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Before you email me, read this!

I welcome email from curious people with similar research interests, especially if you are a member of an underrepresented or marginalized group. However, professors tend to get a high volume of email, so I sometimes get very behind on replying. I try to apply the GTD Method to my inbox, meaning that I first do a “processing” step to try to understand each message’s action item, then prioritize those actions and do them, which can take several weeks.

Keeping this in mind, here are a few tips that will increase your chances of a timely response:

  • If you are a student who wants to work with me on research, skip email altogether and use the POEM Application Form instead. If I don’t respond within a week, you can follow up by email.
  • If I know you already and you need to meet with me 1:1, skip email and book a meeting with me.
  • If you need me to take a specific action, please phrase your request in terms of an action and a deadline (even if the deadline is made up by you on the spot). For example:
    • BAD: “We need your input on X. [Several paragraphs explaining X]”
    • GOOD: “We need your signature on this document to move forward. Please return the signed form, or reply to this email with any questions or concerns, by April 1.”
  • Provide context for how I know you or, if I don’t know you, for how you know of me. If you are a Northeastern student, or an accepted prospective Ph.D. student, please include that information.
  • Keep it short! Once your email gets beyond two paragraphs, shift to scheduling a short meeting on my booking page.
  • In general, I do not provide for free the service of giving detailed feedback on written text (exceeding 1 page in length) unless you are one of my established mentees, colleagues, or close friends. If you would like to pay me a consulting fee to provide this service, we can discuss it.
  • If you are requesting my service as a reviewer or committee member, please specify all relevant actions that will be asked of me and deadlines or date ranges where my presence will be needed.
  • If you are inviting me to speak somewhere, please clarify whether I can participate remotely, and, if not, whether travel and lodging costs will be included. Also, specify what honorarium will be provided. (I will consider speaking without an honorarium for venues/seminars that are community-driven and lack a budget, so please include this information if relevant.)
  • Please expect delays in my reply, especially if you write to me about something I care a lot about! It usually takes me longer to formulate replies when I care a lot about getting them right, and to make decisions when I am taking the decision seriously.
  • That said, if you don’t hear back after about a week (or if you need a response sooner than that!), please don’t hesitate to send me a nudge or a reminder. I will never consider this rude.

My email address is: context.adventure [@] (google’s mail service)