42

If I got such a letter, I would interpret it positively. The comment about improving your writing actually supports the main, overall, view, since it is obviously an honest appraisal. If this person can predict success for you overall, that is likely to be heard. Sometimes an "overly" positive letter might be discounted as a sort of boilerplate ...


36

It doesn't have to be only people who've observed your research work. Pick instructors who know you from classes where you did well. Best if it was a small upper division class with especially relevant content and where the instructor got to know you well, e.g., in office hours, and can report some detailed observations of your work and ability.


9

Good PhD candidates aren’t necessarily the ones who have lots of research experience. What you want are referees who will not repeat information that you already supply on your CV or that is already supplied in your transcript. Given that you are early in your career, nobody expects you will necessarily have 3 referees that will speak to your research ...


7

It depends on the person who reads the letter, that is mostly, your potential advisor. Some advisors have a rather "hands-off" approach and prefer to work with students who get up to speed fairly independently - such an advisor might not want to work with you on your writing. Some advisors have more of a "hands-on" approach and like to ...


4

I'd be hesitant if you would have only recommendation letters from your Bachelor, but this is not the case. Your first recommendation letter comes from your Master Thesis supervisor, which is good. On top of that, I would prefer to hear from someone else who has worked closely with you for an extended period of time. Hence, a supervisor from another thesis ...


4

It is a bit odd, though not unheard of to be asked to draft a letter. Under the circumstances you list, I'd suggest the first option. It is a difficult task, of course. You want it to be honest and it is easy to stray into being either too positive, hence not believable, or too negative. Focus on the facts if you write it. I'd suggest that you first write a ...


4

This is clearly a judgment call, but upon reflection my advice is for you not to read the letter. There is a tiny chance that the student wrote -- presumably unintentionally -- something that you won't like, but that is really going to hit hard in the present context. (Long ago a faculty member wrote a recommendation letter for me and it got accidentally ...


3

You are correct that the second letter isn't very strong, but at least it supports the recommendation of the other letter. So, it implies some consensus about your abilities, which is a plus. Your call, of course, but I see no reason not to send both.


3

You don't mention if English is your first language. I agree very much with Buffy's answer -- but if English isn't your first language, you might ask if the recommender can attest to having no problems communicating with you. This isn't a tremendous issue, as you've just completed a degree in an English-speaking country, which allays many concerns, but if ...


2

From what you have told us, you have been promised a good academic recommendation with reservations regarding your writing skills. This will be considered a good letter, with one bad aspect. Looking at your four previous questions in this forum, I see two things. You appear to be of Indian origin. And your written English, though pretty good for a ...


2

What’s wrong with just talking to them about your plans, and asking them to be discreet about this until you make them public? If they can’t respect that I doubt they will provide good peer references.


1

Caveat I was trained in physics, not social work, so I can give you some general thoughts from my perspective, but someone in your field will give you better advice. I also hope you get multiple answers from this so you get a variety of perspectives to think about, since I am sure there is no single right answer to this kind of question. In fact, before ...


1

Given your field, it might not matter a lot, but don't miss the purpose of "redundant" letters. It isn't that they might say the same thing, but that they are from independent people that makes them important. Otherwise, a single letter would do. What you want heard by the committee is that you have a high probability of success in the program and ...


1

Supervisor of BSc definitely would be a stronger option than some prof from the local university course. I don't see why wouldn't they remember you, really (it depends on the personality, of course, but most would) - on top of that, they would probably be delighted to hear from you and learn that you are on a good track towards PhD. Win/win!


1

Given that this is the most common situation, it is unlikely that it is a negative. In fact, since US doctoral admissions in US are normally by committee it might not make a lot of difference even if they do know someone. Admissions isn't based on personal contacts but on the record of the candidate and a judgement of the likelihood of their success. Members ...


1

I think the reliance on letters of recommendation for admission to graduate programs in the U.S. educational system (which is not at all homogeneous, and is not really organized in any way), is substantially due to the general breadth-but-shallowness of all (to my knowledge) undergrad degree program requirements, plus the wildly varying resources of all the ...


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