I am in the process of applying for graduate school, and I have some past research experience during summer. I am not planning to get a letter of recommendation from the supervisor whom I worked with during that term. (I had been recommended to join their group by another professor, and I joined bluntly without any interest on the subject, and further I had no background education on the topic. As a result, I believe that I did not leave a good impression.)

My question is, would it be bad to include this experience in my CV without a LOR from that specific supervisor?

It was mentioned in here by StrongBad that it is not a good sign, if so should I remove that experience from my CV?


1 Answer 1


First, note that it is only a red flag if you are omitting the most recent or only research experience. You are generally only required to get a few letters of recommendation. If you need N recommendations, and have a sufficient set of strong and recent recommenders, then there is simply no reason to get additional weak recommendations beyond your N strongest.

Omitting from your CV, however, is probably a bad idea, because it can be considered dishonest. In my experience, a full CV should include both your triumphs and your sins, and hiding your sins will only increase your trouble when they come out at a later time.

If you don't have other more recent research experience, but you didn't completely burn your bridges, you might approach this by having a very blunt conversation with your former advisor. Lay out your concerns like you have here and ask what the professor would suggest is the best path forward. They may be willing to write you a very neutral letter, e.g.:

X was a member of my group for a brief time. It was not a good fit, but I believe they have the potential to do well elsewhere.

Then you can lean on the strength of your other letters be essentially evaluated as having not done research.

If you've really angered the professor, though, and have no other research experience, then it may be the case that the only good way to address this is to get some more research experience.

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