Send your recommenders the information they need right away!

Student.contemplating.grad.schoolThis is the time of year we write many letters of recommendation for faculty positions, for NSF predoctoral fellowships, and for many other things. I might have 5 letters to write at any given time.

This is a very important part of helping budding researchers move to the next position, so I do this and take it very seriously. So help me out. If you have applied for a job or a grant, you will have sent them material of some kind. I can write the best letter if I know exactly what you have told them.

Send this information to me the minute you ask me for a letter. This gives me maximum time to actually put together the best possible letter. Even if you are asking before you are done applying, still send me a draft. It is likely to be complete enough for the purposes of my letter, though it is fine if you update it.

Do not delay in sending me information! Do not assume I won’t do the letter until right before it is due! I will do it when it fits into the scraps of time I have for these letters. Do not make me beg you for the information.

Of course I am not the only one out there writing. I think I speak for all of us that we want you to help us as much as possible with this process.

Actually, I’m going to stop even asking. I am that tired of having to beg you for information that will help you when you have it right on your computer and for some reason did not send it to me. I write hundreds of letters a year for numbers of people that are pushing a hundred also. I like to make these letters personal and vivid. Help me out!


About Joan E. Strassmann

Evolutionary biologist, studies social behavior in insects & microbes, interested in education, travel, birds, tropics, nature, food; biology professor at Washington University in St. Louis
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2 Responses to Send your recommenders the information they need right away!

  1. Yan Li says:

    Does it mean we should prepare a draft of recommendation letter when asking someone to write the letter for us? Thanks

    • A full draft is usually not a good idea. What is useful is facts of things your letter writer might to know. what courses you took, grades, any special projects or papers. Something you did in class specifically. Leave out any commentary about things like how good you are.

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