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LOR from a family member?


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Is it ever ok to have a recommendation from a family member?

Obviously, the person would be expected to disclose their relationship. But would the assumed bias of a familial connection just squander the letter being taken seriously? I'm in a bit of a pickle here. I've been doing great work with my father, who is in my proposed PhD field of study, for the past 2 years after my MA. I know he could honestly write some insightful things in a letter, and he has offered to do so. I don't want to jeopardize my application being taken seriously.

The obvious answer here is to ask someone else closely affiliated with our work to write the letter. I really can't think of anyone of the same caliber (both in terms of academic seniority and daily professional knowledge of my work) who I am associated with right now who could vouch for me.

Is this a no-no regardless? What might make it acceptable?

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avoid it if you can. Because the father/child relationship is as direct as you can conceivably get, the assumption of bias will be gigantic.

A lot of schools require 3 letters but will take more. You can ask him to be your 4th as a supplemental writer. Your 3 'official' letter writers should not be directly related to you.

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You should try asking around, but I think it is really a no-no regardless. My parents are both in a field of study fairly close to mine, and I was advised during the application process to avoid mentioning them whenever possible. I think it was good advice. I also recently heard of an applicant whose parent, a prestigious researcher in the same field, had played a large role in supporting the applicant's eduction -- which, together with the applicant's less-than-great GRE score, was interpreted as evidence that the applicant was incapable of success when left to his/her own devices. That's the sort of impression you risk creating if you get your father involved in your application. I think it is important to make it clear that your success is due to your talent, motivation, and hard work, and not just to some kind of luck or endowment -- and having a letter from a parent undermines that image.

Edited by socialpsych
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