About recommendation letter
A good recommendation letter is one of the most important supports a student can get when they apply for graduate school. However, it is unclear whether the student is ethical or not to write the initial draft of the letter by himself/herself. Now here is the answer from the one expert in American Physics Society:
Basically, it says it is ok the student write the first draft, and it is the teacher’s problem “ if your reference was unwilling to scrap a ghostwritten letter when necessary”.
In my opinion, this will cause unease to the students and teachers who insist to hold higher standards since the disadvantage of not doing so is obvious. Maybe, it will be fairer if there is a special remark in the beginning of the recommendation letter that states it is based on the draft written by the student himself/herself.
Recently, in Beijing University, one of the most prestigious Universities in China, there were some discussions about student cheating on term papers initiated by the criticism of a visiting professor from Yale:
During this time, professor Yi Rao, dean and vice president, also expressed his opinion about writing recommendation letter:
I am happy to know that he “agrees that there should be no reason for professors asking their students to write their own recommendation letters. They should write themselves, or at least ask their secretaries or assistants for help.”
However, although I am impressed by professor Yi Rao’s attitude, I am not sure how much influence his words will have. I don’t see there is any way to “force” professors to write the letter by themselves. Maybe, at best, it will end up with the same situation as that exemplified in APS news.
In fact, rl for all kinds of application, or even president’s speech, are probably ghostwritten.
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