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, but the professor has no shortage of students or collaborators.

What is a more “refined and professional” way (for lack of a better term) to phrase the following message:

Keep me in the loop in case you have some other projects I may be able to contribute to.

I have a class project coming up, the professor asked us to form groups of 6. Everyone in class seems to know each other and have already started forming groups. Unfortunately, I don’t know anyone in that class. I would like to know how can I email my professor about assigning me to a group? I am an international student so I am not really sure how to address this.

I am currently a master student at university A after having done my bachelor at university B. The class sizes are small in this field, so I am quite close to teachers at both universities. I want my old teacher at university B to be my advisor in my future PhD, because the research I intend to do fits slightly better with his own work, and he will be much better at advising me with other directions of research (based on my experiences so far). However, my current teacher has a lot of knowledge in some subfield which will be relevant for at least part of the research project, so my intended advisor and I would like him to be participating as co-advisor.

How do I tell my current teacher I want him to be co-advisor? I think he expects to be my main advisor and obviously want to remain on good terms.

Note: I have seen How do I tell my current research advisor I want to work in a related field with another professor?, but I feel this is a more complicated situation since I still want my current teacher to participate in the project.

A couple of weeks back I sent an email to a professor in a University in my home country with whom I have never known on any personal or professional level. My intention was to seek potential collaborations with him as a recent graduate with a BSc should I return home.

He did replied and to which I responded. One of his question to me was whether I am happy to collaborate without being paid to which I replied, “Yes, I am happy but I am only able to work on any project outside of standard office hours due to foreseeable industry commitment”.

Since then, I have not received any replies.

Would it be appropriate for me to ring him up?

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 been well together, but the professor has no shortage of students or collaborators.

What is a more “refined and professional” way (for lack of a better term) to phrase the following message:

Keep me in the loop in case you have some other projects I may be able to contribute to.

I am currently working as a teaching assistant.

My tasks this semester include writing/putting together a formula sheet containing a lot of formulas and some graphs that the students should not have to memorize.
This sheet will be used in the final exam.

A student recently send an e-mail asking whether he should print it out himself or will be given a copy upon taking the exam. Since I am not responsible for the exam or anything grading-related, this mail should have been addressed to the professor, since I can only guess
(although I am fairly certain it would not be useful to let students bring the sheets themselves and thus giving them a chance to alter them).

Now how I see it, I have the following options:

  • Forward the e-mail to my professor.
  • Answer the student vaguely, recommending to mail the professor.
  • Contact the professor; ask him what to do.

I’m unsure whether forwarding this mail would be appropriate. I’d also feel stupid for asking the professor about something that should be obvious.

Which of the outlined possibilities would be the most efficient, yet still appropriate way to go?


About a year ago, I left a research team that I was involved with as a student for approximately 2 years. During this time, I did a variety of unpaid internships and paid scholarships as well as doing a year long research project for my degree with them. Throughout the 2 years, I was working with them towards writing and submitting a paper about the work I was doing.

After I had finished my degree, I asked to stay on as a member of staff. Whilst they were interested, they unfortunately could not offer me a job so I had to look elsewhere as I couldn’t simply work for free forever. I soon after received a job at another institute and made plans to leave. Before I left, the paper we were looking to submit was in its final stages of completion. I had written a fully referenced draft, completed all of the figures and done all of the stats on the data. We were planning to submit within weeks of me leaving.

Note: I had left on excellent terms with them and they were very happy for me that I had managed to find work.


However, it’s now been close to a year and things still have not moved. I’ve emailed them 4 times in past year (at least 3 months inbetween each email), telling them how things are going in my new lab and to ask if we can have an update about the paper and also asked if there’s anything I can do for it such as re-analysing data or re-working any figures. They reply with either “currently a bit bogged down with grants/other papers/etc” or “we’re aware of it and we’ll get something to you soon”.

I’ve tried not to pester them about it and I’m concerned about crossing a line by contacting them incessantly. I’d like to remain on good terms with them.

How should I approach this situation? Should I let it go and be pleasantly surprised if they contact me? Do I risk annoyance by contacting them further about it? I’m aware that yes I did leave and no it may not be in their highest priority, but it’s still a publication for their lab. There is a mutual benefit for us.

I have also considered the fact that perhaps it is not as complete as I had thought and that they need more data. But insofar they haven’t communicated anything of the sort to me.

I’d really like to have my work published. Not just for ego reasons, but I will be most likely applying for some pretty competitive PhD scholarships this year so would also like to have at least a first author publication under my belt.

I am involved in an extracurricular university-affiliated activity for which I want to do an analysis involving computational fluid dynamics (CFD). There is a professor at my university who has much experience in this area and I would like to reach out to them to ask for suggestions on learning more about using CFD, and hopefully discuss it with them to get feedback on this particular project. I would also like to get involved in this professor’s research, however, this project would be a priority for me, so I would like to express that I would like help on this particular project as well as my interest in research.

I know the basic pointers for reaching out to a professor about research, but how can I express both of my requests at once? Would it be more effective to only request some guidance on the project? Would it come across rude asking for guidance as well as ask to get involved in their research?

Earlier in my undergrad I co-authored a paper with one of my professors. Initially it was supposed to be just a class project, but on his suggestion I did some more work and went with it at a student conference and then with substantial help from his part we managed to further expand the topic and write an article which has been published on a (small) national journal.

A few months ago I took part in a problem solving contest for undergrads. Among the problems there was one which was quite interesting, basically made out of two parts. I got the highest score on the problem, but barely did any work on the second part. I tried looking in the literature and while there are many references about the general concept, nothing about the specific version presented on the contest (I should point out that there is nothing trivial about it, i.e. the solution and the implications are different from anything I found so far). This seems like a nice opportunity for a paper, and I think I could actually get it solved with some additional help. I was thinking about proposing this to the professor that was my co-author on my first paper, but I’m not really sure how to approach him, as the synopsis for the first one was totally different from this case. To make matters more complicated, we got some money out of the first paper (not much and it was his initiative to apply for the prize), and I also received a scientific performance scholarship for it, and I don’t want him to feel/think that I’m trying to do research for the sake of money.

So, how should I formulate my e-mail in order to make him understand that I see an opportunity for an article but without seeming like I’m desperate?

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 recommendation letter
  • Asking for exceptions to policy (e.g., ignoring a course prerequisite, rescheduling an exam)
  • Asking if you can do research with them, join a group, get into a program
  • Scheduling a meeting, exam, or defense
  • Letting them know about a change of plans
  • Letting them know about a life event affecting your work or studies (e.g., wedding, funeral, sickness, vacation)