Most students need an academic reference sooner or later. Perhaps you are applying for a job or a scholarship – or maybe you are trying to get into a graduate program? Maybe you’re applying for professional certification or registration as a licensed professional; whatever the reason, getting an academic reference can be notoriously frustrating, especially if you’ve been out of school for a while. Most professors dislike doing them, primarily because they’re time consuming and it can be quite frustrating trying to come up with sufficient information to do them well. As a result, it’s not uncommon for professors to procrastinate on these, or to avoid them completely. If you’re a student seeking an academic reference, my advice is to make it as easy as possible for the professor to do it quickly and effectively. To help you do this, here below are some tips for getting a high quality academic reference. Many of these tips also apply when requesting other types of references.
I’ve noticed recently that a lot of people make their way to this site while searching for advice on how to write to a potential PhD supervisor. I’ve also noticed that many of the letters/emails that I personally get on this topic are actually irrelevant to me, poorly written, or both. So, I figured it might be a good idea to put a little bit of advice out there to help students who are trying to get into a PhD (or Masters) program. All the same principles also apply for those seeking post-doc supervisors.
Although this article is primarily aimed at university students writing proposals for scholarship applications – many of these principles and techniques are applicable to other types of proposals, as well.
In the first post of this series I talked about the outline for the typical scholarship proposal:
Research Outcomes and Significance Paragraph(s)
We covered the first three topics in posts 1 to 3 of this series. If you missed any of them, then I suggest you go back and read those first. Just click on the relevant item in the list above to jump back to those posts.
The last item in the list is the topic of today’s post and, in some ways, it’s the hardest to write. In addition, as with the conclusions to a paper or report, it’s usually the part that receives the least attention despite its importance. It’s understandable – fatigue usually kicks in near the end of anything you write. That’s actually good news for you; if most people are doing it poorly, doing it well yourself will put you ahead of the competition. Read the rest of this entry »
Although this article is primarily aimed at graduate students writing proposals for scholarship applications – many of these principles and techniques are applicable to other types of proposals, as well.
We’ve now been through the Pitch Paragraph and Literature Review sections. The next component of your scholarship proposal is the Methodology section. It’s extremely important and, though it should be the easiest part to write, few people ever do it well. Here are some tips to give you the edge over the competition.
- Although this article is primarily aimed at university students writing proposals for scholarship applications – many of these principles and techniques are applicable to other types of proposals, as well.
- If you missed Part 1 – I suggest you go back and read that first.
In my last post we talked about the outline for the typical scholarship proposal:
- Pitch Paragraph
- Literature Review Paragraph
- Methodology Paragraph(s)
- Research Outcomes and Significance Paragraph(s)
Note – although this article is primarily aimed at university students writing proposals for scholarship applications – many of these principles and techniques are applicable to other types of proposals, as well.
If you’re a graduate student, or thinking of becoming one, then you’ve probably faced this challenge at least once. Common problems include not knowing where to start or what to write about, how much detail to include and how to fit everything in to the limited space allotted (which is typically only 1 to 2 pages). Like any other technical writing challenge, it pays to have a plan and it’s important to write in coherent units (known as ‘paragraphs’). Here’s some advice to help you tackle this important challenge effectively. Read the rest of this entry »
(Note – you might also want to check out my related post of tips for preparing your resume.)
I often get asked to provide advice and feedback for engineering students (BSc, MSc and PhD) applying for jobs and though the application contents can vary widely, especially between industry and academia, one thing that all employers have in common is the requirement for a cover letter. It’s probably the most important part of the application package, yet it seems to be the part most people do poorly. In this post, I’ll try to help you out by presenting some of the tips I generally suggest to my own students based on: a) what I’ve learned from others, b) what has worked for me when I’ve applied for jobs, and c) what I like to see when I am looking to hire someone. Read the rest of this entry »