Monday, March 14, 2011

Academic letters of reference

At the Chronicle of Higher Ed, David Roediger writes of The Failed Promise of Electronic Applications

"It would have been easy enough, some years back, when I started to get requests to put recommendation letters on Interfolio, to connect the new practice with general trends to outsource university jobs, cut the positions of support workers, and privatize service work in public universities.

"Indeed, my own department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign quickly moved from maintaining its own dossier service for graduate students to partially subsidizing their applications for jobs made through Interfolio. Back then, when I thought about the switch in labor terms, I was able to quickly decide that the change was justifiable because it saved work, including, for staff members, the drudgery of photocopying.

"Mostly, though, I hoped the new electronic processes would save me labor. The department's old dossier service file was acceptable to most employers and used by all students. However, when writing recommendations on behalf of colleagues who had jobs but were seeking new ones, each letter had to be an individual production, as faculty candidates were outside the dossier system.

"Moreover, I hoped that the new systems would ease the burden of writing endless letters for undergraduates to get into doctoral programs and could centralize that process. Indeed, law schools were something of a model: Centralized recommendation-letter banks, organized either at the university level or by the Law School Admission Council, had greatly eased letting-writing, envelope-licking, and mailing. One student, one letter.
"Several years into the process, it is clear that, within the humanities, labor is not being saved—even on the supply side of sending out the recommendation letters electronically. Interfolio itself remains cumbersome and, contrary to the centralized law-school model, graduate schools have adopted countless variants for handling the letters. Some schools require hard copies, sometimes gathered by the student into a file, sometimes not. Where letters supporting job applications are concerned, two schools recently asked that I forward my recommendation letters through the student, forgetting confidentiality altogether.

"Odd little boxes asking that professors use a check mark to give a percentile ranking to students on everything from honesty to industry to leadership had been a feature of the older paper-application forms. Retaining those idiosyncratic grids—each school using them seems to survey a different set of virtues—sometimes now justifies departments' holding on to distinctive formats rather than adopting a standardized recommendation letter. Fellowship applications are almost militantly idiosyncratic in the forms that letters are required to take. No standard practices have emerged.

"Most important, school after school contracts for its own systems, meaning the letters are not just sent either through an agency or individually. Instead they fall into an endless number of electronic delivery systems, each slightly different, most new, and typically with giant bugs to be worked out. So frequently do those systems not work—or not work in concert with configurations of the sender's computer—that some searches are now accompanied by the e-mail contact of the person shepherding tutorials or end runs around the system.


maddy said...

Hi here some sample might be helpful for you..pls check Letters

Search Jobs Higher Education said...


There are many types of letters, but most fall into the major categories of business, personal, academic and reference. In letters of reference for jobs or academic endeavors, is critical that the person composing the letter identify his relationship to the person who has requested the letter. Thanks a lot...