I wonder can I ask a lecturer who I took his course and I did amazing in his class for a letter of recommendation?
The reason why I am asking is because lecturers are not usually doing research and might be permanent faculty member.

  • 4
    It might be helpful to specify which country you are in. In the UK and in countries with similar university systems, most lecturers do research.
    – Tara B
    Commented Sep 23, 2014 at 10:58

2 Answers 2


If you're applying for a research-based position, it is almost always better to have letters of recommendation from people who know you and can comment on your research skills.

However, if you do not have enough letters of recommendation that can come from such people, then a letter of recommendation from someone who knows your work well and can comment on your strengths and weaknesses is also acceptable—even if it is not a "permanent faculty member."

  • I think you mean "tenure-track faculty member". In my experience, most lecturers are de facto permanent, even if they don't formally have tenure. And in many US universities (like Berkeley) some lecturers do have tenure (or "security of employment").
    – JeffE
    Commented Sep 23, 2014 at 13:59
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    I was quoting the OP in the use of "permanent."
    – aeismail
    Commented Sep 23, 2014 at 14:39
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    Thanks for your answer but based on what you say if I need 3 letter of recommendation then I need to work with at least 3 different faculty advisor and therefore 3 different research labs.
    – user59419
    Commented Sep 23, 2014 at 21:45
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    @user59419: Yes, ideally, you would have three such distinct letters from research staff—professors are ideal, but it could also be from a research scientist at a company or non-academic lab. If you don't have three, then look for recommendations from teaching staff. (A good letter is a good letter, but a good letter that can comment on your research aptitude is much better than one that doesn't.)
    – aeismail
    Commented Sep 23, 2014 at 22:35

If a lecturer can comment your relevant skills, then there is nothing wrong with asking a reference letter. As your instructor, they may know that you are highly motivated, hard working, easily grasping the hard theoretical concepts... all very relevant for e.g. grad school.

In my experience the problem is more often that the instructor does not really know you.

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