I saw this answer and thought I shot myself in the foot by messing up my meeting with my supervisor when asking for a letter of recommendation and not clearly mentioning what I am interested in. I did mention the universities and why I am interested in them, I mentioned key research topics but I noticed he didn't follow or maybe I did a bad job of explaining. So after I said "Key Topic1, Key Topic2..." we digressed and he gave me advice about research interests and emphasized I should know what I am going to do because I said I liked the idea of rotations in the department. I agreed and said I did come to a decision where I could separate what I can be idly curious about and professionally curious about, so again we digressed, and he focused on key topics I did show interest in and encouraged me to really find what I enjoy and like (same advice came up twice).

I genuinely enjoyed the conversation and learned from him as he shared past experiences but I got worried when I left thinking I should have presented a clear idea of my future plans. I trust him and I don't think it could affect it but I wondered if I gave a bad impression by not explaining clearly even though I think I did.

My questions:

Could his thinking I am not sure what to work on affect the quality of the LOR?

Should I salvage this by sending a statement of purpose draft that outlines specific research interests?

1 Answer 1


It sounds like your conversation went well and I wouldn't worry about it or take other steps. In general, though, it is a good idea to give some, fairly general, idea about your research interests.

It is probably counterproductive at this stage to be too detailed or, especially, too insistent on specifics. That is normally only explored (with flexibility) with a new advisor/PI once you get accepted (assuming it is for grad study). Likewise, in most cases for a tenure track position, though that is negotiated with the hiring group and its needs.

But, what you say sounds fine.


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