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been asked before

I have been asked for all sorts of things. I have had people who want to come and do a PhD with me, or spend a term as a visitor. Unless you have your own source of support, I am a little put off. The key with this sort of thing is to be really precise with what you want, and what you have to bring.
I am frequently asked for copies of published papers - these I almost always give (unless someone is asking for 10 or so at once). But when people ask for a copy of a book, I am taken aback. Books do not grow on trees and the cost the author (though not as much).
Occasionally an undergraduate or a graduate student have asked me to read something - I have tended to agree, but then they seldom deliver.


Here's what I wrote on another recent thread on this blog, about being shy/timid in philosophy:

"Michael, upthread, said "You shouldn't be shoving your work in front of people, but you do need to show up so they're aware of you and look you up." For what it's worth, I've had some success making connections by (politely, unassumingly) shoving my work in front of people via email. Word is that before the internet age philosophers would send physical article offprints to other philosophers who might be interested in the work. I don't see why it should now be socially verboten to do the same via email. Some people'll ignore you (which is totally fine!), but some people'll engage--which is great for those anxious types among us who want to talk philosophy with people we don't yet know without having to awkwardly network at conferences."



To follow up on "been asked before", I'd be explicit and get to the point. Don't do what undergraduates do, e.g. "Hi. Here's my paper. Can you give me feedback?" For each of these, in one sentence, I'd tell someone: (a) what about their work prompted me reaching out, (b) the specific idea I wanted feedback on, and possibly (c) what I could do for them. I would write an email like "Hi. We haven't met before, but I loved your paper X on Y. I'm working on Y too. Your idea Z is interesting, but raises issue W. I was thinking you could solve W by doing T. I was wondering what you thought of that idea and if you'd be interested in chatting more sometime."

I mean, I'm sure if you send out enough emails at least a few people will reply to "Here's my paper, can you help me with my work?", but I would be shocked if emails that get to the point and make a contribution don't receive much better responses.

Mike Titelbaum

Not quite sure how to frame this point, but sometimes people ask me to read their papers, I say I will, I fully intend to, and then months go by and I just don’t find the time. I always feel guilty about it, and it’s never anything personal. As far as advice goes, if someone says they’ll read something for you, and then you don’t hear back, please don’t assume that the person is ill-intentioned or is trying to blow you off, and (at least if it’s me), feel free to send a follow up email checking in after a few months,

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