232 votes

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

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 ...
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  • 901
168 votes
Accepted

How to react to some students who book an appointment and do not show up?

Back when this was something I had to deal with, I would: Always have something to do if someone doesn't show up for their appointment, or if their question gets resolved very quickly. Write brief ...
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  • 6,882
167 votes
Accepted

Why did I receive a negative response from a professor when emailing about course content and prerequisites of a course I am considering taking?

There is nothing inappropriate (that anyone can see here) in the way that you've written your email. The response from the professor suggests that they're some combination of (a) incredibly time-...
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165 votes
Accepted

What is the best practice to deal with students who sit in the back and laugh at other students' questions?

In my opinion, you should take this seriously. What you are observing is bullying. The students that are asking questions, and trying to participate, need to know that you have their back. For example,...
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  • 10.1k
156 votes

What does this professor mean by saying "I do not have time to respond"

Keep in mind a very simple rule: Professors are human beings Many of the questions on this site seem to assume from the outset that faculty are strange, mysterious and mercurial creatures, whose ...
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  • 51k
133 votes

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

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 ...
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117 votes

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

A 5-paragraph email with citations for a possible mistake in an undergraduate exercise sounds, if anything, patronizing. Apologize and move on.
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  • 52.4k
117 votes

How to tell speakers that their English is terrible?

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 ...
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  • 52.4k
116 votes
Accepted

If I ask a question that turns out to be something basic I'm missing can it damage my reputation?

No, asking reasonable questions won't damage your reputation -- and even a few unreasonable ones won't do any real damage, especially as a young grad student. Still, I recommend that you start by ...
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  • 50.9k
112 votes

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?

How could I tell him to upgrade my grade and explain to him that I really deserve it and that I really need to have (19/20) so I can pass my semester? Don't tell him how to fix the error, and don't ...
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107 votes
Accepted

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

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 ...
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  • 14.9k
106 votes

Why do academics frequently write very short email replies?

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 ...
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106 votes
Accepted

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

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) ...
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  • 12.7k
104 votes

My supervisor misjudges my knowledge

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 ...
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  • 10.6k
103 votes

Is giving condolences to a professor socially acceptable?

It's not merely perfectly fine (e.g., in the U.S.), but a very good thing to do. (Conceivably in other cultures it could be construed as too intrusive, we must acknowledge.)
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  • 80.2k
101 votes
Accepted

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

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 ...
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  • 7,193
99 votes
Accepted

Is asking your PhD supervisor a basic question considered inappropriate?

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 ...
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  • 171k
99 votes

Why did I receive a negative response from a professor when emailing about course content and prerequisites of a course I am considering taking?

Your language isn't the problem, your email is well-written, but you've seemingly wasted the professor's time. You could have looked up the information, as they have explained: You may see course ...
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  • 40.1k
98 votes
Accepted

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

For a one-off or short-term rudeness, my policy is to respond with pure facts, served chilled. If you have a good instinct for delivering comebacks at just the right level, a hint (but just a hint) of ...
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97 votes
Accepted

Why do academics frequently write very short email replies?

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 ...
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95 votes

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

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 ...
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  • 1,469
95 votes
Accepted

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

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 ...
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  • 258k
93 votes
Accepted

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

Hierarchy beats Gender in Germany In a professional context in Germany, hierarchy beats gender, at least according to the Knigge, which is an etiquette guide of nontrivial influence. This goes as far ...
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92 votes
Accepted

My interview went well but at the end the interviewer said "All the best for your future endeavours". What does it mean?

It doesn't mean anything, it's just a pleasant remark. When you are accepted or rejected for the job, you will be notified formally, not by vague remarks at the end of an interview. In the meantime, ...
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85 votes

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

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 ...
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  • 25.1k
83 votes

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

No, "shouting" in an email isn't "normal". And, yes, it might imply disrespect. But I think that, given everything else you say, it is more likely that it indicates extreme PANIC ...
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  • 258k
83 votes
Accepted

Misgendered by senior academic in email to people I don't know

First, I think it may be useful to note that in academic collaborations where folks haven't met in person, misgendering often happens even to people who are not trans, due to ambiguity and cultural ...
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  • 180k
82 votes
Accepted

Regret after not being able to solve a problem that my supervisor did easily

"You wouldn't worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do" --- Eleanor Roosevelt. You can relax; for experienced academics, the baseline expectation is ...
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  • 43.5k
80 votes

What is the best practice to deal with students who sit in the back and laugh at other students' questions?

I'm afraid my response would not be as diplomatic as those suggested in the other answers. This concerns last year undergraduate students. You are dealing with adults. Moreover, you are dealing with ...
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