Questions tagged [communication]

Questions about how to communicate with others appropriately and professionally; communication etiquette.

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93
votes
15answers
42k views

Should I report a PhD student’s incompetence to their supervisor?

I had a short exchange of mails with a PhD student who wished to ask some questions about a paper of mine, which was troublesome in many respects: The student had a blatant lack of basic knowledge ...
82
votes
13answers
16k views

Why do academics frequently write very short email replies?

Why do many academics write short replies to emails? For example, I write Professor MK some polite email with salutation, etc., just polite and decent email. MK then responds like this: OK, MK ...
76
votes
10answers
12k views

I found an error in my exam that caused me to lose time on other questions, resulting in a lower grade. How can I appeal?

I'm a student in college, and while I was taking a linear algebra exam, I noticed that there was a mistake in the last exercise. Our exam is composed of two parts: multiple questions and exercises. ...
76
votes
5answers
15k views

My supervisor misjudges my knowledge

I started working on my master thesis a few weeks ago. When I talk to my supervisor and try to discuss new ideas she always starts to explain very basic material that is only tangentially related. ...
73
votes
11answers
17k views

Is it inappropriate to tell my students to check their school email?

I am a new STEM faculty member at a primarily undergraduate institution. I emailed my students (through the school-mandated online course management system) before the beginning of the term about the ...
72
votes
13answers
26k views

How to tell speakers that their English is terrible?

I just had a lecture from someone who has been a senior scientist (and has completed a PhD, post-doc) at a hospital for already 15 years. So I'm assuming this person is experienced in giving talks in ...
64
votes
1answer
6k views

How should I phrase an important question that I need to ask a professor?

When needing to ask a professor about something important and potentially delicate, what is an appropriate way to phrase the question or write the email? Examples include: Requesting a ...
61
votes
18answers
19k views

How to respond to a professor who was insulted by an email detailing mistakes in the exercise? [closed]

I am an undergraduate student. Preparing the solution to an exercise regarding computer assembly language programming I discovered an error in the program skeleton that was given to us to base our ...
58
votes
5answers
16k views

Dean will not tell me what upcoming meeting is about. What do I do?

I am a tenured professor and co-chair at a small teaching college. I received an email last Friday morning from the head of facilities requesting confirmation of my attendance at a meeting for this ...
58
votes
11answers
10k views

What can professors do to encourage properly written email messages from students?

(Motivated by https://academia.stackexchange.com/questions/55082/hey-i-was-wondering-of-your-students-write-like-this) The writing style probably [stems] from the electronic age of text messaging. In ...
55
votes
7answers
10k views

My student told me his mother has cancer, what do I do?

Today I saw that one of my students in the class was looking very sad. He sat down at the end of class and he looked like he was in a bad mood. After all the students left the classroom I called him ...
54
votes
3answers
6k views

How to move your field away from a widely accepted practice that has a catastrophic error?

My sub-field has been haunted by the fact that for slightly over fifty years the key foundation of everything we do has been in empirical dispute. The empirical anomalies have generated tens of ...
52
votes
10answers
20k views

Is asking your PhD supervisor a basic question considered inappropriate?

I've done my Master's degree in Computational Mathematics. Then, because of several reasons, I decided to pursue my Ph.D. in the field of Quantum Chemistry. The problem is, obviously, my lack of ...
48
votes
9answers
8k views

How should a non-native English presenter respond to a question they did not understand?

I'm not an English native speaker, and my question is, probably, only relevant for non-native speakers. Sometimes, native speakers just don't care how easily the presenter can understand the ...
43
votes
3answers
3k views

Hiring an academic researcher to implement an algorithm in a paper they wrote

I recently joined a technology startup company where a key business value-proposition depends on solving certain various problems that no current business competitor solves. There is one particular ...
42
votes
9answers
12k views

How should I ask a potential advisor why they haven't published in the last 3 years?

I'm using a throwaway account for privacy. I know professors are human beings and "I can just ask", but, as this is the start of the relationship, I don't want to seem rude - or to seem that I am ...
42
votes
14answers
16k views

My advisor said that I should be more modest, and we should meet more often. Should I tell him about my impostor syndrome? If yes, mail or personal?

I am a PhD student in Europe, currently in my second year, and I have some attitude problems concerning my work. I really want to work on my problem, that's fine, but what bothers me is the following....
39
votes
3answers
10k views

How should a student deal with personal criticisms from an assistant professor?

I am a PhD student. In the past I have met with an assistant professor for some general advice about my research, both times he has made off the cuff comments on my lack of competence as a researcher ...
39
votes
5answers
5k views

How to handle an advisor who communicates badly and puts me in a bad position as a result?

I'm frequently put in an awkward position by my advisor: he communicates pretty badly (vague, doesn't give enough information, isn't clear with what he wants, references things that could mean many ...
39
votes
5answers
4k views

Am I helping my graduate students too much?

As a new university professor, I have been informally tasked with making sure the MSc students in my program are prepared for their dissertations, by prepping them in my research methods course. My ...
38
votes
2answers
2k views

How do I politely and tactfully tell my advisor that I would like more consistency in meetings?

I am a PhD student. My advisor is great, but like all academics is very busy (administrative duties, other students, research...). What happens almost every time I try to have a meeting, since the ...
37
votes
11answers
14k views

Was my student being disrespectful by using shouting language in her email to me?

I have a PhD in statistics and teach statistics for humanities students in a university. One week before the start of the semester I posted all the required information regarding the course textbook, ...
37
votes
6answers
15k views

Is it rude to use tracking softwares for the emails that you send to potential advisors?

A considerable portion of emails that I send to professors abroad to see if they have any position available remains unanswered. Not receiving a response, I can not imagine if they didn't attract to ...
37
votes
8answers
7k views

Is it fine to send a message to the author of a paper if I don't understand something and want to clarify it?

I'm a Physics Ph.D. student and I have been studying one paper and had some doubt in one point. More specifically the author defines a concept in a way which is a little bit different from other texts ...
37
votes
4answers
7k views

Should I email old supervisor about my progress?

I might collaborate with an old supervisor in the future and would like to keep in touch. Is it a good idea to send an email to him about the progress I've made in my career? Also, what's the best ...
36
votes
14answers
7k views

How do you enforce handwriting standards for homework assignments as a TA?

I am a TA who is helping to grade student homework assignments for an undergrad engineering course which involves a lot of mathematics. The homeworks all together count for miserly 5% and is only ...
36
votes
6answers
30k views

Professional ways of saying “Keep me in the loop in case you have some other projects I may be able to contribute to”

I’m a student and I’ve been visiting a collaborator of my advisor to work on a project. The visiting period ends in a few days and it has been productive and enjoyable. We have worked well together, ...
36
votes
6answers
8k views

Department member forwarded complaint about professor to that professor

I am an undergraduate at a US college. I wanted to take a course in a specific area of my major so that I could do better research during the summer. I do not have the prerequisite courses but I have ...
36
votes
7answers
3k views

Telling a former supervisor you don't want to publish

I graduated from my PhD in the middle of last year and have since landed a full time job in industry. Currently I'm pretty ran off my feet with work, but I'm also enjoying having free time at weekends ...
35
votes
7answers
11k views

A lecturer is hard to understand, what to do?

I have a lecturer at university that I find very hard to understand. My lectures are taught in English, but my lecturer is of East Asian origin, and English is not his first language. I find the ...
33
votes
8answers
5k views

Is it possible for people with a stutter to have a career in academia?

I understand that it is difficult for people with stuttering to verbally communicate and explain their ideas/research or to give lectures. Does that means there is no chance for them to work in ...
32
votes
10answers
9k views

Is it necessary for a grad student to respond to phone calls, as long as they're responsive on email?

I am asking this for a friend who hopes to enter grad school for a PhD next year in science. This person has a cell phone but almost always turns it off and has no voice mail (meaning there is no way ...
31
votes
7answers
10k views

Just starting in grad school, I haven't heard from my advisor in three weeks …

I just started grad school this year. I met with my advisor over three weeks ago, on the first week of school. We talked about the school, she told me a bit about the department and showed me around ...
31
votes
6answers
8k views

Journal editor made bad edits to my (accepted) paper - how do I respond?

Earlier this year I had a paper accepted to a well-recognized journal in a particular (humanities) subfield. I finally received proofs of the article, and was (more than a bit) upset at the edits. A ...
30
votes
4answers
11k views

How can I politely tell a student that I already support him several times and that is enough?

I have a student who sends me emails twice a week showing me his updated dissertation. At first I supported him a lot. But he literally does what I say word by word and never goes beyond what I tell ...
29
votes
5answers
10k views

How should I address my two supervisors (one man, one woman) in an email?

I am currently doing a PhD. My professor, which is my first supervisor, is a man. My second supervisor is a woman and works for my first supervisor. The etiquette and the courtesy, at least in my ...
28
votes
3answers
4k views

Should I inform my professor of a very recent paper vaguely related to his research?

I'm currently an undergrad student and have found a recent paper, published in Nature a few days ago, that represents a huge breakthrough in its field (I'm active in that area, so I'm aware of it), ...
27
votes
2answers
4k views

Leaving academia for financial reasons - how to communicate the reason of departure in a professional manner?

I recently finished my PhD and continued to work at the same department as assistant professor. Amid lack of funding, and other academic joys, the department went an extra mile to procure my contract ...
26
votes
2answers
5k views

How to politely inform potential PhD supervisor that I must wait before responding to an offer? (Two-body problem)

I am a physics student in the UK. A university (university A) has made me a PhD offer. The email from admissions was very clear that there is a 30-day time limit on this offer. As it happens I am ...
26
votes
2answers
855 views

How should academics handle communication with the media?

I'm not famous enough of a scientist to be frequently solicited by the media* (plus my field has little political/social controversy around it), but I had a few encounters with local newspapers and ...
25
votes
4answers
1k views

Dealing with irresponsiveness from far-away scientists

When meeting some scientists in person, I've had good conversations with decisions upon interesting plans for research cooperation and personal visits. But then, subsequent contact by e-mail is ...
24
votes
5answers
6k views

How can I deal with a professor who refuses to communicate?

Required information: Germany, maths, and undergraduate Situation: In order to finish my undergraduate degree, I have to do one final oral exam with two professors (A & B). However, A and B refuse ...
24
votes
7answers
6k views

I expect much more commitment from my PhD-supervisor. How do I communicate this to him?

I am a doctoral student in economics and have problems with the progress of my doctoral thesis because my supervisor hardly cares about my work. I currently need some feedback and comments from him, ...
23
votes
5answers
2k views

Obstacles to collaborative research between experimentalists, theorists, and computational researchers

As an undergrad, I'm just starting to get a feel for the academic world. Obviously, the ability to communicate well in a collaborative relationship is extremely important. As a fledgling STEM ...
23
votes
4answers
2k views

How to pick the brain of a professor with whom you have no connection

I want to learn more about a specific part of a narrow, fledgling field. I want to have a 30 minute conversation with a the burgeoning experts in this area of study -- they are all researchers at ...
23
votes
3answers
4k views

How to address a professor that makes offensive comments (that they don't realize are offensive)?

I am currently in a financial accounting class with a professor that has used offensive (in my opinion) commentary in her lectures since my first exposure. Examples of comments she makes: Financial ...
22
votes
5answers
7k views

How to deal with the (hidden) feedback from research supervisor?

I am a PhD student who works in a theoretical field. Often times, I have discussions with my research supervisor, and I try to do as much work as possible. It seems that many times these days my ...
22
votes
7answers
5k views

Is it fine to exclude an email salutation for short messages?

I've had a habit of always starting with "Dear Prof. X" but have noticed professors sometimes drop the header past the first reply. For shorter emails, is it polite to omit these formalities ...
21
votes
9answers
16k views

How to tell a professor at a foreign university politely and impressively that I can’t cover the costs of living for my PhD?

When asking for an opportunity to do a PhD with a professor at a foreign university, he replied: As a prerequisite you would need to take care of your own funding to cover the costs of your entire ...
21
votes
9answers
29k views

Is it appropriate to say “hi” to a professor in email?

There is a professor with whom I've taken two courses so far, and who has also agreed to write me a reference letter for graduate school when I complete my undergraduate program. I usually write to ...

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