Supplemental letter of rec from postdoc?

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Joined: Sat Dec 09, 2017 8:41 pm

Supplemental letter of rec from postdoc?

Post by thecrystallineentity » Sat Dec 09, 2017 8:45 pm

I already have 3 letters of rec from professors I have worked with/know me well, but I have only been doing my current research for ~6 months and do not work closely with my advisor, so I'm not sure how strong his letter will be. I have been working far more directly with a post-doc who is the co-PI of the project, and whose letter I would be far more confident about. Is it a good idea to have him write a supplemental 4th letter?
Thanks for any advice

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Re: Supplemental letter of rec from postdoc?

Post by TakeruK » Sat Dec 09, 2017 10:46 pm

The risk of having a 4th letter is that some people might just read three letters (especially if the instructions say 3) and they might not pick the best three. Also some schools won't allow an extra letter either.

What you should do instead is to ask the postdoc and PI to joint-write the letter. It could be a formal joint letter (signed by both) or, more commonly, the postdoc can provide notes to the PI and the PI writes the letter incorporating these notes. I have been on both ends of this, as a student working mostly with a lab manager and getting a letter from the prof (whom I only met in person twice and through weekly telecons since they were away on sabbatical). In addition, when I was a grad student supervising an undergrad project, the letter came from the professor with notes from me since a letter from a prof is always much better.

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