This is a general outline of what you should include in your email when contacting potential future supervisors for conducting research.
Before you start writing
- Research what the professor is doing, and understand at least the basics of it. Trust us, the professor will be able to tell if you're not prepared.
- Read 1 or 2 of their latest papers to be able to discuss them.
Dear (choose between Dr. or Professor) _________,
- 1 sentence summary of the purpose of your email (this should be first. Professors are busy, so be direct and to the point and let them know why you're emailing right off the ba).
- Name, program, year
- What university you attend
- Start off right away with why you're interested in THEM as a supervisor
- Have any professors talked to you about them? Why did you choose them?
- Have you talked to their grad students?
- What aspects of their research are you interested?
- Quote their papers if you can!
- How did you become interested in this area of research?
- Did you hear about it in lecture?
- Did you read up on it in your own time?
- What can you contribute to their lab? (super important!)
- What courses (and of particular importance, what labs) have you taken? What skills/techniques have you been exposed to?
- If your marks for these courses are good (>A-) you should list them
- Closing paragraph: you want to talk to them and contact them.
NOTE: try and talk to the professor one on one if at all possible!!! Don't rely on email correspondence alone.
ALSO, resist the temptation to exaggerate your accomplishments or include information that is not relevant to research. The most common mistake with personal statements and cover letters is including resume information that doesn't have anything to do with what you're applying for, or that you haven't tied in to why they're relevant for your potential supervisor to know.