I have been rejected by a particular university for MS two times now. I really want to get into it to work with a professor. I am thinking of emailing him to ask him what I can do to improve myself to become acceptable. I am trying to improve myself on various fronts that I can think of, so I would like ask him if I am on right path. I am a first generation student and I have no guide to ask, so he is that only one I can think of, to ask these questions. What would be the proper subject line for this? Right now I have “Help needed to improve myself” as subject. In the body, I will explain my situation and ask him if he could give me some of his time. What would be the proper way to proceed in asking for his help?

I just submitted an article in a special issue. This article is based on a talk given in a conference, and we received a discount. So after I submitted the article, the website told me to contact the editorial office about the discount. How shall I write the letter? It is the first time for me to do this kind of thing, please suggest some sample letters.

I also want to point it out that in the website of the special issue, it is clearly stated that all papers in the issue will be published free of charge. Does this mean that it is not necessary to contact the editorial office? If so, why is it that after the submission, I still got the suggestion to contact the office?

Thank you!

This question is a variation of this canonical question about how to ask a Professor an important question. That question is presently used as a duplicate for many questions on Academia.SE, but it is often used as a duplicate for questions about matters that are not actually important. The present question is designed to give a canonical question about communicating unimportant matters.


Question: Suppose you need to communicate with an academic about some ordinary academic matter that is not especially important. Perhaps this is a standard administrative or pedagogical matter that academics deal with commonly as part of their job, or some other question that would not be regarded as being out-of-the-ordinary for the academic you are dealing with. Examples of the types of matters I have in mind are the following (non-exhaustive list):

  • Asking for advice on an academic topic;
  • Asking for a review of my mark in an assessment;
  • Asking an academic to teach me something in their field of expertise;
  • Asking to apply for/withdraw from some academic program or course;
  • Asking about the present status of an application or assessment task;
  • Asking if an academic is interested in research collaboration;
  • Turning an academic down for a position/research topic, etc.;
  • Following-up on a matter where we have already had previous contact; or
  • Thanking an academic for their help on a matter.

We all know that academics are basically demi-gods, and so communicating with them requires adherence to strict protocols, similar to kowtowing to an Emperor. With these kinds of examples in mind, what is the method of communication and the magical words that I should use to prevent a major diplomatic incident when communicating with a Professor on a common academic matter?

A couple of months ago, I defended my Master’s thesis and got graduated. One of the referees, a professor of mine with a history of verbal contentions between us, did me an overt injustice and despite all my efforts, attacked me with her unfair judgement. I got angry and sent her an e-mail the other day, one could say explicitly offensive and disrespectful, implying her lack of knowledge and her biased criticisms. I also commented on her wasting too much time in social networks, rather than doing academic research.

I may have gone too far obviously for I heard she burst into tears after reading the e-mail, and has notified almost all other professors about it.
As a professor, do you still believe I have a chance to apologize the lady and ask for her forgiveness? If in her shoes, would you expect an apology e-mail or you’d prefer no more words from the arrogant student? If yes, what would you prefer to hear in the regret letter? And do you evaluate my reaction as provocative?

I’m hosting an academic competition, and I need to get the word out to any peers that may be interested in participating. My advisor told me to search for academic mailing lists, but I can’t find any. What are the best venues to get the word out about academic information? I’m particularly interested in publicizing the competition throughout the USA and Brazil, but any advice is warmly welcomed.

Clarification: My objective is not spamming or any kind of malicious activities. The same way that conferences and activities are spread by someone inside the universities, I would like to reach to reach a wide audience to invite them to participate in the competition, with pure academic interests—specially since the competition is part of an international conference.

The topic is related to machine learning. But any tips for any kind of topic are welcome.

I’m hosting an academic competition (I also made a post on Kaggle but we are not to host it there), and I need to spread it to any fellows that may be interested in participating. My advisor told me to search for academic mailing lists, but I can’t find any. What are the best venues to divulge academic information? I’m particularly interested in spreading the competition throughout the USA and Brazil, but any advice is warmly welcomed.

Clarification: My objective is not spamming or any kind of malicious activities. The same way that conferences and activities are spread by someone inside the universities, I would like to reach to reach a wide audience to invite them to participate in the competition, with pure academic interests—specially since the competition is part of an international conference.

The topic is related to machine learning. But any tips for any kind of topic are welcome.

I have written a paper concerning the gathering of data for research into a certain problem. The objective of the research is to establish a path to fix the problem. The initial paper stated the problem and proposed protocols for data gathering.

Now, the data has been gathered and processed, an algorithm designed and data gathered that confirms that implementing the algorithm solved the problem.

What do I publish to conclude this project? Do I write another paper and reference the previous paper? add on to the original paper? Use appendices? What is usually done in these cases?

The paper is for internal company use only. Distribution will be among chemists, process control engineers and some technicians.

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)

I’m about to write an email to the department of an English speaking University (I’m not a native speaker) to clear up some doubts I have regarding enrollment. I have never spoken to them before. How formal should I be?

My questions: is it OK to use contractions (“I’ve… I’m…”)? Is it OK if I try to throw in one or two polite jokes or should I be strictly formal and as objective as possible? Does anyone suggest a template for such an email?

Thanks!

I’m a PhD student. A professor that I collaborate with (not from my university) asked me on two separate occasions to help with grants that were due in a week. In both cases I managed to squeeze out 20 hours to help him, and he paid me out of his own pocket (not using grant funds).

How can I tactfully ask the professor to bring requests to me earlier in the future? I guess one way is to simply decline future requests that I cannot handle. But I want to preserve goodwill when possible – I could quote him an insane hourly rate if he again approaches me at the last minute, but some people might view that as me taking advantage of the situation, even though it’s not my fault that he approached me so late. (The rumor mill can always turn white into black.) The best solution, in my opinion, is to successfully persuade him to approach me early.