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Application asking for five references - I don't have that many

  1. Dec 7, 2012 #1

    uby

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    I am considering applying for a tenure-track faculty appointment at the assistant professor level. The call for applications requests contact information for five references.

    In the past eight or so years, I have had two bosses (my PhD advisor and postdoc mentor) who will surely provide stellar recommendations. Beyond that, I haven't worked with many people who would know about my research or who have worked with me in a professional capacity.

    I can likely come up with two people whom I have worked with as additional points of contact (the lab supervisor from my grad group and a fellow postdoc at my current place of work), though their recommendations would not carry much weight. Furthermore, I cannot come up with a fifth reference aside from begging a former committee member whom I haven't had contact with for 2+ years and who likely won't remember me let alone details of my research.

    What would you do in this situation?
     
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  3. Dec 7, 2012 #2

    George Jones

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    I have never seen a request for five references. In my experience, three seems to be the most common, with four requested on occasion.

    As a grad student, did you work as a TA? As a postdoc, did you teach any courses?
     
  4. Dec 7, 2012 #3

    uby

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    I have seen requests for five references for senior-level appointments, but seldom for entry-level.

    My grad school was a large R1 university with one of the largest departments in the US. I did a fair bit of TA, but without lecture experience. Similarly, since my postdoc is with a federal agency rather than an academic institution, I do not currently have any teaching opportunities. This position would be expected to be research-intensive, and I expect that recommendations that can verify promise for soliciting external funding would be of higher value than those speaking towards my ability to teach.
     
  5. Dec 7, 2012 #4

    Vanadium 50

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    Does your supervisor have any colleagues at your place of employment?
     
  6. Dec 7, 2012 #5

    uby

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    V 50 -- I'm actually the only person trained in my specialty at my current place of employment. And, after a few rounds of layoffs, there's surprisingly few left even in my scientific discipline. The department to which I wish to apply is heavily focused in my specialty and my postdoc mentor is good friends with the search chair. Regardless, I worry that an application with less than the requested number of references could be rejected without further review.
     
  7. Dec 10, 2012 #6
    Why not call them ask ask for clarifications regarding the number of required references?
     
  8. Dec 13, 2012 #7

    uby

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    Aero51 - I've considered this, but I just can't think of any reasonable way to save face in this conversation. I can't imagine the search chair would be pleased to field a call regarding whether it would be acceptible if I do not follow the application instructions.
     
  9. Dec 13, 2012 #8
    You could try calling the secretary, I bet you're not the only one who's had that question. If you don't have all 5 from employers, why not use the remaining on coworkers who can vouch for your credibility. If you have no coworkers, then you have a very lonely job!
     
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