Contacting your professor after 4 months - advice

02-May-19, 14:48
edited about 14 seconds later
by Phdsuf
Avatar for Phdsuf
posted about 1 year ago
Good morning everyone!

It's been 4 months since I've started working on my PhD. Every month I'd tell myself that I will contact my supervisor after I make more progress. We did not agree beforehand on how often I am expected to update him on my progress. However, I feel that 4 months is a bit too long. Consumed by my perfectionism and self-doubt, I have prepared 30 pages so far after I have work for 6-9 hours a day for 4 months. The 30 pages are a translation of an old and complicated book. So, it takes x10 more time than a normal translation would. During that time, I have also read some books and took some notes for the study part of the research. My supervisor is a nice and understanding person, but I am now a bit ashamed to contact him. I don't know whether I should do it now or wait until the end of the month when I have, hopefully, progressed further in my research now that I know how to work on it properly. I have written this e-mail and kept it short hoping that I'd explain it all in person if I am asked to justify my progress. The professor, knowing the nature of the research and how difficult it is, might not comment on it. This is the email I wrote: (please let me know if you find it polite enough or if there's anything to be improved regarding either the language or the content)

Good evening,

Dr. (x),

I hope this email finds you well.

I am emailing you today hoping that you would kindly inform me about when it would be seemly to come to your office to update you on my progress.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

03-May-19, 09:37
edited about 6 minutes later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 1 year ago
Hi! Yes just contact him! I am surprised he hasn't contacted you! You need to make sure that you make the most of your supervision / are having regular contact, otherwise things could be really difficult if there are any difficulties / issues later on. I find it incredibly strange that a supervisor hasn't made contact with their student in 4 months (if I am understanding correctly). I would be concerned about how invested they were in me and my project, and I'd be wanting to meet up and make sure that we booked in fortnightly or monthly meetings - especially at such an early stage of the PhD.

Your email is extremely formal and polite but that is fine if that is the terms you are on with him at present (first name terms are much more typical in the UK at least). Mine would look something like this:

Hi John (or Dear John if still in the very early days of the student-supervisor relationship, or if that is how they still addressed me)

I hope this email finds you well. Could you let me know a good time when I could meet with you to update you on my progress? (or maybe: I wondered if there was a good time this week or next when we could meet to discuss my project and the plans going forward?)

Thanks and looking forward to hearing.

Best wishes

But just send it and arrange to meet asap, please! :D

All the best,
03-May-19, 09:51
edited about 8 seconds later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 1 year ago
Ps. The supervisor is there to guide you. You don't need to worry about trying to impress or hide things or justify progress so as to speak. Just be honest, share your work as frequently as possible so that he can actually provide that guidance. Some of it will be critical - and it's better to get that as soon as possible - so you can improve it sooner rather than spending excessive amounts of time and then realising things need to be done differently.


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