Does it matter who the recommendation letter is from?

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I am a physics undergraduate student hoping to apply to grad school in the future. While my current research professor of a year is wonderful and will no doubt provide a great letter of recommendation, my previous research professor has a negative reputation around the department (I thought he was fine but other professors complained about personality, apparently is often very rude) and, more importantly, I am unsure whether or not he will give me a good rec (initial work went okay, mentioned possible publication, but halfway through the semester he stopped contacting me and ceased work suddenly). I have others I could ask for a rec letter, but I have research credit with him on my transcript. Unsure of publication status. Should I ask him if he can provide a strong letter of recommendation?
 

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  • #2
Choppy
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The only way to know if he'll write you a decent reference letter is to ask him. Usually people won't lie about these things. You might want to follow up with him anyway if the work just ceased and you have no idea if any of it will ever be published.

For what it's worth, typically I think graduate schools are looking for at least one reference who can evaluate you from the point of view of having supervised you through some kind of research project or contribution. It's nice if there are more, but if this person's reference is going to be a questionable evaluation of your true attributes, it's probably a better idea to look elsewhere.
 

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