Getting a Recommendation


A scenario in which a Ph.D. candidate needs recommendation letters and is unable to obtain them.


You are a Ph.D. candidate and expect to graduate in a few months. In your job search, you receive offers from several companies. The CEO of one of those companies asks you to send three recommendations (one from your advisor, two from your committee members).

You ask your committee members to give you a recommendation. One committee member, Jones, turns you down. Jones says that s/he does not think that s/he knows you well enough to write a recommendation. The other committee member, Smith, tells you that s/he is too busy to find time to write a recommendation.

What do you do?


Caroline Whitbeck introduced methods and modules for discussing numerous issues in responsible conduct of research at a Sigma Xi Forum in 2000. Partial funding for the development of this material came from an NIH grant.

You can find the entire sequence on the OEC at Scenarios for Ethics Modules in the Responsible Conduct of Research. Some information in these historical modules may be out-of-date; for instance, there may be a new edition of the professional society's code that is referred to in an item. If you have suggestions for updates, please contact the OEC.

Albert R. Meyer. . Getting a Recommendation. Online Ethics Center. DOI: