I did research with a professor for one year, however I will probably not ask him for a recommendation letter. This is for PhD admissions.

I've put the research experience on my resume, and it feels right to include his name, because that's how I've seen it always done for undergraduate research experiences. Will it look weird to have his name on my CV but not have a recommendation letter from him?

1 Answer 1


Whatever the reason is that you're not asking a letter from the professor, would that not also extend to being contacted about the work you did? My point being is that if you think a letter wouldn't be favorable then you would also be worried about an email or phone call also not being favorable.

If however that isn't the case, then it's entirely circumstantial. Does the program you're applying for require letters of recommendation? If so, why not just ask? If it doesn't require a letter of recommendation then you can just mention it to the professor that you've applied for a position and would it be alright if they are a reference?

Don't stick someone on your CV and not tell them about it. Professors don't like being cold called about this kind of thing.

  • He wouldn't write negative things about me but I don't think he'd write a strong letter either. That's why I'd rather not ask him for one. Also it's the fact that the research was in a different area from the one I plan to focus on in grad school. Therefore I assume they would either not contact him, or not be much disappointed if they don't hear strong praise about me from him? Nov 3, 2017 at 8:54
  • I don't think that it's the field of study that would matter so much as your performance, to be honest. Your prior performance in academia can be an indication of your performance in the future, so of course they would want to check references. Also what do you think would be worse? Getting a not very strong recommendation or getting found out you were trying to hide a reference?
    – Eppicurt
    Nov 3, 2017 at 9:02
  • But if I'm adding his name on my CV, I can't rightly be accused of hiding him, right? :) And I keep hearing that a lukewarm recommendation is the kiss of death, so I'm not sure.... The alternatives would be to remove his name from my CV, but keep the project, and to remove the project altogether. What's your take on those? Nov 3, 2017 at 9:06
  • I can't really answer without knowing any more specifics, which would be unwise for you to share here. Is there maybe somebody else from the workplace you can ask for a more solid recommendation? My point still standing that you need to expect that if they're put on the CV, you need to inform them and expect them to be contacted.
    – Eppicurt
    Nov 3, 2017 at 9:08

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