Don't write mass emails (2): asking for help

Every week, I receive plenty of emails from students who seem to think I run a free essay writing service. It is bad enough if you write to completely unknown academics expecting them to do your assignments for you. However, it never ceases to amaze me how truly awful some of these emails are. I guess that’s one of the reasons why these students ask for help, they are just not smart enough to complete their own assignments. This is one of my favourites.


Cute girl email

From: cute girl []


MR .Anne-Wil Harzing

my name is amna I am from Oman I doing reserch about HR in japan Ineed your help. I read some article that you write it so intersting but that not answer my question which are prepare a report outlining the key HR practices in japan country.

The relevant HR areas include recruitment & selection, training & development, compensation and labor relations.

my best regard

What's going wrong here?

  1. The sender’s name is “cute girl”
  2. The email is sent from a hotmail address, not a university address
  3. It doesn’t have a subject line
  4. The greeting “hello” is far too informal
  5. The sender assumes every academic must be a Mr.
  6. Capitalisation, spelling, interpunction, and grammar are all atrocious
  7. The message is extremely generic “I read some article that you write”
  8. The message mixes three different fonts (unfortunately not visible in this blog)
  9. The message doesn’t actually include a specific request apart from “Ineed your help”
  10. The message does not include a name at the end

The only sentence in the email that makes any sense is the one reproducing the assignment, no doubt copied from the course manual. :-)

PhD students are not much better

Incidentally, this is by no means limited to what we must presume is an undergraduate or masters student. This is an email I recently received from a PhD student.


Hello Madam 

This Al-mattari a Ph.D Student , As matter of fact i am lacking in caring my research out as i am a fresh candidate in such filed . To day out of blue , i got your email Id.

I am writing to you in order to give me a  hand ,please . whereas i am doing my dissertation in your interest area : international management ..

My Ph.D topic is much similar to yours,  it is about "  Global Human resource :- current Trends " ,,   " international Human resource Management  "

I would be thankful if You show some interest to my request ..Thank in Advance


I feel sorry for their supervisor!

Update 27 July 2017

This one just came in and I couldn't resist including it. At least the previous request was somehow related to my own research. This PhD student seems to expect that I do the entire literature review for his PhD in Political Science for him. He did consult my "official web link", but didn't even manage to establish I am female :-)


Dear Sir/Madam
Warm Regards
I am Sanjeev from India & pursuing my  PhD studies.
I wanted to get information on total papers/cases/reviews/articles/analysis/modelling published from 2007 to 2017 on my Research study.
My keywords are : Functional Equality , Civil Military Relations, Democracy,Armed Forces,Bureaucracy.
The topic of my Research study is ``Study of Functional Equality between Civil Military Relations in the Indian Democracy ``
I tried a lot to get information from your official web link, but couldn't get anything.
Please help.
Its very urgent.

Also note the almost identical formatting of the title of the PhD topic. Has this student maybe interpreted the previous example as "best practice" or is this an elaborate email scam and is this in fact the same person?

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