Glencora Borradaile

         Associate Professor & College of Engineering Dean's Professor, School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Oregon State University

November 7, 2010

Writing reference letters

Filed under: Silent Glen Speaks @ 4:39 pm
Tags: ,

I was just sitting down to write the first1 reference letter that I have ever written and realized that I have never read a reference letter and have little idea of what should go into one.  This particular letter is for a graduate student applying for a fellowship.  Short post, but any suggestions?

Maybe I should start tweeting.

1 This is actually the third reference letter I’ve written, but the first was to be read by a close friend in the math department and the second was to be read by me.

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  1.   Mugizi — November 7, 2010 @ 5:54 pm    

    My basic guideline: Be as positive as I can while still being truthful.

    i.e If I can’t honestly say the student was one of the best in the class then I’ll say he/she was one of the most hardworking, or asked the toughest questions, or had the most creative answers – whatever seems truthful.

    I usually ask them to draft the letter and give it to me to edit. It helps avoid procrastination and sometimes brings up information I didn’t know about.

  2.   Atri Rudra — November 8, 2010 @ 6:52 am    

    I found Mike Ernst‘s advice page on writing recommendation letters useful.

  3.   Anon — November 8, 2010 @ 7:02 am    

    You should know this page…

  4.   someone — November 9, 2010 @ 2:57 am    

    The feed reader is not working.

  5.   Glencora — November 21, 2010 @ 11:33 am    

    Thanks for the pointers. Letters written. New skill attempted.

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