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  1. #1
    Plumage and Moult proteanmix's Avatar
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    Default An ethical question regarding academic recommendations

    My brother and several friends have suggested to me that when getting recommendations for grad school to write the recommendation myself and have the person I'm getting the recommendation sign it. All of them have had people they've gotten recommendations from tell them to do this (they're busy, don't have time, deadline is soon approaching) and they just sign it.

    I personally don't have a problem with it cause I'd write myself a bomb ass recommendation, but my nagging inferior introverted judgment is telling me this is deceptive. I'm learning towards if other people are doing it then...

    So is writing your own recommendation OK if the person who you ask to write it sanctions it? Do you think schools would view this as dishonest if both people are complicit?
    Relationships have normal ebbs and flows. They do not automatically get better and better when the participants learn more and more about each other. Instead, the participants have to work through the tensions of the relationship (the dialectic) while they learn and group themselves and a parties in a relationships. At times the relationships is very open and sharing. Other time, one or both parties to the relationship need their space, or have other concerns, and the relationship is less open. The theory posits that these cycles occur throughout the life of the relationship as the persons try to balance their needs for privacy and open relationship.
    Interpersonal Communication Theories and Concepts
    Social Penetration Theory 1
    Social Penetration Theory 2
    Social Penetration Theory 3

  2. #2
    Senior Member Nighthawk's Avatar
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    I'd be a bit troubled by writing my own letters of recommendation ... but that's not to say I wouldn't do it if the person signing the letter gave me the OK. I've run into that situation a few times in my life. I figure if the person signing the letter is comfortable with it's content, then it is legitimate. I usually present them with a draft first and ask them to make comments on it. Then I rework the draft into something that is more in keeping with their thoughts.

  3. #3
    now! in shell form INA's Avatar
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    I can understand your concern; never done that and it would make me uncomfortable. If the person wanted me to do it, I could do it. But I wouldn't ask them first if they would sign my recommendation of myself.
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    insert random title here Randomnity's Avatar
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    I would do it only if I was asked by them, and I'd have them read it first. I wouldn't tell the school about it, they might decide to invalidate it.

    Luckily this situation hasn't come up for me yet since the people I asked to write my letters for grad school didn't have a problem with writing them.
    -end of thread-

  5. #5
    On a mission Usehername's Avatar
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    I've never heard of this, but I come from a smaller liberal arts institution rather than a massive university.
    *You don't have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.
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  6. #6
    Feline Member kelric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by proteanmix View Post
    So is writing your own recommendation OK if the person who you ask to write it sanctions it? Do you think schools would view this as dishonest if both people are complicit?
    I think Nighthawk's idea of writing a draft and then having them make comments and revising might be the best route to go, if your recommendation-people are telling you they don't have time.

    My guess is that the school would be very likely to consider this as dishonest, even if the recommender told you to do it (I work at a University that requires such things). But my guess is that they're also likely to downgrade or discard your app if you say "I have people willing to recommend me, but they don't have time to write letters - they signed off on this <your letter>". The whole idea behind these is that *you* didn't see it, and that the recommender is being candid (but seriously - it's probably false at least as often as true). In this case, I think the best you can do is work with the people willing to recommend you and make sure that there's as much of their input as possible. If they ask you in an interview about the letter, I'd be honest and say that you worked on it with the recommender.

    It's a bit of a sticky situation, I think - schools tend to overstate the eagerness of people to take time (time they don't have, often) to write this sort of application-stuff - even for students they think highly of.
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  7. #7
    pathwise dependent FDG's Avatar
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    I've heard about it, but usually the professor gives an outline/draft, and then asks you to write it in full?
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  8. #8
    Plumage and Moult proteanmix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kelric View Post
    It's a bit of a sticky situation, I think - schools tend to overstate the eagerness of people to take time (time they don't have, often) to write this sort of application-stuff - even for students they think highly of.
    Yeah, you're right. I was at a law school fair this weekend and the recruiters kept saying your undergrad grades don't matter as long as your essay and recommendations are stellar. Recommendations are basically form letters and based upon the writing skills of the person you're asking the recommendation from. I remember opening one of my high school recommendations when I was going off to college and I was like, damn is that all you have to say? It was bland, but that could've been how the person felt about me, idk.

    I would really rather write it myself and have the person agree or disagree and add their own reasons why and why not. I think this way of doing stimulates the person's thought processes about my qualities which would end up being more beneficial in the end or this is how I've rationalized it in my head.

    Quote Originally Posted by FDG View Post
    I've heard about it, but usually the professor gives an outline/draft, and then asks you to write it in full?
    I know my brother wrote a couple of his own recommendations, emailed them to his recommenders and they sent it off to the school. Changes could have been made, so I'm not sure.

    My friends wrote it themselves, sent it to their recommenders and it came back to them to send off with no edits or changes.

    This is something that's happened several times for internships and school.
    Relationships have normal ebbs and flows. They do not automatically get better and better when the participants learn more and more about each other. Instead, the participants have to work through the tensions of the relationship (the dialectic) while they learn and group themselves and a parties in a relationships. At times the relationships is very open and sharing. Other time, one or both parties to the relationship need their space, or have other concerns, and the relationship is less open. The theory posits that these cycles occur throughout the life of the relationship as the persons try to balance their needs for privacy and open relationship.
    Interpersonal Communication Theories and Concepts
    Social Penetration Theory 1
    Social Penetration Theory 2
    Social Penetration Theory 3

  9. #9
    full of love Kingfisher's Avatar
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    i don't like the idea of it in theory.
    but in reality i think it is not a big deal. i think it's completely fine to just write it and forget about it.

    it is not enough of a moral dilemma that i would bother to demand the professor write it them self. but that would probably be the noble thing to do.

    and yeah, if your professor is not going to take the time to draft a well-written recommendation, then write it yourself so you know it's quality.

  10. #10

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    I was taken aback when one of my old professors asked be to partially write one as a "reminder" to who I was.

    He had a form: My grade, what I did in class that I think would have made me memorable to him, level of class participation, and anything else.

    I have no Idea what he sent to my grad school. It could have been a rehash of what I sent him, or it could have just served as a trigger for his memory. I don't know.

    He didn't decide to write my recommendation till I sent him that form. To be honest, I would have done something similar in his case.

    I had him as a professor 5 years before I asked him to write a rec.

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