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tomkat0789

Writing a Letter of Recommendation for myself

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I am shocked to see that there are academics that think plagiarism is "nonsense" .

 

I am more concerned with academics and laypeople calling everything under the sun as plagiarism. There is nothing about this that can qualify as plagiarism. 

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In a similar vein, how do y'all feel about this scenario -- plagiarism, or no?

 

I've done that for my research assistants too.

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As others have pointed out, the bigger concern for me is that the professor in question can't take 5 minutes to write a letter that is, for all intents and purposes, a formality. It just seems very depersonalized, like they don't actually care enough. 

 

Writing LORs is part of your adviser's job. You shouldn't have to do that work for them.

 

Re: sending your CV/application materials so the letter writer has something to work from, yeah, that's pretty common, and I would not call that plagiarism, especially when the professor in question isn't your primary adviser. 

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FWIW, I agree with GeoDUDE! and others who find the scenario described in the OP problematic. Confidentiality is vital to the integrity of LORs. For that reason, many professors will not write for a student who doesn't wave his/her right to view the letter. Allowing a student to draft substantial portions of a letter blurs a line that should be avoided. Disagree? Think about yourself as an established professional fifteen years from now. How much trust will you place in any LORs if you knew that it was commonplace that the person who signed the letter actually didn't write it? Would you be willing to invest your personal and professional reputation in the subject of that letter?

 

An aside. I think some of you are being unduly combative towards each other and I think you should consider the advantages of toning it down.

 

Can we stop with the histrionics? Writing a letter for an internal grant is a minor piece of clerical work, not a publication.

 

IMO, the appropriate response to a direct quote from an established professional academic is to provide contrasting quotes that advance the argument, not to attempt to belittle the messenger's POV with characterizations of "cherry picking" and "histrionics" and "nonsense."  

 

Additionally, I believe you are assuming that the process of awarding travel grants at your institution is the same as at the OP's. Do you have evidence that your assumption is sustainable? Might there be additional factors that have not yet been disclosed by the OP, or of which the OP is unaware? (For example, the specific configuration of departmental politics, professional rivalries, and personal relationships.) Are common practices at your institution in fact best practices or are they actually sources of controversy (i.e. grade inflation)?

 

@bhr, what you did as an employer is not relevant to the discussion at hand -- the Ivory Tower plays by a different set of rules. While copypasta with a side of boilerplate may be a favorite combo in corporate America, many academics read for indications that the person who wrote a LOR does not, in fact, know the student or his/her work that well after all.

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Given that writing your own LOR is at most plagiarism and in the least unethical, how would you respond to faculty members who request a draft?

 

"I'm sorry, that's plagiarism. You'll have to write it yourself."

 

If that letter gets written, at all, I'm sure it would be a stellar recommendation.

 

How do you confront unethical/lazy/uncomfortable requests in the power structure that is academia?

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Given that writing your own LOR is at most plagiarism and in the least unethical, how would you respond to faculty members who request a draft?

 

"I'm sorry, that's plagiarism. You'll have to write it yourself."

 

If that letter gets written, at all, I'm sure it would be a stellar recommendation.

 

How do you confront unethical/lazy/uncomfortable requests in the power structure that is academia?

 

I would try to reason with them: Giving them a bullet point list of things they may want to highlight is a lot different then writing the letter itself. But, I think mostly the faculty is at fault and not the student. Its just wise to know what you are getting into: I personally would find another person (and have). 

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I took the middle ground and gave an outline of my accomplishments and things I'd like to see mentioned. No need to outright write the whole thing.

This was harder for an non-English speaker advisor, and I'm interested in seeing how often international advisors have their students write recs in English.

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This looks very unethical! I would beware of this. The reason why you ask for recommendation is that they write how they feel about you not how you feel about yourself (that is what the SOP is for). Even if it is for a small grant it is a Proff's responsibility to do this!

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