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Répondez S’il Vous Plaît

Sometimes it’s really hard to get responses from professors and other professionals other than your adviser about either information you need or data they said they would provide to you. How do you politely keep contacting/bugging others for information/data, and how do you do so in a way that actually gets results? —Anonymous

This is a perennial issue. Sometimes you do really need to be persistent. It can be tricky to walk the fine line between diligence and pestering. Here’s one suggestion: don’t just ask for the information or data, offer something in return. Perhaps what you offer is to send the results of your study or your paper to the professor; or perhaps you offer to present a mini-lecture in one of their classes on your research. Also, be sure to ask if/how the professor would like to be acknowledged. It is also important to say something about a timeline: “I am hoping to incorporate the data you have offered to share for my project within the next two weeks. Does that time frame work for you?”

// Thank you to Rebecca Aanerud, Associate Dean of the Graduate School and Senior Lecturer and Associate Dean of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, this week’s guest guru! //

Ask the Grad School Guru is an advice column for all y’all graduate and professional students. Real questions from real students, answered by real people. If the guru doesn’t know the answer, the guru will seek out experts all across campus to address the issue. (Please note: The guru is not a medical doctor, therapist, lawyer or academic advisor, and all advice offered here is for informational purposes only.) Submit a question for the column →