I want to apply for an open position as a postdoctoral fellow at NYU. The following sentence appears in the instructions:

Application Instructions: Please be sure to include at least 3 academic references in your application / on your C.V.

Are they asking for 3 reference letters or a list containing at least 3 mail to contact somebody who can recommend me? I am not an English native speaker and it doesn't sound clear to me. I further understand that letters of recommendation must include an explicit mention of the position for which I want to apply. The probability of rejection is really high for these positions, does that mean I need a separate reference letter for each position I apply for?

  • 5
    Actually, I am a native English speaker and I find it ambiguous also.
    – Buffy
    Nov 23, 2022 at 14:39
  • Why have you tagged it [master-post-phd] when your body says you are applying to a postdoc position? Nov 23, 2022 at 15:09

1 Answer 1


It sounds like they are asking for contact details for three people who would provide academic references.

The other option doesn't make sense, since you couldn't personally include the reference letters (since you don't have access to them). There are generally only two possibilities:

  1. Give us contact details for your references and we will ask them for letters.
  2. Ask your references to send letters to [some email address] before the closing date.

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