I talked to a professor about writing a recommendation (sometime before winter break) and he verbally agreed to it, and I sent him the official email request during winter break. He has not responded (I suspect it is because I sent the email during winter break) and out of politeness I didn't put his email down for reference requests without his consent. Is it considered pestering if I send him a follow up email now, restating my request? It has been about 3 weeks, and deadlines are in February and I wish to give at least a month's time to write the rec.
It's not pestering. Neither it is a good sign. Professors are always busy, still they are supposed to be professionals who prioritize their work and try as hard as they can to get the to bottom of their to-do list.
Sending a new polite e-mail with a reminder is certainly a good idea as he/she might just have put you down on her/his priority list. However, you need to be prepared to accept that you may 1) be down on their priority list for reasons of not being particularly enthusiastic to write that letter or 2) be facing a too busy (sloppy?) professor who may send a letter too late.
Just send the new e-mail and gauge the reaction.
Most profs leave things like this to the last second... many even are bad and miss deadlines. No recommender I am aware of would start drafting a month in advance and carefully craft before submitting. Work level is so high that they will just crank this out when the deadline motivates them.
- if deadline is hard (NSF, etc.) be sure your reminder states this
- provide info to help them write (your CV, research proposal, etc.)
- if there are any good stories of your work with this person not included in your CV that would be good for him/her to include, briefly summarize them.
did anyone consider that winter break is supposed to be just that, a break? Professors don't give you assignments during that time, so please consider their needs to work on research or take a break over the holidays, as they so richly deserve. It was self-centered of you to send the request during the break.