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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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213 votes
14 answers
41k 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-...
Anonymous_professor's user avatar
112 votes
11 answers
28k 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? ...
JezusIsWatfhing's user avatar
108 votes
18 answers
15k 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)...
user6480's user avatar
  • 949
80 votes
7 answers
10k 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 ...
Nate Eldredge's user avatar
79 votes
5 answers
96k 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 ...
Yes's user avatar
  • 7,684
78 votes
6 answers
22k 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 ...
SSimon's user avatar
  • 3,669
76 votes
7 answers
50k 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 ...
hesson's user avatar
  • 1,052
71 votes
5 answers
4k 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 ...
frazzled0198759's user avatar
65 votes
11 answers
13k views

What do I do if I cannot give a good reference to my PhD student?

I've seen several questions from students about bad supervisor references but this is on the other side. I have a PhD student whose priority during their PhD was family (had two children in 3 years) ...
electrique's user avatar
  • 7,534
64 votes
11 answers
22k 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. ...
user14802's user avatar
  • 1,775
64 votes
3 answers
13k 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. ...
Vladhagen's user avatar
  • 18.9k
63 votes
5 answers
19k 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 ...
Sana's user avatar
  • 6,778
61 votes
4 answers
35k 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 ...
Bravo's user avatar
  • 23.1k
59 votes
2 answers
8k 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 ...
Mat.S's user avatar
  • 823
56 votes
10 answers
30k 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 ...
BBBB's user avatar
  • 521
55 votes
3 answers
22k 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 ...
dbluesk's user avatar
  • 1,591
54 votes
5 answers
23k 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 ...
Abe's user avatar
  • 3,305
50 votes
5 answers
15k 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 ...
SuperHeroY's user avatar
  • 1,007
49 votes
10 answers
9k views

How to avoid writing a 'good but not great' reference letter

I am from Asia and I am writing a reference letter for my student for PhD applications to US universities. Given the culture differences, I am afraid that I may write too conservative and hurt my ...
Mahali Sindy's user avatar
  • 1,529
49 votes
8 answers
22k 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, ...
zipirovich's user avatar
48 votes
6 answers
15k views

A student who asked me to write a rec letter seems to have committed academic dishonesty in my class, what do I do?

A student (let's call them A) in my class that I just finished teaching asked me to write them a recommendation letter. I said yes, and the first deadline is Dec 15, as they often are (FYI, I'm ...
user10408's user avatar
  • 1,573
48 votes
5 answers
39k 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 ...
mweiss's user avatar
  • 2,141
48 votes
4 answers
13k 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 ...
Valentin's user avatar
  • 939
47 votes
3 answers
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 ...
user avatar
44 votes
1 answer
26k 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 ...
Scott Seidman's user avatar
43 votes
6 answers
35k 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: [...
Freddie's user avatar
  • 925
43 votes
6 answers
12k 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. ...
Bravo's user avatar
  • 23.1k
42 votes
8 answers
13k 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 ...
Simon's user avatar
  • 603
42 votes
3 answers
13k 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 ...
Mario K's user avatar
  • 423
40 votes
4 answers
7k 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, ...
No One's user avatar
  • 4,240
39 votes
5 answers
13k views

Writing letter of recommendation for someone I have never met

I'm a first year PhD student. A student applying for an undergraduate institution in the US has asked me to write him a letter of recommendation. I wonder if a first year graduate student can write ...
CSguy2020's user avatar
  • 391
39 votes
4 answers
5k 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 ...
Three Diag's user avatar
  • 4,069
38 votes
5 answers
6k 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 ...
smv's user avatar
  • 381
37 votes
7 answers
35k 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 ...
I Like to Code's user avatar
37 votes
3 answers
4k 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 ...
user9805's user avatar
  • 353
37 votes
1 answer
32k 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 ...
aeismail's user avatar
  • 174k
36 votes
3 answers
4k 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 ...
If you do not know- just GIS's user avatar
36 votes
5 answers
19k 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 ...
monika's user avatar
  • 361
35 votes
11 answers
13k 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 ...
Our's user avatar
  • 4,169
35 votes
7 answers
7k views

What are the best practices for writing a letter of recommendation for an absolutely excellent student?

I’m writing my first recommendation letter for a student (for grad school) who is excellent. I’d like to, thus, write a very good recommendation letter. Are there informal guidelines for writing ...
pve's user avatar
  • 359
35 votes
5 answers
12k 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 ...
Clarinetist's user avatar
  • 1,289
34 votes
10 answers
17k 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 ...
Kaya311's user avatar
  • 684
34 votes
3 answers
7k views

Letter of Recommendation From A Coach

I was recently asked to write a letter of recommendation for a young women that I coach for a sport. I am aware that she is a good student, however my only interaction with her is through coaching. ...
Anthony's user avatar
  • 451
34 votes
4 answers
15k 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 ...
F'x's user avatar
  • 73.4k
34 votes
5 answers
17k 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 ...
user6670's user avatar
  • 634
33 votes
7 answers
23k 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 ...
John's user avatar
  • 536
33 votes
5 answers
16k 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 ...
ceoec's user avatar
  • 621
33 votes
5 answers
7k 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 ...
anubis's user avatar
  • 545
32 votes
4 answers
7k views

Why are recommendation letters highly relied upon?

For any kind of academic application (from graduate admission to professor position), recommendation letters have a major impact on the outcome. The basic idea is understandable: discovering what ...
Googlebot's user avatar
  • 7,655
32 votes
2 answers
6k 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 ...
Milos's user avatar
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