8

I am wondering how it is treated if a post-doc researcher writes a recommendation letter for someone applying to get PhD admission.

Will the selection committee evaluate it properly?

1
  • I am currently applying to a PhD program where a Post-Doc is giving me a reference. The Post-Doc is working at the same university I am applying to. Aug 23 '16 at 17:29
11

Academic rank varies by country. But I would expect in most places a letter written by a postdoc would be considered. Selecting letter writers is often a compromise between getting a letter writer who is highly ranked and well known and getting a letter writer who is well informed. Typically one gets both when a postdoc assists a senior faculty member in writing a letter.

1
  • 4
    Personally I would expect a postdoc to do a better job because they do not have to write as many letters. But I suspect that is not a widespread view. Mar 7 '16 at 2:27
4

Since the question asks about "a" recommendation rather than "the" recommendation letter, I think a post-doc letter is likely to be very helpful (assuming it's positive of course). Committee members are likely to give more weight to the comments in such a letter under the assumption that a post-doc is likely to have had more close contact with the candidate and can give a better assessment of their abilities than a professor.

However, I think that if the only recommendation letter was from a post-doc, that would be less good, because they'd also like to see a faculty member's opinion. A professor may not have as much contact with the applicant and can't do as good a job evaluating personality and technical ability, but they can probably do a better job of comparing this particular applicant to many others in a similar position, while a post-doc can do a more detailed assessment but probably has fewer similar people to compare to.

Including letters from both would cover both bases and, I suspect, would be a stronger application than having two letters from professors.

2

If the postdoc has a very good understanding of you (ie: you worked together on a research project), it may actually be better than run-of-the-mill "She was an A-student in my class ..."-letters. I would ask the postdoc to really reflect on your skills; as someone that is still very active in research, the postdoc's opinion may be very worthy.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.