Notes for undergraduates

This has been in my email signature for the last year or so.

If you email me, please say your full name, level and, if relevant, which course(s) you are referring to. Although you know what “the lecture” or “the coursework” refers to, I may not. If you refer to an article, book or a webpage, please give the full reference and/or URL so that I know what you are talking about. Similarly, if you include a citation (surname, date) in a piece of writing, please include the full reference (in APA style) at the end.

It is important that you leave the University of Sheffield in the habit of writing formally to people. I may not be bothered by you not including an introduction to your email, or by you not signing it, but many people you write to will be. You should also make an effort to capitalise, punctuate and spell correctly in your email. Again, although I may not judge you negatively if you fail to do this, many people will, so you should practice the habit of taking care over these things when you write.

If you are a PSY241 student, please read this before emailing me

If you need a response by a particular time, it helps if you mention this in the email. If you have an urgent query (i.e. requires a response within 48 hours) email is not appropriate. Please call instead.

I do not read my email over the weekend, or after 5pm.

Answers to most of the questions I get asked are readily available, either in the Undergraduate Handbook or on the Departmental or University webpages. If you write to me with a question like this I will probably write back and ask you where you have looked already for the information. If you want to avoid this, please say in your email how you tried searching for the information you required before emailing me.

If we make an appointment to meet you must turn up on time. If you are late I may not be able to begin a meeting with you because it will infringe on other commitments. If you are unable to make an appointment, or are going to be late, please call to let me know, so that I am able to do other things with my time and am not waiting around like a lemon.

Finally, congratulations on reading this far. Here’s some good advice: “The way to get a first class mark is to answer a specific question by making arguments about theories and supporting those arguments with evidence”. Even if you aren’t aiming for a first class mark, you can still avoid getting a lower mark than you should by ensuring that you answer the question. We cannot give you marks for providing correct information which does not answer the question.

Bonus advice for 2012: If you want to get answers from busy people, ask simple direct questions. “Is today’s lecture at 12 o’clock?” is better than “When are the lectures?”, and may be more in line with what you really want to know anyway. Both of these options are better than something like “What do I need to know about the course?” which is so poorly specified that you are unlikely to get a swift and helpful answer.

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