____ and would like to ask if you could send me this dataset for further analysis as it would help me [benefit for you, e.g. "verify your results"].

Thank you,

[your first name] [your last name]

  • 2
    Nice answer. My only suggestion would be to use the correct title: either Dr. or Professor last name. Jul 24, 2017 at 16:01
  • 2
    @RichardErickson Was about to make the same suggestion! Definitely use the correct title (I recommend Dr. if you're unsure of their professorship standing).
    – deckeresq
    Jul 24, 2017 at 16:04
  • I assumed that most people in academia don't really care about their academic titles when it comes to day to day communication and that they are only used in very formal communication. Jul 24, 2017 at 16:06
  • After reconsideration I agree with your suggestions. It is more safe and reduces the risk of offending her by not showing enough respect. I changed my proposal. Jul 24, 2017 at 16:11
  • 1
    @problemofficer If you wish to be informal, avoid the use of any title and use the [first name]. However, using the wrong (i.e., "Ms" in this case) would be insulting. My personal rule of thumb for academic writing is to be formal unless indicated otherwise. Jul 24, 2017 at 16:11

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