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Background: CS Undergrad applying to CS PhD Programs.

I have an internship experience under a HOD of a department in my university. The work was on computer vision, there was a paper published at a decent venue (I am a shared first author) and some good publicity as well.

I do not have space left in my sop to mention this as my primary target is deep learning and I mentioned all my deep learning experiences. But, my work is applying deep learning to computer vision problems.

Questions: Should I submit a LOR from this prof? Who's work I do not mention at all in the SOP (It is mentioned in my CV)

Why I want to: Because she is a HOD and the work was done in collaboration with a foreign university so she can highlight that exposure as well given I am from India and applying to a foreign country.

Note: This will be my additional LOR. Few programs all 3+1 or 3+2. This will be my +1. I already have submitted the primary 3.

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You should choose the strongest letters of recommendation possible. Everything else is secondary. Strongest means commenting very positively on your aptitude for research as compared to your peers. Usually, the letter from your research advisor(s) are your strongest letters; letters that say only "Aymous did well in my class" are much, much weaker. A professor in a different subfield or even a different department that gives a glowing recommendation of your research performance is a very strong letter that you should not discount. So, if you believe this would be a strong letter, I would definitely submit it.

Now, you raised a specific concern about not having mentioned this work in your SOP. Two responses:

  • There is no rule that you have to cover the same ground in your SOP and your letters. It's perfectly fine to discuss one research experience in your SOP and to have a letter from a professor that discusses a different research experience. It is your CV that needs to be "complete" and list all relevant research experiences.
  • But, I am concerned that you say "I do not have space left in my sop to mention this as...I mentioned all my deep learning experiences." Make sure that your SOP is not simply recasting your CV into paragraph form! Your SOP should be a narrative explaining what your purpose is (hence the name). It should also justify your purpose by explaining your experiences, goals, interests, and skills (and potentially even weaknesses or challenges). So, you can (and should) certainly discuss your deep learning research, but make sure that you are "going deeper" than simply regurgitating the information already on your CV.
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    Thank you very much for the answer. This was exactly what I was looking for. And yes, my initial draft was a victim to the "recasting the CV", but I have made sure that is not the case anymore, hence the exclusion of this particular experience. Thank you so much.
    – Academic
    Nov 22, 2021 at 7:51

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