Not getting a lor from one of my research advisors?

benz42428
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Oct 09, 2010 3:28 am

Not getting a lor from one of my research advisors?

Postby benz42428 » Sat Oct 09, 2010 3:41 am

Hi, I am a senior applying to graduate schools, and I'm having a problem that has been concerning me. It is that I plan not to ask a letter of recommendation from my supervisor who I worked with during my freshmen summer research. The reason is that he was pretty abusive and forced me to work overtime. My mentor was also a jerk and abandoned me to work on my own even though I was just a freshman. In the end, I quit his research group without telling the supervisor and I heard he was pretty infuriated (partly my fault here). More importantly, I interacted with him like only 3 times during my time in his lab so I don't even think he knows me well enough to write good things. However, given that he is a very big name and everyone in his field knows him,a professor told me that this would give a potential red flag in my application, as the admission committee may wonder where the letter from this guy is and I'm afraid they may call me and ask questions, or worse, call him. I'm wondering if anyone could give me suggestions on what I should do in this situation. Should I erase the part about the research experience with him in my personal statement so that no one would know about him? Or should I just ignore it? For your information, I worked with him for only 10 weeks and now I have been working in another research group for almost 2 years now so my relationship with the new research advisor is good and she promised to write me a solid recommendation. Also, I have found other 2 recommenders besides her so I'm not in need of another recommendation. Thanks in advance for any of your suggestions or comments :)

geshi
Posts: 200
Joined: Tue Dec 01, 2009 12:01 am

Re: Not getting a lor from one of my research advisors?

Postby geshi » Sat Oct 09, 2010 10:06 am

Holy crap, don't ask for a rec from him. Sounds like an awful experience, and like you won't get a very good letter out of it. If he can't write you a good one (and if he's still pissed off at you, he probably won't), then definitely do not ask him. I would still leave it on my resume/CV if I were you. I had 2 different research advisers that I worked for but didn't ask for LORs. Even though they liked me and I got along with them, etc (I felt I would get stronger letters from other profs). I left both on my CV anyway.

As long as you have a LOR from your "main" research adviser (e.g. the person you spent the most time with or the person you did research with most recently), you should be fine.

ProfAstro
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Joined: Fri Oct 08, 2010 9:21 pm

Re: Not getting a lor from one of my research advisors?

Postby ProfAstro » Sat Oct 09, 2010 10:54 am

Geshi's advice is right on. Leave it on the CV, but absolutely don't ask for letter.

pqortic
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Joined: Fri Aug 29, 2008 9:24 am

Re: Not getting a lor from one of my research advisors?

Postby pqortic » Sat Oct 09, 2010 11:03 am

if he was a big name you should have put up with him during you research. professors are busy and they usually don't have time to teach a freshman research. as others said, explain your summer research experience and your position in the lab as working with a graduate student but don't mention his name because you were not directly in contact with him and admission committee also won't be looking for his letter.

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grae313
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Re: Not getting a lor from one of my research advisors?

Postby grae313 » Sat Oct 09, 2010 11:29 am

pqortic wrote:if he was a big name you should have put up with him during you research. professors are busy and they usually don't have time to teach a freshman research.


I strongly disagree. Yes, big name professors usually aren't around and don't really interact with the students much--especially new students. Yet somehow, people can still have good and productive times in these labs. That's because usually there will be a support structure in place, where older grad students or post docs are assigned to the new student. If he was abandoned by his mentor and forced to work overtime, he was in an environment that would not facilitate learning and good research. He was right to quit and find an environment where he could be more productive. That's what really matters, and he got two years of good research and a solid letter out of it. Being a well-known professor doesn't give you the right to run your lab like *** and treat your students like ***. Even if he had put up with it, what kind of a letter would he have gotten? Either a letter from a post-doc co-signed by this guy, or a vague and impersonal letter from the PI. Both are worth a lot less than a strong letter from a lesser-known PI who clearly knows the student well and worked with him.

Maybe it's more worthwhile to put up with adviser abuse as a grad student. If you suck it up and get through, after five or six years the PI would actually be able to write an informed letter about your work and graduate work with him would carry more meaning. But for undergrad research... no way. Learning and getting good research experience is more important, and the big name carries less weight for exactly the reasons I mentioned above.

geshi
Posts: 200
Joined: Tue Dec 01, 2009 12:01 am

Re: Not getting a lor from one of my research advisors?

Postby geshi » Sat Oct 09, 2010 1:41 pm

To piggy back on what Grae said, another good reason for an UG to not put up with this (especially as a 1st year) is in order to keep their own interest in physics. If you put up with this for 3-4 years as an UG, you'd probably be pretty sick of it and assume that all profs treat their students this way. You probably wouldn't end up going to grad school because you wouldn't think you really wanted to put up with this for another 5-8 years. In grad school, sure, maybe you can put up with it. By the time you go to grad school, you know it's what you want to do with your life, so it's easier to put up with it.




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