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I'm about to contact a potential PhD supervisor which has been suggested by my current masters supervisor. They should know each other very well since they've worked on multiple joint papers before. Currently, I have a recommendation letter from my masters supervisor but I don't know if I should provide it in the first Email. I don't know if recommendation letters are something the PhD supervisor would explicitly ask for later in the process or not.

So, is it a good idea to just blindly provide a reference letter on the first contact, hoping it would impress them more?

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    No!! Just mention about your Master's supervisor. If he/she has recommended you to contact your expecting PhD supervisor, then write those sentences.... If not, then just mention that you have heard many good things about him/her research and his/her group from your Master's supervisor and also seen his work as he/she was a joint author in your Master's supervisor publications.. something like this,.... – Kay Sep 6 '17 at 2:51
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    It depends. Some potential supervisors give specific advice on what they want from a potential PhD student to be able to decide if they are interested or not on their website. If a website states something like "If you are interested in this project for your PhD, please send me a CV, motivation letter and two reference letters." then you should probably do just that. – skymningen Sep 6 '17 at 10:50
  • @skymningen That would be a "call for applications". While I agree with you, doens't seem to be the case (and that would have clear instructions). Perhaps the OP can clarify. – Fábio Dias Sep 6 '17 at 14:40
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No!

As a PhD student, I received tons of "potential phd candidates" offers on my mail, merely because I had an institutional mail. For professors, this is way, way worse. Cold e-mailing with attachments is a bad idea. It would end up on the spam/ignored folder.

Matter of fact, do not contact him yourself, ask your MS supervisor for an introduction e-mail, because coming from a known sender, it will have more chance of being read. Introductions are always better than cold calling...

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