A collection of links on academic email etiquette

Don't email Brian and call him 'Mr Cox'. It makes him have a bad hair day. :o(

Don’t email Brian and call him ‘Mr Cox’. It gives him a bad hair day.

When I was an undergraduate student, email was still not widely used, and the idea of emailing a lecturer or professor would have been quite daunting. Times have changed however, and nowadays most academics deal with a steady stream of emails from students throughout the year. This is a good thing in many ways; it helps to break down barriers between the staff and students and can be a very efficient way to communicate. Unfortunately many students don’t follow some basic rules of general politeness when contacting staff and this leads to faculty members getting irritated, and students receiving witheringly sarcastic responses or links to let me Google that for you.

Here are a few pieces I’ve collected that set out precisely how best to communicate with your advisor, lecturer or professor. First of all, we have a guide from Wellesley College titled How to Email Your Professor, shared on Twitter by Tom Hartley. Tom also went to the bother of conducting a survey about this kind of thing, and presented the results on his blog. He highlights some interesting cultural differences, particularly between the UK and the US – well worth reading through.

Next, is another set of guidelines from Akira O’Connor, also with some interesting contributions from others in the comments.

Last is a really terrific set of slides by Cedar Riener, which you can find here. He also provides a sample ‘How to miss a class’ e-mail, with added annotations here. Brilliant.

I won’t bother repeating much of what these excellent sources suggest, except to say that the common threads through them all seem to be:

1) Be polite, and relatively formal (at least at first).
2) Don’t ask stupid questions.
3) Don’t make stupid (i.e. any) spelling and grammar mistakes.
4) For the love of all that is good and holy, get the name and title of the person you’re emailing correct.

How hard can that be, eh?

Advertisements

About Matt Wall

I do brains. BRAINZZZZ.

Posted on September 18, 2013, in Commentary, Internet, Study Skills and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: