Writing an Email to any Professor

In my previous post, I explained why you need to write an email(kindly check)

Now, it’s time to write; but before you write, you must answer the following questions:

How does your current research knowledge relate to the professor’s current research?

Find what connects you to the Professor. This could be your undergraduate publications (If you have). If you don’t have any research knowledge, no worries, just read the Professor’s publications and find a way to link them to your previous knowledge.

How many of the Professor’s papers have you read and what did you learn?

This is usually the core of any email. You need to tell the Professor the name of his/her paper you have read, the keywords in those papers, the problems he/she solved in the paper and the method used.

This is to show that you are a good research student. Note, you don’t need to understand all the ‘jargons’ used in the paper, but you must read the paper over and over again till you have an idea. The Professor is hiring you to produce papers for him/her. If you can mention more than one paper, this will be fantastic.

Do you have questions or other methods of improving the current research?

You can offer suggestions or ask questions based on the papers you have read. This shows that you have the ability to improve any result (This is the most important skill required of any research student). Let the Professor know that you would like to investigate these questions/suggestions in his/her lab. This will make the Professor happy (The Professor has already calculated 1-2 publications from you🤣).

What do you need from the Professor and why?

Let the professor know that a space in his/her lab is not a waste of opportunity by the way you construct the mail. Ask him/her for a skype call for further discussion. This is called ‘Intensifying opportunities’.

General Tips for Writing Email

  • Use appropriate Subject Line (E.g Prospective MSc/PhD Student, MSc/PhD Research Inquiry, etc…just be smart)
  • Use appropriate salutation e.g Dear Prof. XYZ or Dear Dr XYZ. (Don’t use Dear Sir/Ma😂)
  • The first paragraph should tell the Professor how important you are. You don’t necessarily need to Introduce yourself too much: your attached documents will do that. Put accomplishments that are research-based. (3-4 sentences).
  • The second paragraph is the most important. This is where you will fuse points 1-3 described above to form 5-7 sentences.
  • The last paragraph is where you will discuss point 4 above(2-3 sentences). In total, you should have 3 paragraphs with about 12-15 sentences.
  • Don’t sound apologetic. You are not begging for a favour, you are earning a position by showing your skills. Don’t be desperate; it’s a big turn-off.
  • Please don’t put any religious comments(e.g God bless you sir/ma). Keep them to yourself.
  • Don’t lie, don’t exaggerate your skills.
  • Show that you are part of the best in your country/continent.
  • If you can attach your CV and Test Scores as a link, it will be better. This will reduce storage space.

With this, I hope you are bold enough to write a mail?

Next time, I will give examples of emails sent to Professors and explain why those emails make/don’t make sense.

By Admin

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