Tip of the Day 5: To Catch A Professor

So, you have a hare-brained scheme/awesome proposal/nagging question and want to get in touch with a big-shot professor. First thing to know is that there is little correlation between willingness-to-see-students and availability-by-email. Sure it's worth sending an email and asking if they have office hours you could come to, or if it would be possible to come to their office some other time in the week. But some professors who don't reply to those messages are actually very happy to talk if you just stop by. Check if they're in their office and ask very, very politely if you could have some of their time, or whether you should make an appointment. If they're not in their office, go to the nearest administrator from their department or programme-it should be clear who they're associated with-say you're looking for Professor Whoever, and ask their advice about the best way to get in touch. Ask whether the professor responds to e-mail, and ask if they have office hours, and ask if there's a good time to catch them and whether it's a good/bad idea to just drop by. Despite the age of the internet, sometimes showing up at an office is the only way to get someone's attention.