The Sassy Scientist – The Great Wall Of … Silence

The Sassy Scientist – The Great Wall Of … Silence

Luiza is an active collaborator and wants to share every piece of her progress with her colleagues. However, there are some in her email chain particularly ‘busy’. At the end of her tether, she heaves a sigh:

What to do if someone DOESN’T EMAIL BACK?

Dear Luiza,

Não se atreva tirar o cavalinho da chuva. Never give up. They’ll probably end up emailing you back. Someday. Unless … They’re writing the reply but a student walked in. Or they didn’t think a reply was needed. Or they were so excited by your results that they dove into their own research straight away. Or they’re just having a poo. Or they’re just having a cry in the bathroom. They’re at lunch, coffee or drinks. Their student just had a meltdown. Your email got into the spam folder, or you made a mistake typing the email address. They’re on holiday or at a conference. They’ve just become parents, or broke up with someone. These, and many other explanations why they did not reply 10 seconds after you sent them the email are absolutely valid reasons. It’s not like there are moments a scientists’ inbox explodes with a smattering of emails, right? Não seja boledo. It’s no good getting all heated up. Please take a chill pill. Surely you can read some papers, complete your sensitivity study or start on that presentation for next months’ work shop? It’s not like you’re waiting for constructive comments, suggestions or follow-up ideas, do you? Do you?

Sure, you’re left descascar o abacaxi. How to continue with your life, as you cannot without their reply? Option one: swing by their office. It’s hard to ignore someone when they’re staring at the back of your head. Option two (in case you don’t live close to you co-workers): send them a reminder EVERY DAY, TWICE A DAY during working hours to ensure they’ll see your email address pop up at least twice a day. Option three: email their office mates, PhD-PostDocs or supervisor and tell them to sit them down and have a talk. At first sight this may appear crude, blunt, ill-considered or -advised. How mistaken are you?! You’ll get your message out, people will know that you’re collaborating with their colleagues and maybe even want to work with you. Especially in case you slip some sizable tidbits into your reminder email. Option four: give up on them. Forget about their potential contributions to your work and move on. Rewrite your paper and submit it immediately. Done and done. Go start that new paper right away. Boa sorte!

Yours truly,

The Sassy Scientist

PS: This post was written after replaying to some emails that were forgotten about.

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I am currently employed at a first tier research institute where I am continuously working with the greatest minds to further our understanding of the solid Earth system. Whether it is mantle or lithosphere structure and dynamics, solid Earth rheology parameters, earthquake processes, integrating observations with model predictions or inversions: you have read a paper of mine. Even if you are working on a topic I haven’t mentioned here, I still know everything about it. Do you have any problems in your research career? I have already experienced them. Do you struggle with your work-life balance? Been there, done that. Nowadays, I have only one hobby: helping you out by answering the most poignant questions in geodynamics, research and life. I am waiting for you right here. Get inspired.

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