If you need help with online teaching or other challenges in academia arising from the COVID-19 crisis, we have prepared this FAQ to get you started.
231

To me, this is such a non-issue that it doesn't warrant much of a response. So let me add a response :) I didn't mean to imply carelessness, and I am sorry if that's how my email came across. I was a bit overzealous in my email. I will address the errors in the skeleton program in my solution, as you have indicated. Thank you for your detailed response! ...


133

At every (US) institution I've attended or worked at, there's been an official school-wide policy that students are expected to check their school email regularly, and that sending official communications there constitutes sufficient notification. So check your school's policies; if you have such a policy, then it's certainly appropriate to remind students ...


117

A 5-paragraph email with citations for a possible mistake in an undergraduate exercise sounds, if anything, patronizing. Apologize and move on.


116

I think that your plan is based on number of possibly wrong premises. And even if they were mostly right, I doubt such a plan could have any reasonable success. Let's see my reasons. 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 ...


103

Beyond a certain point in their careers, academics (in particular tenured professors) are essentially a subspecies of managers. And managers literally receive hundreds of emails per day. Some of these indeed require a more formal response, or a lot of work before you can even compose an answer. If you get 20 emails that each require half an hour of work, 50 ...


103

My sense is that the vast majority would not notice one way or another but that some potential advisors might and would find it intrusive and and inappropriate. In many other cases, (like myself) professors use text-based email clients or systems that that block this kind of tracking. In these cases, folks won't think you're rude but you still won't know if ...


103

More years ago than I care to remember, I changed departments and started working for a new manager (NM). At the same time, another person (AP) also joined the department. My new manager put a weekly meeting on our calendars for the three of us. We would go into the meeting, and NM would start asking us what seemed to me to be really simple questions - what ...


101

As an instructor, the best you can do is to offer your condolences and tell him to just ask you if he needs anything. For example, you could offer an extension on assignments. If he needs some time off from lectures, maybe a classmate who takes good lecture notes will agree to make a photocopy, or you could get the lectures to be recorded for him. Your ...


101

Yes, it is appropriate to ask the questioner to repeat the question, prefaced by: "I'm sorry but I didn't understand the question. Can you repeat it or rephrase it?" If you still don't understand it, you might ask someone else in the audience to restate it or rephrase it. Some people at academic conferences are not good at asking clear, direct ...


99

If your colleagues in the department—presumably also PhD students—don't understand the concept, either, it doesn't strike me that the question is truly "basic." That said, if your advisor is aware of your background, then he should know that there will be some things that might not be "obvious" to you. Now, in this case, you have already "done your ...


96

Is hello acceptable, or should it be more formal (with or without academic titles)? This is a matter of (sub-)culture. Once you know what to expect, you can effectively communicate. This style is minimalist, but it tells you everything you need to know. If this bothers you, think of it this way: MK is not only saving their time, but they are also saving ...


95

Instead of a question that might be insulting, you should probably ask them what they've been working on for the past few years. You need to know that in any case and their answer might give you the reason that they haven't got anything out recently. There may be a lot of work in progress but not yet ready. That sort of thing can actually be an advantage to ...


93

This is unethical and unprofessional. It is simply none of your business. You are not in a position to evaluate the student. Writing to his supervisor will make you look bad. It is an insult to his supervisor. The Ph.D. degree can not be awarded to someone incompetent. If this happens, it is going to be shown sooner or later. Let future employers and ...


85

Go talk to the Dean prior to the meeting, and resist the urge to "reply all" to any mail that might be even remotely contentious. Email and text messages are good for exchanging facts, such as the time of the meeting. They are much less good for dealing with disagreement or even potential disagreement.


75

My advisor sent me an e-mail that he thinks that I should be more modest and that we should meet more often. Your prompt answer: Sounds good! Nothing is gained by getting defensive. (Do you know what meeting rhythm your advisor has in mind? What often works well is a standing, weekly meeting. If you have no progress to report, that's okay -- it can ...


75

By all means ask. A person who goes through the trouble of writing up lecture notes, is almost certainly a person who would be happy to answer. As someone who receives a lot of questions from PhD students myself, here are a couple of pointers for how to phrase your question. This could be obvious to you, but I know for sure that it is not obvious for ...


74

It sounds like someone is after your space. You need to be prepared to defend your space during the meeting. It sounds like the Dean is not really on your side. I would call up the other professor to see if you can get a better feel for who is attacking you and what is being attacked. I would also potentially call the head of facilities, although I would do ...


71

He may be competing with your supervisor. He may not like your general topic. He may not like you. Or, he really believes what he says. Or he wants to test you. You don't know. You have to live with people who confuse what's going on with prejudice- or agenda-coloured "truth". Practically all successful researchers have encountered such put-downs. ...


67

As a prerequisite you would need to take care of your own funding to cover the costs of your entire PhD project (4 years, cost of living, housing etc.). If you have such funds I would be happy to discuss with you the possibilities. This is the professor's polite way of saying, "We do not have funding to support you as a student. If you obtain your own ...


67

Professors are people too. There are generally no magic words or special formulas for talking to professors. That said, it is understandable that people often feel very nervous in communicating with professors because how the professor responds can sometimes have a big impact on your future. Here are some ideas about what works well. Make your ...


66

NOTE: this answer was based on the assumption that OP works at the same institution and on the same campus as the supervisor in question. OP has since clarified that is not the case. I will leave the answer to stand in case it is helpful to those in a similar situation - see meta discussion. At the risk of sounding like an old man: does no one talk to their ...


64

Now the professor wants me to apologize [...] I cannot give an honest apology. What should I reply, if anything? If you cannot give an honest apology, I suggest giving a dishonest one. This will satisfy the professor's requirement (you do not mention him insisting that your apology be sincere :-)), and, while I am one of the biggest fans of honesty that you ...


63

As with the other answers, I will echo that it's OK to not understand and to ask for somebody to repeat themselves. Even as a native speaker I often have a hard time understanding a question. Sometimes, though, it's not because the question's hard to hear, but because the reasoning behind it is odd or because the question is just not coherent to begin with....


61

hey. i was wondering of your students write like this Alas, yes, they do (however, I'm a non-native English speaker who teaches international students whose level of English is extremely varied, and there's not much I can do about grammar). Anyway, during the first lesson I give the following pieces of advice (which are frequently ignored, though): Sender ...


61

How to defend your correct ideas or claims in front of supervisor? If your advisor is anything like me, they care much less about right or wrong in these meetings, but they want to hear what your thought process is and which angles you have covered. Suggestions to try something else should not usually be understood as "you did something wrong, do this other ...


58

It was your task to ensure the book gets returned. You need to take responsibility and apologize. You can mention that you had made arrangements, which failed unfortunately. It's unlikely that the professor cares about the details. What he cares about is that he didn't get the book (that's why you apologize) and that he can rely on and trust you (that's why ...


56

My experience as a professor is exactly the opposite. I write full emails, and most often students' replies have no heading, nor greeting, nor signature.


53

I'd like to chime in as a student here. I tend to write my (initial) e-mails formally, however, many professors tend to reply in the most informal way possible. I often get replies like [sic] Sure, can you b ethere 29/8 at 10am? James to my well-crafted "Dear Dr. Jamesson" e-mails. For students, this can be confusing: if I reply, should I go for "...


53

This might be productive in a direct conversation, if you are able to establish rapport, and if you can steer the conversation in a productive direction. You could start by asking her to clarify some key point you were interested in. Stop her as soon as there's something you don't understand, and if necessary ask her to spell the word you don't understand. ...


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