Recommendation policy - for students

Large portions of this document were borrowed or inspired by Prof. Hoffman’s policy here.

This is primarily aimed at masters students applying for PhD programs, but you can use similar principles for other applications.

  1. Allow at least 2 weeks notice for the request.

  2. Put the recommendation deadline in the subject line of all e-mails.

    E.g., “Dec 1 deadline: recommendation request”. If there are multiple deadlines (see 4 below), put the first deadline in the subject.

  3. At least 1 week before the deadline, send in a single e-mail:

    • CV
    • Draft of your application essay (or 1-2 paragraphs about why you’re applying and how it fits into your short/long-term goals)
    • Coherent paragraphs that describe the key points of your work in the EO group including the larger context of the problem you’re working on, the specific aims within this context, and any details or accomplishments you’d like me to highlight.
    • Unofficial transcript of your grades/notes in courses
    • Information about the program you’re applying for
      • List of URLs (if applicable)
      • List of deadlines for letters
      • Information about how to submit the letters (electronic submission preferred)
      • Any forms that need to be filled out (Fill out all the fields you can)
  4. Multiple recommendations:

    If you need multiple recommendations of a similar type, please get all your information together in advance of the first deadline so that I can submit all recommendations in a single sitting. It is difficult for me to keep track of multiple automatic e-mails from different programs for different students spread out over days or weeks. If possible, click the web buttons to generate those automatic emails in a single sitting so they’re grouped in my inbox. Then send me a quick e-mail saying “You should have just received 3 automatically-generated recommendation requests from A, B and C. Let me know if you didn’t receive any of these.”

  5. You are responsible for sending reminders.

    I’ll try to let you know when I’ve submitted a recommendation, but you are ultimately responsible for making sure your application is complete. If the deadline is coming up soon, send me a polite reminder (in the same e-mail thread with all your details, attachmetns and information), and with the key deadline in the subject line and full list of schools in the body of the e-mail.

  6. Attention to detail:

    Your care in sending organised e-mails with useful subject lines and comprehensive information, as well as your ability to write coherent paragraphs about your goals and your work, form a part of my impression of your ability to communicate. Clear communication is essential for success in science. I am reluctant to strongly recommend people who do not demonstrate clear thinking and communication.