Questions tagged [recommendation-letter]

Questions on recommendation or reference letters received from faculty members when applying for graduate schools or faculty positions.

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198
votes
14answers
33k views

Writing a recommendation letter for a student I reported for academic dishonesty

A few years ago, I reported a student for academic dishonesty (in a graduate-level mathematics course, they were copying solutions off the internet, nearly verbatim). After acknowledging their wrong-...
107
votes
18answers
14k views

Should I recommend a student with a bad ideology?

My problem is the following: I teach an honors course in an engineering discipline at a small university. (It is not exactly that, but "teaching an honors course" is a good approximation to what I do)...
106
votes
10answers
24k views

Why do Americans care so much about recommendation letters?

In Europe, we judge students based on their work and abilities. How are their grades? Do they have relevant work experience (TA/RA, maybe part-time industry work, etc)? What projects have they done? ...
77
votes
7answers
9k views

To avoid legal battle, in bussiness world reference letters are written extremely terse. How do academics get away with this?

It seems to be accepted wisdom in the business world that reference letters for former employees should be extremely terse. They should confirm that the employee worked there, and essentially nothing ...
76
votes
6answers
19k views

Is it ethical to use a recommendation letter from a deceased professor?

She was a really nice professor and she wrote me a good recommendation letter that resulted in a lot of good results with applications. Recently, this professor died from brain cancer, which was a ...
74
votes
5answers
63k views

What does it mean if a professor asks you to draft his reference letter for you?

This question is, honestly speaking, probably somewhat opinion-based, but I still want to give a shot. A professor acceded to my invitation of writing a reference letter for me. Nevertheless, unlike ...
68
votes
5answers
3k views

I was sexually assaulted by a professor writing me a LOR for grad-school applications. What should I do?

I’m a foreign student currently applying to extremely competitive doctoral programs in the US. Recently, one of the professors writing a letter of recommendation sexually assaulted me. I live in a ...
64
votes
11answers
20k views

Difficult student would dispute every grade in the course and now wants letter of recommendation

I had a student in one of my courses that for every graded assignment would come to me and challenge the grade given, even though I provided a rubric to show exactly why the points where taken off. ...
63
votes
7answers
36k views

Is it acceptable to write a reference letter for yourself?

If a student needs a reference letter for graduate admissions or that sort of thing, some profs will ask the student to write a reference letter for themself before sending it off to the prof for ...
62
votes
5answers
17k views

Should I write that a student is a feminist in my recommendation letter?

I'm in the process of writing a recommendation letter for a female student to be admitted to some honors program within the university. She is fantastic and I assume that she will get admitted with ...
59
votes
10answers
22k views

Professor refuses to write a recommendation letter to students who haven't written a research paper with him

I am currently a fourth-year Electrical Engineering student. I have been a top-ranked student in our department. I have passed 3 courses with a professor in our department and have received a full ...
59
votes
2answers
7k views

How to clarify that supervisor writing a reference is not related to me even though we have the same last name?

By chance, I have the same last name as one of the supervisors of a project I worked on. If I ask him to write me a recommendation letter, will the admission committee misconstrue that we are related ...
59
votes
3answers
10k views

Writing a letter of recommendation for a faculty colleague I cannot highly recommend

A colleague of mine has asked that I write him a letter of recommendation (LOR). I will call him Steve. He recently was denied tenure and is looking for a new position at several other universities. ...
56
votes
4answers
28k views

Should I waive my right to view my recommendation letters?

Most graduate applications provide a choice for applicants to view their recommendation letters at a later date. There is a mention of some US mandate alongside. Is it a better option to forgo this ...
54
votes
3answers
16k views

Student asks for letter of recommendation: I can't remember the student

I have already had this issue a few times. I just received an e-mail from a former student of an undergraduate course, asking for a letter of recommendation to apply for graduate studies. This course ...
54
votes
5answers
19k views

How to handle not having my PhD advisor as a reference?

I received my PhD in 2009 and my adviser will not provide a good recommendation for me. This is mostly because we have fundamentally different approaches to science, and in retrospect I see that I ...
48
votes
3answers
9k views

How to deal with abusive professor?

I am a fresh medical graduate. I worked with a professor who harassed me sexually. Unfortunately, I was afraid to talk and also a little bit confused because I was an international visiting student at ...
47
votes
6answers
12k views

Should I get a letter of recommendation from my mother, who is a famous researcher in my field?

My mother is a quite famous researcher (she has a PhD) on the field I want to do a PhD in. She works on the industry (not academia). I helped her on successful projects. She knows more about my work ...
46
votes
4answers
10k views

Copied Letter of Recommendation?

I asked one of my professors whom I've known for 2 years to write a recommendation for me now that I'm planning for graduate school— about 3 years later after he left to another university. He asked ...
44
votes
8answers
14k views

Retract an already submitted recommendation letter (written for an undergrad student)

In the middle of the current semester, a student in my large lecture class (of an undergraduate course) asked me for a letter of recommendation, to supplement his application to transfer to another, ...
44
votes
5answers
15k views

Writing a letter of recommendation for a mediocre student

A former student has asked me to write a letter of recommendation. I am always quite happy to do so -- but in this case it's hard to find much to say. The student took two classes with me and earned ...
43
votes
6answers
22k views

Letter writer snapped at my reminder email. What can I do in the future to prevent this, and should I still accept his letter?

I sent a reminder email one day before the due date for a couple of my applications to grad school. It said something along the lines of This is just a reminder that first due dates are tomorrow: [...
42
votes
3answers
12k views

What to do if a professor confused me with another student in a letter of reference?

Last year one of the recommendation letter writers wrote incorrect information about my character and this was the reason I was rejected when I applied to graduate school. After hearing about the ...
40
votes
8answers
10k views

Reference letter without permission

I'm a PhD student and one of my research assistants (undergraduate student) applied for a non-research volunteer position on campus. He asked (via email) for me to be one of his references on the day ...
39
votes
4answers
6k views

Is it appropriate to ask my professors what they think of me before I ask for letters of recommendations from them?

As some students know, sometimes it is not easy to determine whether a professor (restricted to the professors in U.S.) will write a strong letter of recommendation for a student. So the question is, ...
39
votes
6answers
9k views

Points to remember when having to write recommendation letter yourself

While it is an unethical academic practice, it is a fact that most recommendation letters for MS degrees in US and Europe from countries like India and China are written by students themselves. ...
38
votes
4answers
4k views

How do professors learn how to write letters of recommendation?

Writing letters of recommendation must be a fine art. Culture across fields and countries vary wildly in almost any respect, and this is likely to the case for LoR. How/when do professors learn how ...
38
votes
5answers
4k views

How to acquire 3 recommendation letters to apply for jobs when working with 1 advisor?

We all know that usually when applying for a post phd academic position students need at least three recommendation letters. But what can we do if we have only worked with our advisor and we have no ...
38
votes
1answer
18k views

How do I effectively solicit a strong letter of recommendation from a professor?

I have been asked to write many letters of recommendation over many years. In some cases, the requesters have made this task easy and enjoyable, and others, less so. I'd like to offer some guidelines ...
37
votes
7answers
22k views

Are students allowed to read recommendation letters written for them?

As a relatively new assistant professor, I'm beginning to write recommendation letters for a few students. Recently, a student asked me to write a recommendation letter for him. The web link which was ...
37
votes
1answer
28k views

How long should letters of recommendation for students be?

I have recently (finally?) had some requests to write letters of recommendation for graduate students. However, it's not really clear to me how long a good letter of recommendation should be. I've ...
36
votes
11answers
12k views

Why should a P.I be motivated to write a strong LOR even if that means losing a undergraduate from his/her lab?

Suppose, you are the head of a lab, and there is a particular undergraduate in your lab that you want them to continue working in your lab while doing their graduate studies in the university you are ...
36
votes
5answers
11k views

How to politely reject a request for a letter of recommendation for a professor

I am a student. I received a request for a letter of recommendation to a professor for some award. I know for a fact that my letter will be directly used in the application for the award. [I have ...
36
votes
3answers
3k views

Is it common not be able to use tenured department colleagues to write letters of support for tenure?

I am up for tenure at a US university. It is a regional comprehensive 4-year primarily undergraduate university; it's mostly teaching school but has 10-15% graduate students. I am allowed a maximum ...
35
votes
5answers
13k views

Years ago, a professor agreed to write a LOR, but never sent it. Therefore, I'm not accepted in any school. What can I do?

Years ago, a professor agreed to write me a recommendation letter. So I applied to many grad schools indicating him as one of my referees. However, I didn't find out until later that he didn't write ...
35
votes
3answers
3k views

How high should I rate a good student for PhD admission?

I am a relatively young faculty member. I was asked to provide a reference for a student of mine so he is admitted in a PhD program in Sciences in UK. The student is probably one of the best students ...
33
votes
9answers
13k views

Professor didn't write a letter because I didn't waive my right to view it. How to let him know that I have changed this?

I'm applying to UIUC and have asked 3 of my professors to write me recommendation letters. One professor, who I discussed my application with before extensively, wrote back to me after I was done with ...
33
votes
5answers
6k views

What to do when expecting a negative recommendation letter?

I'm a postdoc having a difficult relationship with my adviser. Rather unexpectedly, he started literally bombarding me with all sorts of mostly unjustified accusations, including that I'm not ...
33
votes
4answers
14k views

Is it possible to give too much praise in a reference letter that supports a green card application?

I am currently writing a reference letter for a colleague applying for a US green card. Given that I don't know much about the process and expectations of the immigration bureaucrats who will handle ...
33
votes
5answers
13k views

How frequently can you ask for a personal reference without being disrespectful?

When applying for post-doctoral and faculty positions you are typically asked for three (sometimes more) reference letters to support your application. Given that it is competitive out there, it ...
32
votes
10answers
15k views

Would it be rude to ask a famous professor who doesn't know me personally for a recommendation letter if I have published in a high ranking journal?

Would it be rude to email a famous professor asking for a recommendation letter to Dphil, if I had published in a high or moderately high ranking journal in her/his field and just have letters from ...
32
votes
7answers
19k views

Would a professor write a bad letter of recommendation?

I asked a professor from my online graduate degree to write a letter of recommendation. It was when I first started looking at graduate school, so was not prepared with what you would usually want to ...
31
votes
8answers
6k views

Avoiding discussing a recommendation

A colleague of mine has recently asked me about an uncomfortable dilemma that he faces. Some years ago, a rather problematic student of his requested a recommendation letter. My colleague indicated ...
31
votes
5answers
9k views

How to write a reference request for a candidate that I see unfit for the application?

This question is a bit different from this question: What to do if asked to write a letter of recommendation for a weak candidate? Instead of not knowing the student well enough, I know the student ...
31
votes
2answers
5k views

My advisor refuses to write me a recommendation for my PhD application unless I apply to his lab

I got my master’s degree in China and had worked for two years as a visiting student in the US. Although my master thesis’s supervisor promised to write me a recommendation letter, my visiting student ...
31
votes
4answers
5k views

What can I do if one of my referees falsifies information in a Letter of Recommendation?

I am in a difficult situation in regards to letters of recommendation and I would like to ask for a bit of advice from all of you. This past June, I applied to several different medical schools ...
31
votes
5answers
2k views

How to avoid gender bias when writing letters of recommendation?

Finding letter writing guidelines that simply say something like "avoid gender bias" is rather easy. Finding letter writing guidelines that explain what this means in more detail is extremely ...
30
votes
5answers
8k views

Asking my Professor to create a Google Account to submit a Letter of Recommendation for me

I requested a recommendation letter to a professor and he agreed to write one for me. However, the application (a Google form) to which he needed to upload the letter required a Google account to ...
30
votes
9answers
10k views

What if my professor writes me a negative LOR, in order to keep me working with him?

I am a undergrad student, and I am currently conducting summer research under a professor. During our last meeting, I have revealed that I wish to go to school A for my graduate study. But my prof ...
30
votes
5answers
7k views

Professor will not write a letter of recommendation because I have restricted access to my records under FERPA, is this legitimate?

I am preparing my tenure-track faculty application materials for the current hiring cycle, and I'm thinking of replacing one of my reference writers with one of my PhD committee members (I'll call him ...

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