How to choose which recommendation letter to use?

Post Reply
iquark
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Oct 17, 2019 11:23 am

How to choose which recommendation letter to use?

Post by iquark » Tue Oct 29, 2019 11:23 am

I have the dilemma of choosing between three possible letters. Note also that I am not an American and study abroad.

1. A professor with whom I worked for several months on a research project, so she knows me well. However, while I apply for physics programs the professor is a computer scientist and so was the work too. I am under the impression the physicists don't know how to treat this work (in my master's applications and interviews it seemed to raise no interest).

2. A professor who supervised me in a lab class where I devised and conducted a new experiment. The work was research-like, but it wan in an academic class settings, nothing that can be published. The professor knows me well but several years passed since.

3. A professor who taught me in several key graduate classes. He's a known physicists in his field, so he is probably the best name in this list. I didn't work on any research with him, but he knows me very well from his classes and our long discussions at reception hours.


My two other letters are from my master's thesis advisor, and my advisors in an international research internship, so it appears I have to go with just one of the above.
Last edited by iquark on Tue Oct 29, 2019 1:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Nishikata
Posts: 155
Joined: Sun Sep 23, 2018 6:37 am

Re: How to choose which recommendation letter to use?

Post by Nishikata » Tue Oct 29, 2019 1:11 pm

1. Might be good if you apply to a computational field. The letter can explain the link and significance of the project to relate with physics. You need to tell the prof about this so she will mention this point.

2. Uh, is the new experiment unique to you? If it is new and done by many other students in the same class then you need to have done something special. Else the credit goes to the prof who designed the experiment and not you.

3. Might be good, if his letter is elaborate and not just a standard/generic letter written to most of his students. (Busy profs may do this)

iquark
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Oct 17, 2019 11:23 am

Re: How to choose which recommendation letter to use?

Post by iquark » Wed Oct 30, 2019 2:32 am

Nishikata wrote:1. Might be good if you apply to a computational field. The letter can explain the link and significance of the project to relate with physics. You need to tell the prof about this so she will mention this point.

2. Uh, is the new experiment unique to you? If it is new and done by many other students in the same class then you need to have done something special. Else the credit goes to the prof who designed the experiment and not you.

3. Might be good, if his letter is elaborate and not just a standard/generic letter written to most of his students. (Busy profs may do this)
Thank you for your reply!

1. How would you approach this? My project was in the field of ML, which in general is of interest to physicists. However, the work itself involved extraction of information from textual data and relating it to images, not the usual tasks physicists handle.

2. It wasn't unique in principal, we (my lab partner and I) expanded upon previous work by working in more general settings. The topic was the professor's suggestion, but we had to go through the literature by ourselves and design the actual experiment and research question. In the class itself each couple worked on a different experiment.

3. I think he can write such a letter, hard to say if he will. Is there any way I can get a sense of what (and how) he intends to write?

User avatar
Nishikata
Posts: 155
Joined: Sun Sep 23, 2018 6:37 am

Re: How to choose which recommendation letter to use?

Post by Nishikata » Wed Oct 30, 2019 2:46 am

iquark wrote: 1. How would you approach this? My project was in the field of ML, which in general is of interest to physicists. However, the work itself involved extraction of information from textual data and relating it to images, not the usual tasks physicists handle.
I think it should be alright.
2. It wasn't unique in principal, we (my lab partner and I) expanded upon previous work by working in more general settings. The topic was the professor's suggestion, but we had to go through the literature by ourselves and design the actual experiment and research question. In the class itself each couple worked on a different experiment.
This suggests the same experiment might've been worked by previous cohorts.
I do not think this is original enough in the wider scheme. For a lab class, yes, but not so grand to be boasted externally.
3. I think he can write such a letter, hard to say if he will. Is there any way I can get a sense of what (and how) he intends to write?
Go talk to him and find out if he will. Be clear that you want him to include some points about you on the letter, and see his reactions.
You cannot see the letter or draft it yourself, so be mindful. You need to find out if he's someone you can trust with the letter, but after you decide that he is, then honor that trust.



Post Reply