I asked a professor who is my research co-supervisor for a recommendation letter and he said "OK I can write that you are my student and you are good, but I can't comment on your research until you complete your thesis." When I first asked him he asked me to stay and do PhD with him. Now he won't comment on my research which would really hurt my chances of being admitted. I mean when I have completed my thesis I would have missed the deadlines and would have to wait for another year (supposedly as a researcher with the same professor).

My question is, should I take his recommendation or ask someone else based on what he said?

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    It's very hard to discern what your question is. This isn't a forum, so we don't take posts of the form "here's a situation; discuss". Please can you turn your post into one with a specific question that could be answerable in a small number of paragraphs?
    – 410 gone
    Jul 6 '14 at 14:30
  • Consider editing your title to include essential information about your question. Jul 6 '14 at 16:49
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    You should ask other people for reference letters no matter what your advisor says. Even if your advisor agrees to write about your researcher, it's always useful to have additional references available.
    – JeffE
    Jul 7 '14 at 16:57

If you are applying for positions where you need recommendation letters, it's going to look pretty strange if you don't have one from one of your co-supervisors if it's possible to tell who they were. You don't say what degree you are currently working on, but I'm guessing it's either your undergraduate or master's degree since you appear to be applying for a PhD. I wouldn't recommend saying the following directly to this person, but refusing to write a letter of recommendation in order to try to prevent a student is highly unethical.

I recommend you talk to your other co-supervisor and see if you can get them to help you talk the recalcitrant co-supervisor into writing you a letter. It is very common for students to move from group to group and institution to institution while getting their successive degrees. In fact, most institutions in the US have a preference towards moving around like this. While losing a good student is hard, it's very inappropriate for a professor to try to prevent a student from moving on.

If the professor is having trouble coming up with things to say about your research progress, you can help him out by writing some text about what you've done so far and the good progress that you've made. Faced with some true statements about how good your research prospects are and the progress you've made to date, they may cave easily and write you the letter you need. If you show your resolve to apply elsewhere, they should hopefully give in.

  • Thank you for your reply. I have asked the other research supervisor and he happily agreed. This supervisor doesn't want to write about my research not that he has a problem coming up with things to write. Anyway, I will ask someone else. Thanks again for your kind reply.
    – user18244
    Jul 6 '14 at 16:33

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