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I'm applying to grad school and have requested a professor to write a recommendation letter. He said he'd be happy to write one for me. I had worked on two projects with him. While working on the first one, I was a full-time collaborator and I was able to deliver the targets we had set out. This was two years ago.

During the beginning of this year, we decided to start working on another project. However, I couldn't devote much time to it because I was working on a full-time job. My responsibilities on my job kept me engaged and I couldn't make much progress. Slowly this project fell through the cracks. Since the professor is an extremely busy person it is unlikely that he would recall details around the first project. I'm worried he would unwittingly be influenced by the failure of the recent project.

How do I request him to take into account the fact that I was busy with a job while working on the second one and hence factor the first(successful) one strongly into the letter? I do not want to ask for it directly because it would appear pushy.

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    You don't, I would say. Nov 19, 2020 at 17:00
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    You could send him an email with a resume and attachments of the work you did on the first project and say something like, "FYI, attached are my resume and some documents of the work we did together in case that will help in writing the letter." Present is as though you're just providing him with material to help write the letter in case he wants it, rather than requesting any particular content in the letter. Nov 19, 2020 at 18:54

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Generally, one only writes positive things in a letter of recommendation. If you are writing a letter and cannot write positive things, do not write it.

Therefore, it is not necessary to ask that negative information be left out of a letter.

Should a reference letter for a student always be positive?

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