How to email strangers who work in your academic area?
May 29, 2012 12:31 PM Subscribe
[Grad School Filter] “Hello more-established stranger who already did the academic research I wanted to do and my committee is making me email you…” Does anyone have any verbage that seems graceful and appropriate?
posted by powerbumpkin to Education (11 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Immediately following my dissertation proposal defense, I discovered a research monograph that does exactly what I had wanted to do! The authors conducted qualitative interviews on exactly my topic of interest. At first I was a little threatened by this, but then I realized:
1. They are in the UK and I am in the US. My work will automatically be “original” because it is conducted in the U.S.
2. I could easily think of some extensions to their work that I would like to add on. In fact their foundational work helped me to think of these extensions. The extensions are probably going to be the real meat of the refocused dissertation, though I intend to replicate some of their stuff as well.
3. They use a really cool method of getting at some of the information I want. I have stolen their method and begun using it in interviews.
My dissertation committee has suggested I get in contact with them. This is probably a dumb question, but how should I word such an email? Partly I’m having trouble reaching out because I don’t know what the point of it is, I mean is it for:
Praising their previous work?
Soliciting feedback on my proposal, goals, hypotheses, methods?
Asking questions about their data?
Asking permission to borrow and cite their research method?
Asking for other literature I may not be aware of?
Am I missing anything? I guess it is for all these things, but maybe not all at once. Maybe over a year long correspondence? My question is how do I initiate contact without seeming insane or something.
Can anyone offer some “hello more established stranger who already did what I wanted to do (and my committee is making me email you)” verbage that seems graceful and appropriate?