Since I have had to clarify this on numerous occasions to multiple people who’ve passed through my lab, this is a convenient place to put all these thoughts in one place. Also acknowledgement to the legendary John Eisen (of metagenomics fame) and his blog-post on exactly this topic.
1) Please email me your request atleast 1 week before your deadline to have sent it.
2) I need to see an updated CV (or resume) so that my facts about you are accurate. Please add your CGPA or grade or percentage in your last academic degree in the CV.
3) Mention the DATES FROM-TO that you have worked with me, especially if you are no longer in my lab. If you are still in my lab, please still mention your START date. You should add a brief summary what you did in that period (or are doing). If you submitted a report please share a link to it.
4) If you took my course mention which months, year and course code. Feel free to mention what grade you obtained.
5) Please clarify what is the name/title and nature of the position that you are applying for. Specify the potential role you will play in it, if you were hired/recruited/placed. If a statement of purpose (SOP) is associated with it, please share the gist (summary) of it.
6) Provide all information I will need. For a brief moment, put yourself in my shoes. To be able to send the letter, you need to assist me- i.e.
- If it’s by email then provide me the address.
- If it’s as a hard copy then provide me the address of the recepient and whatever title-details are required.
- Often these letters need to be in certain formats. Please send me this. In short, make my work simpler, so I can help you more effectively.
- If the agency/organization/university has an online portal, please provide my name and email address ONLY AFTER you have taken my approval.
7) Providing a letter of recommendation is part of my job. It will be a recommendation and an honest assessment.
Your work with me or interactions in my class, depending on whether you worked with me or took my courses, will determine the nature of what I write. Think of it as कर्म
9) Should you choose to ask for letters from phd-student/technicians/project assistants/postdocs in the lab, please find out from the agency that has requested them what criteria they use for determining the appropriateness of the letter. Typically for academic/research positions a supervisory role is required, but not essential for obtaining recommendations.
10) Please do not add me as a referee without asking me first.