Hot answers tagged

277 votes

How to deal with students who submit their homework as an attachment to a completely blank e-mail?

I don't really think this is odd: they have been asked to send the assignment by email and they did. There isn't really a need to say anything further and they didn't. Maybe it would be slightly ...
242 votes

Does it violate academic social norm to email someone around midnight?

The good thing (maybe the only good thing) about email is that it's by nature asynchronous. A phone call in the middle of the night is intrusive, because there is an explicit expectation that the ...
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215 votes

Is it appropriate to email a professor saying you enjoyed their class, after doing well in it?

As my experience of being a TA for multiple courses with various profs, such personal gestures of appreciation are welcomed by the professors. I have actually heard professors refer to the email as ...
193 votes

Responding to low-key insult from lecturer

Sincerely? Let it go. The tone is also not "low-key insulting" (that means a personal disparaging attack on you), it is dismissive/snotty/irritated (do not bother me with this stuff). The thing is ...
  • 4,687
190 votes

Should I have doubts if the organizers of a workshop ask me to sign a behavior agreement upfront?

Plain and clear: Turn around and run. We know, of course, nothing about your actual event, but that kind of language and mindset is absolutely impossible. Unless you are trying to get into such ...
  • 3,815
167 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?

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-...
165 votes

Was a professor correct to chastise me for writing "Prof. X" rather than "Professor X"?

What a jerk! No, writing "Prof." is perfectly fine; his reaction is both incorrect and completely inappropriate. I cannot imagine any professor I know (even the ones I don't like) writing such a thing....
  • 54.4k
159 votes

Why would a university permit a disabled student to Gmail with university staff, in lieu of her official university email (ending in .edu or

Gmail supports accessibility features such as screen readers. Possibly those features are not supported, or not supported as well, by the university’s in-house email system. Since the directive to ...
  • 174k
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 ...
  • 51.3k
155 votes

Why do professors obfuscate their email addresses on their websites?

It's most likely to avoid Email address harvesting. There are bots that scrape webpages to pick up email addresses for spam purposes. An easy way to avoid this is write your email in a way that's ...
138 votes

Should I have doubts if the organizers of a workshop ask me to sign a behavior agreement upfront?

Should you be worried about "legal actions"? Maybe. I deem unlikely that any jurisdiction has specific laws for you not attending a workshop (of course I am not a lawyer and you never know, maybe ...
  • 4,041
135 votes

Should I have doubts if the organizers of a workshop ask me to sign a behavior agreement upfront?

SCAM! They avoid answering a valid legal question, try to make you feel bad for asking, and apply pressure to make you ignore the legal issue. If you run a con, that's how you do it. Bonus points ...
  • 3,167
126 votes

COVID-19 - how do I navigate this situation with my advisor?

As someone who's been out of academia for a while, I would like to offer a different perspective. Yes, occupying your co-advisor's attention when the roof is on fire is tone-deaf. However: you have ...
122 votes

How to deal with an inappropriate greeting in an email?

Personally, I would address it in a friendly way, but one that makes it clear that you think it's a bit of an odd form of greeting. It doesn't sound like it was intended in an unfriendly or ...
119 votes

How to deal with an inappropriate greeting in an email?

I would simply reply: Dear Student, thank you for your email -- I really appreciated it -- but in the future please avoid addressing professors in an unprofessional way, like "lass" or "lad".
  • 53.1k
113 votes

How should I tell a professor the answer to something he doesn't know?

I think there is an easy way to phrase this to make it tactful, after all professors are often curious about learning new things too! "Hello Professor X, I hope you've been well! Last year I ...
110 votes

How to reply to an email from a student who wants a reply instantly?

Two words: "Office hours." I say to students that, if they need immediate feedback, then they should come to my office hours, everything else will be processed as its turn arises. [During ...
106 votes

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) ...
  • 12.7k
105 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 ...
101 votes

Professors/Teachers only replying to part of my email

Professors are busy and receive a lot of mail (> 50 per day, not counting mass-mailings). It's rational for them to skim past the salutations and introductory parts until the end, where you usually ...
  • 34.1k
101 votes

Is it okay for a potential post doc to send an email to professor on the weekend?

Email is a form of asynchronous communication: it doesn't matter when mail is sent, it can be read whenever pleases the recipient. High-ranking professionals should not sacrifice their operational ...
  • 40.2k
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 ...
  • 40.2k
98 votes

Is it rude to ask the lecturer whether there is any “effective prerequisite”?

I wouldn't phrase it in terms of "effective prerequisites". But it's certainly fine to discuss with the professor whether you are adequately prepared. You could visit their office hours, or send an ...
98 votes

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 ...
97 votes

A staff member was rude to me in an email and made me look bad in front of other members of the staff. How should I handle this?

It sounds as if your co-worker was extremely rude, and owes you an apology, but pointing those things out in so many words is rarely productive. Instead, I would use something like the following ...
96 votes

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 ...
  • 34.4k
95 votes

Student continues to email me after I told him I would not regrade his paper. Do I need to reply?

No, you don't need to reply, but you should make sure that you retain all evidence for your decisions in the event the student complains to some higher authority. Retain the email thread as well. ...
  • 280k
93 votes

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 ...
93 votes

Is it acceptable to email an author to ask for a copy of his book that is currently out of print?

A question like this is almost always acceptable to ask. I cannot imagine that somebody will take offense at this, and I expect most academics appreciate high-school students looking for help and a ...
  • 8,108
92 votes

Is it appropriate (as a PhD student) to email other researchers asking about some details in their papers?

As a professor, I've received many emails from graduate students at other institutions over the years asking me questions about my research. Not once has any of the following thoughts ever crossed my ...
  • 174k

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