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.