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I was requesting some recommendation letters to be submitted to a governmental institution. I am surprised that two of my professors refused to provide me recommendation letters while giving me same response. They said they agree to send letters to scientific institutions but they do not send to governmental institutions. Actually, this is the first time I ever hear about it and I find it strange! I did not understand the difference. I would like to ask why did my professors refused to send recommendation letters on my behalf to governmental institutions while they do send to scientific institutions? Is there another way I can ask them or convince them to send to such institutions? What are they afraid of? Thank you so much for giving me some insights.

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  • What country are we talking about here? The field of research may also be relevant. (e.g. I can imagine there being a difference in attitude to an astrophysicist applying to NASA vs. a Computer scientist applying to the NSA.)
    – mmeent
    Nov 15, 2021 at 10:47
  • It's a US governmental institution
    – Naps
    Nov 15, 2021 at 10:53

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To get an answer, you need to ask them. But, it might be, for them, a matter of ethics, depending on the government in question and what agency you are seeking to join. A lot of professors might be reluctant to help you join any institution if they feel that it is doing something ethically wrong. Perhaps spying agencies or weapons development, for example.

In the US, there is a lot of controversy about some of the things that have been done by Homeland Security and its various agencies in the past twenty years. And, academics are more likely to be attuned to that than many others.

But, ask them. They may be trying to save you from an ethically dubious career, rather than trying to sabotage you. Some of those things are not like the others.

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