Requesting a reference letter from me

Every year and in every course I receive dozens of requests for reference letters from students.

To make things clearer and to save us all time, the following is my policy regarding reference letters:

  • I generally do not give personalized reference letters for large fundamental undergraduate courses (e.g., PSYC2020), because the course structure does not allow me sufficient individualized interaction with each student to truly talk the student. To be able to do so, we would need to have met and talked in-depth during the semester and/or started working on something together.
  • If you did a personalized project in one of my advanced classes (PSYC3052/2071), and you did well (A grade and above), then I'm happy to provide a recommendation.
  • If you did a thesis with me and did well (A- and above), indicating that we had no major issues, ofcourse I'm happy to support you.
  • If you're a coauthor on a joint manuscript resulting from your work in my courses, then I am happy to support you.
  • If you did a thesis with me submitted to PCIRR that received a Stage 1 in-principle acceptance, then ofcourse I'm happy to support you.
  • For all other cases - It's best that you try and find other professors to provide you with a reference letter.

(Template for students who did their thesis with me or who took my PSYC3052/PSYC2071 courses and conducted a replication and extension project, please see the template here)

General requests/terms

  1. Think carefully how many applications you want me to help you with, I have my limits. I have hundreds of students, if I complete reference letters for all of them to all places they're applying I won't be able to do anything else.
    1. For taught course student: I will support up to 2 applications.
    2. For guided thesis UG/MA students: Up to 5 applications.
    3. For students who published with me: Up to 5 applications.
    4. For guided mPhil students: Up to 12 applications.
    5. For PhD students/collaborators on the job market: Job market is brutal - as many as you need to get a position.
  2. I will only do things electronically.
    1. Please do not ask me to do reference letters that require mailing in post/printing/scanning, etc.
    2. Please do not ask me to meet me in person to sign anything.
    3. Both are a problem, please understand. I simply do not have the time to try and meet 18th century requests, and to schedule meetings on this do this for every student that goes through my courses. Requests like that from universities, jobs, and societies shows lack of respect for referees' time. If you really need my help in places that require those, ask wherever you're applying to that they make an exception in my case. Refer them to this page. If they cannot - then I am really sorry.

Detailed guidelines

In such a case please follow the instructions on this website)

  • Plan ahead. It is customary to give all materials to your Professors AT LEAST 3 WEEKS before the earliest deadlines for your letters. Aim for more than 3 weeks, if possible. (May take longer, if during Christmas/Summer breaks or if your professor is on leave/sabbatical).
  • Be organized. Provide ALL materials in a folder at ONE time, and check that everything is there. The best would be a link to a Dropbox with all the materials. (Writing “PS: my grades and resume will be in your box next week” - or forgetting to give us a form the school wants us to complete - gives us more loose materials to keep track of. Most of us do not start writing your letter until all the information is in anyway, so it’s best to wait till everything is gathered).
  • If you decide to send more applications out, just ask us and send all the materials we need again. If we still have your accompanying materials (ask us), you may only need to send your new addresses etc. + attachment. Even though the process may be faster as we will already have a letter on file for you, it is a good idea to still allow about 2 weeks.

More relevant guidelines (adopted from here):

  1. You must have fully completed at least one class with me. I will not write a letter for a current first-time student, as I will not have an adequate sense of your academic abilities until you complete the term. Indeed, it is ideal to have had two or more classes with me, as I will then be able to comment on your consistency across classes.
  2. You should have earned a grade of an A in my classes. A high grade in my class indicates that I think highly of your academic skills, which makes for a stronger letter on my part. If you have earned a grade less than an A, you should carefully consider your request - it is better to ask for a letter from another professor in whose class you especially excelled. If you still feel I'm your best bet, I'm willing to try and help, but please note that I'll be very clear about your performance in my class.
  3. I must have a sense of you as a person beyond the letter grade that appears in my records. Especially for large lecture-style courses, where it is difficult for professors to know their students well individually, reflect back upon your own behavior and ask yourself the following: Did you ask astute questions in class? Did you actively participate in discussions? Did you make use of office hours? Did you find other ways to leave a lasting, positive impression? To write a strong and effective letter, I need to be able to describe you qualitatively.
  4. I will only write recommendation letters when you have signed a waiver of your right to examine the letter. When I write letters of recommendation, I treat them as confidential documents whose destination is to a relevant third party (e.g., prospective employer, graduate school). By asking me for a letter, you are giving me permission to discuss your performance, both quantitatively and qualitatively, in my courses and to provide the third party with an honest accounting of your academic abilities and your promise for future success.
  5. I need at least two weeks to edit and submit a letter for you. Faculty schedules are busy, and I need as much lead time as possible. Two weeks is the minimum amount of lead time for me to consider writing for you. As the saying goes: “Failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part”.

If I do agree to write a recommendation, you have several responsibilities:

  1. Take the template file (see above), adjust that to your case, add as much as possible about your specific case, remove whatever isn’t relevant necessary, include as much as possible about what you’re doing or have done with me, and make that together with the other things in the page above available to me.
  2. Organize all the pertinent information together. Information that I need to know per letter includes: nature of your application (a description of the organization/program to which you’re applying), deadline for the letter to be postmarked/received, method by which I am to submit the letter (via email, in hard copy mailed directly to a program, in hard copy to you with a signature across the envelope seal), name and contact information of the third party (full names and affiliations of the person/group receiving the letter), if there is a word limit for the recommendation letter, and any additional forms that I am to complete on your behalf. If there are additional forms beyond the letter, you must first check that you have completed all the relevant student-related sections (e.g., your name, contact information, and waiver of right to letter) before handing the materials over to me. There is no need to furnish me with envelopes and stamps.
    1. Please also attach an up-to-date clear photo of yourself to help me remember who you are.
  3. If you are applying to more than one program at a time, it is helpful for you to give me a detailed, organized list of all the sites. If there are unique features about a site that you want me to attend to in my letter (e.g., a job is asking for applicants with a strong statistical background), tell me, as this will help me tailor each letter to your specific needs.
  4. Don’t ask for a recommendation letter unless you’re certain you’re going to follow through with the rest of your application. First, be sure that you’re eligible for the position by reading the fine print. If a summer clinical internship wants applicants who are fluent in Russian and you have never taken any Russian, then you are not eligible and should not be asking me to write a letter for you. Second, do as much homework as possible to make sure that you like the job/position enough to warrant an application. If the job involves you working solo in the wilderness for long periods of time and you hate nature and can’t stand being alone, then you probably should not be applying and should not be asking me to write a letter for you. Finding a job in the current economic climate is difficult, and it makes sense to cast a wide net. However, casting wide is different than casting frivolously and impulsively; be mindful that writing support letters takes considerable time and effort by faculty.
  5. So that I can write a full and effective letter, it is helpful for me to have additional information about you when possible and when relevant such as: an unofficial copy of your transcript, your résumé, a copy of the cover letter that will accompany your job application, copies of writing that you have submitted for publication, copies of scientific posters with which you’ve been involved, scores from recent entrance exams (GRE, MCAT), and copies of personal statements that you’re submitting with your application.
  6. If your application involves a funding request to an agency to support independent research (Fulbright Scholarship, Bates Summer Research Fellowship), you will want to spend ample time developing your proposal before asking for a faculty endorsement letter. Very ambitious applications like a Fulbright require months of careful and consultative planning. I cannot write a letter in support of your project unless there is a project to support.
  7. If you require me to fill a form, please enter all details that you know in advance, and leave only the essentials to me. I expect you to fill in all fields like: Referee name, address, phone number, etc. (see below), and any general details. Help me help you.


Relevant details if needed for applications:

  • Family Name - Feldman
  • Given Name - Gilad
  • Preferred Name - Fili
  • Contact Email - [email protected] (typically they expect institutional email addresses) and [email protected].
  • Telephone number - +85239174151
  • Correspondence Address: 622 Department of Psychology, Jockey Club Tower, Centennial campus, University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam rd. Hong Kong SAR
  • Institution/ Company name: University of Hong Kong
  • Position: Assistant Professor
  • Relationship to Applicant: Course instructor / thesis advisor
  • Submission Method (Online (Preferred)/ Hardcopy) : Online only
  • requesting_a_reference_letter_from_me.txt
  • Last modified: 2024/02/19 21:22
  • by filination