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Letter from someone with whom you have no formal relationship?

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     As I am thinking ahead about the admissions process and who to ask for rec letters, I have someone in mind who would probably be willing to write me a letter. He is a professor in a different country. The only thing is, we don't really have a formal relationship (he wasn't my supervisor, advisor, professor, etc). We've known each other for about 2 years now and have co-authored a few papers together, and will be writing a few more papers together soon and publishing them. 


    Is this someone from whom I can ask for a rec letter for Ph.D programs? 


     And English isn't his first language, so the letter will likely be rife with grammatical errors and typos. Would admissions committees hold that against me? 



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Your reference letters should be from someone who has an academic or employment relationship. Although research supervisor is often the best choice, it does not have to be so.


It is not clear to me what you mean by "formal" relationship. I would say that a "formal" relationship is not required (i.e. there does not need to be an official record of collaboration or advising between the two of you).


However, sometimes people ask about relationships like a professor who is a family friend, or a relative, etc. These relationships are not appropriate for LORs unless they also have an academic or employment relationship with you. Still, I know some people will warn against letters from someone who has both a personal and a professional relationship with you, so I would say those are decided on a case by case basis.

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In that case, I think it's more of an academic relationship, as we have written several papers together. 


Unfortunately, he's also someone who has a professional relationship and a personal relationship with me.

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