Requesting a reference

Please consider that a strong references requires that I know you well. It's not to your advantage if I wrote a letter based on only a few conversations or based on only your performance in class. A strong letter usually requires that the writer has worked with you for some time (e.g., because you were a research assistant or volunteer in the lab; because they were you coach; or because you've conducted your own research in collaboration with the writer). This applies particularly strongly if you are asking for a letter from a recommender who provides references for many people, possibly even multiple applicants that have the same program or position in mind that you're applying to. (e.g., I wrote over 90 last Fall semester often for people applying to the same positions).

A strong letter also takes time. If this is the first time you've been asking me for a recommendation letter or if more than 9 months have passed since the most recent letter request, please give me four weeks advance notice. If I've written a letter for you for the same type of position within the last 9 months two weeks advance notice will usually be sufficient. Please use my scheduler to book a 2h slot 2-4 weeks from now, during which I will write the letter. In order to write strong letters of recommendation, I find it hugely helpful to have access to the following information. Please provide this information in the meeting request (there will be a field to fill in additional information). Thank you!

  • Information about what you're applying to:
    • The deadline
    • A description of the program/job/intership and what (according to your perception of it) they are looking for
    • A URL with the program/job/intership description
  • Information about the applicant:
    • Your CV
    • Your research and, if required, teaching or personal statement
    • (especially, if you're applying to several opportunities) an indication of how much you want this. That is, if you're applying for several program/job/intership, is this your number one choice (as far as you know at this point in time)?
    • Who are your other letter writers and (if not familiar to me) what role to they play (advisor/co-advisor/collaborator)?

If you're planning to apply to several opportunities, I prefer --if at all possible-- if you can also provide an excel file that summarizes the above information for all places in one file. Thank you.