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Short Description: things are said in letters of recommendation. Therefore, I am providing you with an example of three kinds of letters for a ...

Content Inside: SAMPLE RECOMMENDATION LETTERS Prepared by Richard E. Hughes, Ph.D. Many students come to me to do research, and many of them ask me later for letters of recommendation. I see this as a very important part of my job. I want to write the most outstanding letter for you - a letter that will open doors for you. I have written these kinds of letters for undergraduates, graduate students, and medical students. A lot of students do not have a concrete idea of what kinds of things are said in letters of recommendation. Therefore, I am providing you with an example of three kinds of letters for a hypothetical student (Mr. Smith): (1) a mediocre letter; (2) a good letter, and (3) an outstanding letter. I want to write an outstanding letter for you. The key is for you to get an outstanding letter is to exhibit outstanding qualities during your time in my research group so I can write about them. Please read these three example letters and reflect on what sort of effort it will take to demonstrate the qualities so that I can write an outstanding letter for you. If you are excited about putting sufficient energy and creativity into a project for me to write an outstanding letter for you, then please join our team. If you only want to put in the effort to achieve a mediocre or good letter, you may want to explore an opportunity in some other research lab. Mediocre letter In truth, mediocre letters are actually bad letters. Since nobody every writes an outright bad letter, everyone experienced in reading letters of recommendation know that a mediocre letter is the worst thing that could be said about an applicant. Dear Selection Committee, I am writing to recommend Mr. Smith for your program. I know Mr. Smith because he worked in my lab for one summer. Mr. Smith was given a project to work on. He was in the lab the amount of time required by the program that was funding him. He was diligent in his work, and he completed all assignments. I met with him regularly to detail the work that needed to be completed. Mr. Smith is a personable young person, and it was a pleasure to have him in the lab. In summary, I recommend Mr. Smith for your program. Sincerely, Richard Hughes, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Good letter The following is a good letter, and it may actually help Mr. Smith. Dear Selection Committee, I am writing this letter to strongly recommend Mr. Smith for your program. I know Mr. Smith because he worked in my lab for one summer. Mr. Smith came to me a year ago to discuss the possibility of spending a summer working in my lab. I met with him and outlined a project. I gave him some background reading at our first meeting. By the time of our second meeting he had read what I had given him and prepared a two-page project description. This level of effort is typical of a good medical student who joins my lab, so I agreed to take him on for a summer. During his time in my lab, Mr. Smith demonstrated a good work ethic and interpersonal skills. We outlined a scope of work to be completed, and he successfully completed that work in the time required. He put in extra hours as necessary in order to meet specific deadlines that I set. I teamed him up with another student to work on the project. He seemed to work well with the other student, and I found him very personable. Mr. Smith put in sufficient work to be a co-author on a manuscript. Overall, I would strongly recommend Mr. Smith for a position in your program. Sincerely, Richard Hughes, Ph.D. Assistant Professor

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