Recently, I need to take some recommendation letters from our collaborators but I'm not sure is it fine to ask them directly by myself or should I ask my adviser to do so? Any idea or suggestion is appreciated.


It's always better to ask a person directly for the letter of recommendation. That way you can judge the person's enthusiasm and interest in writing a letter. They will also be able to give you more direct information than working through the "middleman" of your advisor.

If you feel uncomfortable approaching your collaborator for a letter, that's probably a sign that you might not get the quality of letter you want.

But you should also mention to your advisor that you are asking your collaborator for a letter, regardless of which path you pursue.

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  • No, I'm not afraid about the quality just I don't want to look awful as someone that contacted our collaborators without working through the "middleman" as my adviser. Something like: After some while maybe the collaborator says to my adviser that your student got a recommendation letter from me. But my adviser says I didn't know that. And, maybe that looks awful in my adviser eyes that I contact professors without letting him to know. Am I just hesitating too much or it is rational in your opinion? – Alone Programmer Jan 8 '19 at 17:08
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    @AloneProgrammer So let your advisor know you are going to ask the collaborator for a letter then. – Austin Henley Jan 8 '19 at 17:22
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    Why not to ask the advisor what is better to do? He will either propose that he will ask or will tell you to ask. – student Jan 8 '19 at 17:58
  • @AustinHenley: Thanks for the reminder. I had planned to mention that as part of my answer. – aeismail Jan 8 '19 at 18:14
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    If you're worried that your request will look like you're going behind your advisor's back, CC your advisor on the request email. – JeffE Jan 8 '19 at 19:21

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