For an application, I have to fill in the contact information of somebody who wrote me a recommendation letter. The person owns three e-mail accounts: permanent (on Gmail), my university’s e-mail service and another university’s e-mail service (where he is the chairman).

So, I feel a little bit confused which e-mail address would be best to give? Does it matter at all?

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    I think that the best course of action would be to ask your reference(s) which e-mail address they prefer to be contacted through for such purposes. As for whether it matters, it indeed might matter (for both parties), for example, one might check e-mail much more frequently via a particular e-mail account, etc. Jun 28, 2015 at 17:31
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    How is a gmail address permanent? Google could decide to turn Gmail off without your input.
    – Édouard
    Jun 28, 2015 at 18:05
  • @Édouard Gmail is more permanent than an university email adress because the university deletes your email adress as soon as you're no longer a member of that university. You xan keep your gmail adress forever in most cases
    – BlueWizard
    Jun 29, 2015 at 4:38
  • @JonasDralle Not all universities cancel email addresses as soon as people leave. And, while one might expect that GMail will keep going indefinitely (and longer than, say, a postdoc might be employed at a particular institution), there is no contractual relationship between Google and most gmail users. Google could turn off most GMail accounts tomorrow, if it wanted to. Web services, even popular ones, don't last forever (see GeoCities for a prominent example). Jun 29, 2015 at 6:11
  • Why are people using the term referee for reference here (title and @Drecate's answer)? There's a full 2 letter difference.
    – Kimball
    Jun 29, 2015 at 6:30

2 Answers 2


I know some universities that prefer email addresses that demonstrate the university affiliations of your referees, so that they know the letters will actually come from the listed referees rather than the student pretending to be the referees with a free gmail account. If the referee has multiple university affiliations, then I would recommend the one associated with the university in which you and the referee became acquainted with each other. For example, if you did an internship with a professor at university B, even though the professor holds a tenure position at university A as well, it is better to use the email address of university B in such a situation.

Of course, some professors do not use the mail account provided by the universities, and thus you should consult with your referee first to make sure that you give the email address that the referee actually checks.


Ask them which address they want these to arrive on.

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