I was guided by a Post-Doc for my undergraduate thesis, but the one responsible for all and offering the thesis was a Professor, who I only talked to when discussing the thesis, agreeing to it, and the explanation of the grade in the end. Who of both would be the one to ask for a letter of recommendation? More general, should you always ask the person with who one was mostly in contact during work, or the person responsible for it all, if they are not the same person?

  • 3
    Why not ask both?
    – Ébe Isaac
    May 3, 2016 at 4:54
  • Is this usually done and of benefit? If "yes", then I will.
    – Lucas
    May 3, 2016 at 14:53

2 Answers 2


You should ask the professor for the letter. It is likely the professor will get help from the postdoc in writing the letter. There is a traditional belief that the professor's opinion is worth more, so whoever is reading the letter will expect to get a letter signed by the professor.

  • So, it is wide-spread among admission committees and potential employers to assume that the letter of recommendation is meaningful in any case and that if the Prof him/herself was not in frequent contact with the student, he/she was at least advised about the students attitude and behavior during the work?
    – Lucas
    May 3, 2016 at 15:01
  • 1
    The professor has still read your thesis and can judge it objectively. Presumably, he has also received reports of your progress from the postdoc. The weight of your letter does depend somewhat heavily on the reputation of the one writing it. For this reason, some people even recommend to steer away from assistant professors if possible.
    – user8001
    May 3, 2016 at 15:06

It might be worthwhile to remember what a letter of recommendation is for. If you have to choose between the two, I would recommend asking the postdoc, as I presume from your description that he knows you better.

The professor might be well-known, but if he doesn't know you enough, he may not be able to write a strong letter and he might end up asking you to draft the letter. This is quite a common practice, but I believe should be avoided if there is already someone who can write you a recommendation without asking you to draft it.

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