Last year this happened to me : I have asked a professor if he were available for being my graduate thesis advisor, now my bachelor thesis advisor is angry with me

After that, I decided to apologize with professor X: I sent him an e-mail in which I said that it wasn't my intention to offend him by contacting Y. I said I was sorry things went that way, and I thanked him for everything he taught me nonetheless.

After a month or so, he sent me an e-mail in which he said he pursued the research he meant to assign me on his own, and published a paper in which he mentioned my contribution. He said he was sorry that we couldn't make it together, but if I have to be honest it sounded to me as if he wanted to show me the occasion I lost: I could have authored another paper...

I switched to another field of study (same major, but different topic), and I have an excellent advisor. He knows what happened with my prievous one, and blames X, not me.

However, I need three recommendation letters for grad. applications, and I don't know whether to ask X or not for one. After all, I wrote a paper with him, and that's one of the strongest points of my application. It would be even stronger if the co-author could write on my behalf. In addition, its absence among the referee would be suspicious.

On the other hand, I don't trust X anymore. He already said "yes" to me smiling, whilst was thinking "no". He could act as if he wasn't angry with me anymore, and instead write a terrible recommendation letter...

So, any suggestion?


Based on your history with him, and the fact that he insinuated that you were "mentally unstable" in a previous email - no, you should avoid this individual like the plague.

Perhaps ask the head of the department for a recommendation, explaining the situation? They may be able to write about your work in the department and explain why your first adviser was not asked to provide a letter.

  • 1
    Agreed (+1), but to me the fact that the old advisor claimed - mental or physical - abuse of a female co-student by OP makes it absolutely essential to avoid him. (Some) admissions committees might consider an eccentric (crazy) candidate; but if the other incident, true or false, is related, I cannot see OP being considered anywhere. – gnometorule Dec 1 '15 at 16:41

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