I am applying for a lectureship in Engineering at a research intensive Russell Group university. The position involves both research and teaching, roughly 40% research, 40% teaching, 20% admin.

I need to provide three references. I have references which are very familiar with my research work but know very little about my teaching experience. I also have a reference who is the opposite (knows my teaching experience but not research).

I could provide 3 research references, or 2 research and 1 teaching reference.

Should my references focus solely on research, or is there value in including a teaching only reference?

  • If it is a teaching position then you should provide some teaching reference.
    – PsySp
    Mar 18, 2017 at 11:31
  • @PsySp The position involves both research and teaching. Roughly 40% research, 40% teaching, 20% admin.
    – atom44
    Mar 18, 2017 at 11:38
  • 2
    then definitely you should provide teaching credentials in conjunction with research. There is nothing wrong if one reference is exclusive on teaching and the other two exclusive on research.
    – PsySp
    Mar 18, 2017 at 11:44
  • PsySp, I think that in this particular context (UK Russell Group position) the answer given below by @csp is more relevant.
    – Yemon Choi
    Mar 20, 2017 at 3:51
  • Can you ask the admissions contact person? Mar 20, 2017 at 5:00

2 Answers 2


For Russell Group? Research is king - this is not a teaching post, it's a research position (UK Russell Group lecturer is broadly equivalent to an assistant prof at a US R1 - the job titles are different).

Your CV should mention teaching experience, certainly, but your reference letters should be talking about your research skills, and your likelihood of securing funding. What are your REF 4* papers, what funding do you have – those are what matters.

(Source: I'm an SL at a Russell Group Uni, recently on interview panel for lecturer posts)


Although the time-split may suggest the teaching and research are equally important, in practice, as you know, your research is what will wow the appointing committee.

What you need to do on the teaching front is provide evidence that you'll do it effectively (good student feedback, good vibes from those running courses that articulate with yours, minimal problems generated for department) and also efficiently (that is, not likely to bite into the 40% research time - preferably contrariwise). A reference is good, but a reference alone probably won't deal with all this, but you can prepare your pitch to get these messages over; and if you have to give a class or whatever as part of the interview process, do it in such a way that conveys the right message. It's become pretty standard for people to have to hand a teaching portfolio or the like, and if quizzed seriously on this front, be able to offer a sight of it.

As to the admin, I think that again it helps if you've run a conference or helped organise a course or whatever, and it's known that you can do these tasks without taking your eye off the research ball.

  • This is good general advice but I think it is more relevant to e.g. North American applications than UK ones (speaking from my own experience having applied for jobs in both systems)
    – Yemon Choi
    Mar 20, 2017 at 3:50
  • 1
    @YemonChoi, thanks. I meant by my first sentence to make clear that the research was the key consideration, I should have made that clearer. But even some "top" Russell Group universities (my only experience) may check out the teaching in the minimal way I have suggested -- and some may even build a specimen teaching session into the process. No harm in being prepared! Mar 20, 2017 at 7:43

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .