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How to write my OWN LOR

Discussion in 'Pre-Dental' started by CORNELL PreDent, May 8, 2008.

  1. CORNELL PreDent

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    I've shadowed my general dentist for a few years now. Recently, I decided it was about time that I asked him for a letter of recommendation. When I got around to asking him, he told me to write my own letter. He told me his English wasn't so good and I could probably write a better letter than he could on his own.

    Its been 2 weeks since I asked him, but I have no idea on how to start the paper. Does anyone have any advice for me? Has anyone had to write their own LOR's too?

    Any feedback would be GREATLY appreciated.
     
  2. jooyeon

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    I heard of this many times. I think it is a really good chance for you. You know you more than anybody else.^^ One of my friends applied to med-school, and her dad is an English professor, so he wrote the LOR and just got a signature from their physician.

    I would go to one of your English professor, since they can write in a more articulate manner or even a writing center in your school. You can request for high level writing like LORs.
     
  3. SMCohen

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    Hmm... I don't agree with the above poster. I don't see how your prof would be willing to compose an LOR for someone else - perhaps he/she means to say you should ask your English professor or Writing Centre to edit the LOR, instead of to write it?

    Why don't you start with a list of things you would like to include in the LOR, such as:
    - Attributes that would make you a good dentist
    - Procedures you've witnessed at the dental office
    - Any tasks you've performed at the dental office
    - Number of hours spent shadowing

    And then wrap it up with a positive statement about why you would be a good candidate for dental school.
     
  4. jfitzpat

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    Find someone else to write your letter or recommendation if he doesn't want to do it. It is unethical to do it yourself and then pawn it off as his words. Dentistry is an ethical profession and you should start off on the right foot.
     
  5. jigabodo

    Dentist 10+ Year Member

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    Although anonymous, I suggest tha you don't talk about this kind of things in a public forum.

    You never know, it can still come back and haunt you later.
     
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  6. DMDreaming

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    Here are a couple of things to consider when writing your own LOR.
    If you write your own, you should check the "I do not waive my right to access" box on the LOR matching form. This means you either have seen your LOR or you might like to see it in the future. This can be a problem. I know of several dental schools that will not consider LORs in which the applicant did not waive access. I don't know the reason for each school individually. However, I was told by Colorado, ASDOH, and Nebraska that they don't accept them because the evaluator may not have been as forthright and honest in the evaluation since the applicant could read it.
    You should consider this before you proceed. ​
     
  7. Cinnabans

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    I was asked to do this as well (not because of english deficiencies, rather just really busy) but after expressing my feeling of unease my professor told me he'd do it anyway. I talked to his lab manager (he was a research prof.) and she said that it is VERY common in the "real world" for the person you ask to write you a letter to ask you to at least draft a copy that they will either revise or just sign. I hadn't heard of this either but I'm not sure how unethical it really would have been had I wrote my own. I understand that side though and I guess that was the reason for my unease and ultimate denial.

    About the topic of to waiver or not: if you talked w/ your professor(s) about what they planned to write and they basically told you a good deal of what they were going to include, does that mean that you waived your right to access? (even if you didn't read the actual letter they send)
     
  8. SanOnofre2002

    SanOnofre2002 Huge member
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    I don't agree that it's unethical to write a LOR when asked to do so by the letter writer. And you can still check the "I waive my rights" block on the submition form. As long as the person signing the letter has a chance to read it and make any changes they desire, it's no different then giving them a glowing resume or autobiography to copy from. If they tell you to write it, sign their name (for them), and mail it off, that's where it becomes unethical. And checking that you waived your rights does not mean that you are not allowed to see it. It's completely up to the signed author to grant you this. So you can write the letter as they asked, give it to them, and still waive your rights to access the final product. If they choose to change anything, keep it verbatim, or let you read it afterwards, it's their prerogative because it's their signature that goes on it.
    And as someone mentioned, this situation isn't unusual at all in the "real world". It's actually a career for speachwriters, ghostwriters, and lawyers.
     
  9. DMDreaming

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    This is a good question. In this situation, I think we'd all like to believe our professors. But, they don't have to write what they said they were going to write. So, you didn't necessarily have access.
     
  10. SanOnofre2002

    SanOnofre2002 Huge member
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    It's completly fine. You are not signing that you did not read the letter, you are just giving up your right to read it. There's a difference.
     
  11. Cinnabans

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    Good point. Why is this being made into an ethical issue?
     
  12. jfitzpat

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    I disagree. The whole point of a letter of recommendation is for the person to give THEIR assessment of the student. By having the student write it, it undermines the whole purpose. It is a sign of laziness on the professor's part and a ethical lapse on the student's part.

    Would anyone here admit during an interview that they wrote the letter and the professor just signed it, but the admissions committee shouldn't worry because the professor had a chance to review it before it was sent. I doubt many would and there is a reason for that.

    I agree with you on the waiver stuff. It isn't that you haven't seen the letter, it's just that you waive access to it.
     
  13. Selso2109

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    Jfitzpat is correct regarding the ethics of the situation.
     
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  14. SanOnofre2002

    SanOnofre2002 Huge member
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    When they put their signature to it, it becomes their assessment. Would I want to announce during my interview that I drafted the letter before giving it to my dentist? Ofcourse not. Does that make the event unethical? No. When an interviewer asks you how you earned high grades do you emphasize that cram sessions the night before were a helpful factor? If they ask you to talk about yourself, do you divulge all of your inadequacies and character flaws? Does that make you unethical to leave that out? If the letter is legally signed by the dentist/professor, he is claimig those words as his opinion, whether he got them from your drafted letter, your self-provided biography, your verbal statements, or whatever the source may be. I don't intend to convince anyone that is uncomfortable with doing this to do so. But I also don't think it's accurate to describe this as unethical either.
    I'm curious as to where you draw the line for an ethical LOR. If your dentist asked you to provide an autobiography, would that be OK? What if he lifted several whole sentences from your paper? What if he didn't ask for anything and his letter made a claim that he had no way of knowing? For example, Dr Bob writes in your LOR "John is a creative and solutions-oriented person that is frequently able to come up with new and innovative approaches to assigned projects", but you don't recall doing anything but shadowing and listening? Would you throw the letter out and go looking for a new dentist? What if he just said you were a caring person but you don't recall displaying any such emotion?
    I think a few of you are a bit too quick to judge here. Having the student write a letter first is not the unethical certainty you make it out to be. Having a writer make a letter without input from you is an ideal situation that's not available to everyone. The adcoms are not going to quiz anyone on who drafted the letter. This is not an essay you're writing for a class to test your knowledge comprehension. If a dentist trusts the person to write it, and reads it and vouches for it by signing his name, it's a legitimate LOR.
     
  15. jfitzpat

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    We will obviously have to agree to disagree, but I stand by my assessment. To use your example, call up a school tomorrow and say, "oh, I have a 4.0 GPA, but I got it because I crammed, is that all right?" They would say that's fine. Call up a school and say "I wrote my own letter of recommendation and the guy just signed it, is that all right?". I guaruntee most schools would say that it is wrong and that means regardless of your opinion, you maybe should listen to them. But hey, maybe I'm wrong, some people obviously disagree. It clearly isn't as black and white as say cheating on a test, but I think it is wrong.

    As for where I draw the line. I draw the line at you doing their work for them. As in, you submitting to them something that could be used verbatim as your letter. I have never argued that it is plagarism, which is the issue you keep addressing. Obviously by signing it, they are taking credit. I think it is unethical because the school asked the PROFESSOR what they think of you and instead they are getting what YOU think of you. This not what they asked for nor is it what they should get.
     
  16. sl2obel2ts

    sl2obel2ts i like tomatoes
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    I think it is unethical to write your own lor, even though this happens pretty often. I was also asked to so several times, not just admission one but job recommendation and scholarship as well. It is a great chance to talk good stuff about yourself, but somewhere in my heart, something wasnt right. haha.

    I talked to an admissions staff once about this issue, I asked her what she thinks of writing one's own letter of rec. She actually said "I think it is okay, this means professor/writer trusts you and thats how we see it"

    so I guess it is okay.
     
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