Authors and students should cooperate in the letter of recommendation (comments)

As equity issues at the academy have come under scrutiny, many academics have identified letters of recommendation as a common site for the problem of increased inequality at the undergraduate, graduate and professional levels. Theoretically, letters of recommendation are meant to draw on the principles of more experienced professionals to make an applicant’s more formal documents relevant and to evaluate the applicant’s skills and potential.

But, in reality, letters of recommendation are one of the most frequently used processes in academic and professional application processes, making them essentially inhumane and objective to individual applicants. In the worst case scenario, they are the weapon against the candidates. Even well-to-do writers may write letters with inappropriate expressions such as language bias or personal information such as applicant’s race, gender identity, sexuality, childbearing status or disability.

Such problems are particularly acute because the applicant is weak: they do not have the ability to correct the errors of truth, implication or perception. In fact, applicants may not be aware that problems exist, as colleges and universities may claim that the letter writer’s responsibility is not the applicant’s but the organization’s own – even some applicants must sign their right to view the letter. .

In the absence of a major systematic change, authors who want equity are left to compose characters in this system even though they believe it is fundamentally flawed. We are proposing an intervention at this unique level based on our own practice: letter writers can counteract the expectations of the organization and cooperate with the applicants in the letter writing process to provide the applicant with a larger agency. Such collaboration can reduce inequality and inhumanity by altering the dynamics of power to better balance the applicant and the organization.

For us, collaboration occurs as a way for both the writer and the applicant to determine how and what to say about the applicant. Although the author ultimately controls the final content of a letter, the letter allows in the writing process to create a description of the applicant, including the applicant, that matches the overall construction of their professional identity through their content. Collaborative writing occurs in a spectrum of contributions, measured so that both participants are comfortable in the process. We do not recommend that applicants write a letter and that authors sign it. Instead, we suggest that authors and applicants work together to create content about the applicant while balancing the author’s objective understanding of the applicant’s skills and knowledge on the one hand and the applicant’s own deep understanding of their own experience on the other. .

Our process is flexible, including five steps that can be changed or repeated in individual situations.

  1. Request. The applicant asks the author for a letter and provides information about the scope of the application.
  2. Collect. The author requests the applicant for their CV and / or CV, draft letter of application and any other material relevant to the application along with basic documents. The author also asked for a short list of what might be emphasized in the applicant’s hopes.
  3. Draft. The authors drafted the argument using information from the collected materials and their own experience with the applicant.
  4. Collaborate. The author of the letter takes the draft to a collaborative location, such as Google Docs, and visits the applicant frequently to review the letter’s purpose, organization, evidence, language, and accuracy. When the applicant and the author disagree about the material or language, they both discuss until they are satisfied. If concerns about the content are not resolved, the applicant or author may choose not to proceed with the submission.
  5. Revaluation. The petitioner and the author edited the letter. The author, individually, makes all final decisions and provides a copy of the letter to both the applicant and any organization requiring direct submission.

We have all started with this basic process but over time we have adapted to our own comfort level and adapted to suit the individual needs of each applicant.

One of us, Rebecca Burnett, has been writing collaborative letters of recommendation for over two decades – primarily with colleagues, postdoctoral fellows, and undergraduate students. We participated in this process with the other three Rebekahs and were impressed with the benefits. So, when we got to the point where we were also responsible for writing the letter, we started using the same method with our own students.

The advantages are many, which solve a number of ethical problems that we mentioned earlier Four are particularly important.

  • Cooperation in the letter of recommendation can reduce the power gap between the applicant and the author. Jeffrey Follies, a lecturer at Georgia College and State University, further strengthens the collaborative effort in writing the letter of recommendation. “
  • Collaboration helps reduce the likelihood of releasing inappropriate personal information. Bianca Batti, an independent scholar from Los Angeles, supports the collaborative process because it reinforces the accuracy of the information contained and “helps me ensure that my students’ voices are heard and their living experiences are reflected in the materials we create together.”
  • Collaborative letters of recommendation expand the possibility of interacting with students. Jonathan Shelley, an assistant professor at St. John Fisher’s College, notes, “Collaborating with these students in these letters invites a conversation about the class and their goals at the college, so they can learn more about who they are.”
  • Collaboration enhances the accuracy of information and reduces the likelihood of errors in truth and language bias. Nick Storm, a lecturer at Georgia State University, said that one of the valuable results of collaborating on recommendation letters was “overcoming bias and participating in one’s own narrative.”

The collaboration we practice and practice is not perfect; It is fraught with problems, located in a larger context that most professionals recognize needs to change. Many people have called for the complete removal of letters of recommendation from academic applications.

In the absence of such large-scale change, we see this collaborative process as a step towards reforming a non-discriminatory and inhumane process that individuals can legislate. We request those who are running or participating in the job search committee to reconsider how these letters work in the institutional aspect of the process. Other changes বিশেষ specifically in job advertisements clarifying when and how letters will be requested, how the committee will use the letters, securing letters after the recruitment process, and openly discussing ways to read effectively in the context of recruitment সাহায্য can help process inequality at the local level. Get rid of

Too often, we hear educators abusing their power over their teachers. The system seems to be structured to allow bad actors to be categorized, and unfortunately, our letter writing process does not eliminate such behaviors if the writers are already prone to them. Our goal should be to increase our awareness by recognizing the potential for abuse of power and to reduce inequality and inhumane living in our networks of action, both on a personal and systematic level.

We argue that the practice of collaborative letter writing, which encourages applicants to exercise their own abilities and contribute to their own descriptions, is a step towards dismantling some of the toxic classifications inherent in the academic system. Although our collaborative process is not perfect, in our experience, it creates more ethical and equitable character than conventional practice. The humanitarian educational tradition should be built on the foundation of ethical and just system and our letter writing process contributes to that goal.

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