Recommendation letters

 

I often receive quite a number of requests for recommendation letters. I fully understand that a letter is really important for applications for graduate schools, internship, fellowship, awards, and jobs. I also feel that I am very honored to write letters for you, and it is one of my important responsibilities as a researcher. I am always more than happy to help you by writing a strong letter. But for this, your cooperation is necessary. If you help me more, I can help you more. To make the letter writing process easier for both of us, I have some rules for recommendation letters.

This webpage is inspired by Scott Klemmer’s instructions for students.

Basic rules

The following rules apply for everyone who is asking me for letters.

  • Please ask me for recommendation letters at least a month before the deadline. Please ask me even much earlier if you have many applications (e.g,. when you are applying for grad schools or jobs). Sooner is always better because I can plan out my schedule to secure a sufficient amount of time for writing strong letters for you.
  • Do not offer me any thank-you gift. This is quite important because receiving gifts could be considered as bribe, and it could negatively impact on your case. Instead of offering gifts, just return to me by your work. Do great job on research, and inspire other people including me. In that way, I would feel really happy. 🙂

 

For graduate school applications

When you apply for graduate schools, you will likely apply for many schools (10 — 20 or even more) rather than a couple of schools. This is totally fine because admissions at graduate schools are always very competitive. But this means that you have to plan out well in advance.Send one email that contains all of the information I need to write the letters.

Send one email that contains all of the information I need to write the letters.

  • Summarize your work succinctly. Include some projects where you made substantial contributions, demonstrated performance or you are very proud of. Provide what you have done specifically in each of your projects. Summarize your work beginning with the most important contributions, not chronologically.
  • Attach your CV/resume, and your statement of purpose (which does not need to be a final version, but at least readable).
  • Add a link to a shared spreadsheet that contains information about all schools you are applying for in the following format:
    • The first column should list the deadlines (Month/Day/Year).
    • The second should be schools (not abbreviations).
    • The third column should be the department or collage name.
    • The fourth column should be the group/lab name (if exists).
    • The fifth column should be the program name (either Masters or Ph.D.).
    • The sixth column should be the names of professors you would like to work with (up to three).
    • The seven column should be the link to the department website.
    • The eighth column should be the way to send a letter (e.g., by email, or via website). If it needs to be sent by email, specify the recipient address.
    • If you have any particular thing you want to let me know, you put it in the last column as a note.
  • If a school requires a specific format or template for letters, please send it to me as well, and add a note in the spreadsheet.

With respect to how to write the statement of purpose, the following links would be very useful.

 

For job applications

Job applications are somewhat similar to grad school applications: when you apply, you will likely apply for many positions (10 — 20 or even more). So prepare the following things for me, and I would appreciate them.Send one email that contains all of the information I need to write the letters.

Send one email that contains all of the information I need to write the letters.

  • Attach your CV/resume, your research statement, and your teaching statement (if you apply for schools).
  • Add a link to a shared spreadsheet that contains information about all schools you are applying for in the following format:
    • The first column should list the deadlines (Month/Day/Year).
    • The second should be schools/institutes/laboratories (not abbreviations).
    • The third column should be departments and/or groups.
    • The fourth column should be the name of the position (e.g., full-time employee, post-doc, visiting researcher, etc).
    • The fifth column should be the link to the website of this job call (not the top page of a university or company).
    • The sixth column should be the way to send a letter (e.g., by email, or via website). If it needs to be sent by email, specify the recipient adddress.
    • If you have any particular thing you want to let me know, you put it in the last column as a note.
  • If a company or institute requires a specific format or template for letters, please send it to me as well, and add a note in the spreadsheet.

 

For internship applications

Internship is a great opportunity for students to experience a different research project with different people at a different environment. When you need a letter from me for internship application, please do:Send one email that contains all of the information I need to write the letters.

Send one email that contains all of the information I need to write the letters.

  • Summarize your work succinctly. Include some projects where you made substantial contributions, demonstrated performance or you are very proud of. Provide what you have done specifically in each of your projects. Summarize your work beginning with the most important contributions, not chronologically.
  • Attach your CV/resume.
  • Give me the name of the laboratory and group, names of people who you would like to work with, and due date.
  • If your application requires a specific format or template for letters, please send it to me as well.

 

For fellowship/Award applications

Fellowship and awards are great ways to get funded. Having some money would never hurt your life and research. Whenever you have a chance, I would strongly encourage to apply. When you need a letter from me for these applications, please do:Send one email that contains all of the information I need to write the letters.

Send one email that contains all of the information I need to write the letters.

  • Summarize your work succinctly. Include some projects where you made substantial contributions, demonstrated performance or you are very proud of. Provide what you have done specifically in each of your projects. Summarize your work beginning with the most important contributions, not chronologically.
  • Attach your CV/resume.
  • Give me the name of the fellowship/award, and due date.
  • If your application requires a specific format or template for letters, please send it to me as well.