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Despite having done it quite a few times before, I always get a funny

  1. Jan 13, 2009 #1
    Despite having done it quite a few times before, I always get a funny feeling about asking people for references. I want to ask two questions (which I believe many people have):

    1. How many reference requests does the average faculty get? What is their usual reaction to being asked?

    2. People always worry that the referees they're asking don't know them very well. Is this a universal feeling?

    -----------​

    Often, these questions can be answered just by placing yourself in their shoes. For example, if a student asked me for a reference, usually I'd be happy to help, for their success reflects well on my research and teaching. Then again, this knowledge doesn't seem to comfort me...

    Perhaps your answers will.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 14, 2009 #2
    Re: References

    Once a teacher writes a rec letter for you, they usually only swap out unique aspects of that letter when they have to. In a sense, they only write one letter, so I personally think it isn't that bad.

    "People always worry that the referees they're asking don't know them very well. Is this a universal feeling?"

    To be honest with you, I wouldn't ask someone for a reference unless they knew me pretty well, whether in the classroom, socially, athletically, etc.

    For the few letters I've written, I've been happy (even somewhat honored) to write a letter for them. But again, it depends on the person.
     
  4. Jan 15, 2009 #3
    Re: References

    Also:

    If they agree, it never hurts to give them a copy of your resume/CV. Frequently when i write letters I know the students pretty well and can include anecdotes from the classroom or from other experiences (like research or projects).. but it's nice to see the resume and get an overview (in case I get called... I keep these in a pretty accessible file for quick reference).
     
  5. Jan 15, 2009 #4
    Re: References

    Very good advice so far, and I'll add one more bit -

    When you're not sure, ask someone if they know you well enough to give you a reference, rather than asking for a reference directly. This is generally an easier way to ask , as it doesn't put someone in the position where they might feel bad about telling you 'no'. It also gives them the opportunity to get to know you a little better in the specific context if they do want to write the reference.
     
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