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Research Professor Refuses to write recommendation letter

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joker1212

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Hey Guys,

Basically, I've been working for my research professor for about two years now, and yesterday I emailed her asking for a letter of rec for med school. I was a little hesitant because I haven't been the most consistent volunteer, especially last semester when I was studying for my mcat / taking classes and had to stop going for a few months. But, I have contributed some type of work, I've probably put in 200 hours over one and a half years, and I've presented a few times on my research as well as writing a rough manuscript for publication. Basically, I've contributed to the lab and have done some work, it's not like I was slacking over the two years. So, when I emailed her asking for a letter of rec for medical school, she replied: "I don't feel I know you enough to write a letter of support." Now I know I should just walk away and say "thanks," but I do feel as if I put in work for her lab even though I wasn't consistently coming each week. If it wasn't for the fact that I've presented twice in her lab (made two different presentations on my research) and have written a manuscript on my research, I would understand her concern, but because of this I'm a little confused by her response. I'm just wondering what you'd recommend / would do in my situation.

Thanks.
 

Chicken Little

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I would ask if you could maybe set up a meeting for her to get to know you better. If she doesn't respond receptively to that I would move on.

She isn't saying she thinks you've done nothing. She's saying she doesn't know enough about you as a person to write a letter.

For future letters/everyone else who might request letters in the future, I think the best way to ask for a letter is to ask something along the lines of "could we set up a meeting time to discuss the possibility of an excellent letter of recommendation and for you to get to know me better?"
 
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Xyzcannon18

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I'd sit down and ask them if it was possible to discuss getting to know you, but it really sounds like you should get your rec letter elsewhere.
 
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DameJulie

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I've probably put in 200 hours over one and a half years, and I've presented a few times on my research as well as writing a rough manuscript for publication.
I think with your amazing productivity (200 hrs and a manuscript already), the experience pretty much speaks for itself without LOR
 

cj_cregg

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I wouldn't bother with trying to "get to know her" or talk her into giving you a letter.

I'm guessing she either (a) truly doesn't feel like she knows you well enough, which a 30 min meeting isn't going to change, so your letter still won't be that good, or (b) is just trying to politely say she can't write you a positive letter.

It's not that big of a deal not to have a letter from her. I'd find something else.
 
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grateful_phys

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Hey Guys,

Basically, I've been working for my research professor for about two years now, and yesterday I emailed her asking for a letter of rec for med school. I was a little hesitant because I haven't been the most consistent volunteer, especially last semester when I was studying for my mcat / taking classes and had to stop going for a few months. But, I have contributed some type of work, I've probably put in 200 hours over one and a half years, and I've presented a few times on my research as well as writing a rough manuscript for publication. Basically, I've contributed to the lab and have done some work, it's not like I was slacking over the two years. So, when I emailed her asking for a letter of rec for medical school, she replied: "I don't feel I know you enough to write a letter of support." Now I know I should just walk away and say "thanks," but I do feel as if I put in work for her lab even though I wasn't consistently coming each week. If it wasn't for the fact that I've presented twice in her lab (made two different presentations on my research) and have written a manuscript on my research, I would understand her concern, but because of this I'm a little confused by her response. I'm just wondering what you'd recommend / would do in my situation.

Thanks.
You can try meeting with her, but If she already thinks that than it is likely if you got her to write a letter it wouldn’t be that great any way unfortunately..
 

frog301

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Don't think it's a good idea to force it. I've TAed for a prof who had students ask her for LORS that she barely knew or some who listed her without bothering to ask at all. She told me she'd just send a bad letter to amcas
 

gonnif

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I would strongly advise against using any letter from this professor. While she may geniunely feel that simply doesnt know well enough, she may be harboring other motivates whether conscious or unconscious. Worse than no letter is a mediocre or negative letter. That is now a risk so move in
 
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Important point to make to younger premeds looking at this post:

Productivity, excellence, good work, etc DOES NOT ALWAYS EQUAL an excellent (or even good) letter of recommendation. Obviously most of the time, it does but this is an example of an exception. You have to really put effort into a relationship with your supervisor, advisor, mentor, etc for a good letter of recommendation.
 

doc05

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Hey Guys,

Basically, I've been working for my research professor for about two years now, and yesterday I emailed her asking for a letter of rec for med school. I was a little hesitant because I haven't been the most consistent volunteer, especially last semester when I was studying for my mcat / taking classes and had to stop going for a few months. But, I have contributed some type of work, I've probably put in 200 hours over one and a half years, and I've presented a few times on my research as well as writing a rough manuscript for publication. Basically, I've contributed to the lab and have done some work, it's not like I was slacking over the two years. So, when I emailed her asking for a letter of rec for medical school, she replied: "I don't feel I know you enough to write a letter of support." Now I know I should just walk away and say "thanks," but I do feel as if I put in work for her lab even though I wasn't consistently coming each week. If it wasn't for the fact that I've presented twice in her lab (made two different presentations on my research) and have written a manuscript on my research, I would understand her concern, but because of this I'm a little confused by her response. I'm just wondering what you'd recommend / would do in my situation.

Thanks.


You should thank her being honest. She's not gonna write a good letter, best not to pursue this.

P.S. Avoiding her lab for a full semester is on you. Can't say that I'm surprised you're not getting a letter.
 
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trobinsonmd

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Hey Guys,

Basically, I've been working for my research professor for about two years now, and yesterday I emailed her asking for a letter of rec for med school. I was a little hesitant because I haven't been the most consistent volunteer, especially last semester when I was studying for my mcat / taking classes and had to stop going for a few months. But, I have contributed some type of work, I've probably put in 200 hours over one and a half years, and I've presented a few times on my research as well as writing a rough manuscript for publication. Basically, I've contributed to the lab and have done some work, it's not like I was slacking over the two years. So, when I emailed her asking for a letter of rec for medical school, she replied: "I don't feel I know you enough to write a letter of support." Now I know I should just walk away and say "thanks," but I do feel as if I put in work for her lab even though I wasn't consistently coming each week. If it wasn't for the fact that I've presented twice in her lab (made two different presentations on my research) and have written a manuscript on my research, I would understand her concern, but because of this I'm a little confused by her response. I'm just wondering what you'd recommend / would do in my situation.

Thanks.

do NOT get a letter from this professor... people who write strong letters are generally enthusiastic about writing the letter and they are honored when you ask them... if you sit down over coffee for a half hour and try to let her get to know you, you are only going to waste more of her time and her 2 years worth of feelings is not going to change (not to be rude)... most med schools do not require a research letter, so from a cost benefit perspective, using her letter is a bad play. you have little to gain and a lot to lose.
 

candbgirl

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I think with your amazing productivity (200 hrs and a manuscript already), the experience pretty much speaks for itself without LOR


What’s amazing about 200 hours over 18 months? That’s about 11-12 hours a month.

OP be thankful she responded like she did. You don’t need a letter she’d write.
 

Robin-jay

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What’s amazing about 200 hours over 18 months? That’s about 11-12 hours a month.

OP be thankful she responded like she did. You don’t need a letter she’d write.

You'd be surprised at some students. One student asked for a LOR from our PI after not showing up for 1.5 YEARS. Yes, you heard that right. He probably had a solid 200-400 hours research, but then ditched lab for 1.5 years.
 
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What’s amazing about 200 hours over 18 months? That’s about 11-12 hours a month.

OP be thankful she responded like she did. You don’t need a letter she’d write.
I agree. There'd be something in that letter along the lines of, "He/she tries to keep his/her absenteeism to a minimum." How would that reflect well?
 

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You'd be surprised at some students. One student asked for a LOR from our PI after not showing up for 1.5 YEARS. Yes, you heard that right. He probably had a solid 200-400 hours research, but then ditched lab for 1.5 years.

Lol he messed up. From a risk-benefit standpoint, he should have requested a letter through Interpolio after completing his research and before his "leave of absence."
 
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