Requesting a Reference or Recommendation from Paul Wilson


I am often asked to write reference or recommendation letters, or otherwise act as a reference, for current and former students, whether for employment, fellowships/scholarships, or graduate school admission. Since it is in your best interest to receive the best possible recommendation or reference, I have prepared these guidelines to help optimize the process.

The first section helps you decide if I am the right person to provide this reference. If you have already decided this and/or I have already agreed, you can jump to the next section.

Choosing the Right Person

The very first question is whether or not I am the best person to write you the reference you want. If you think so, in your request for me to provide a recommendation, please write me a brief paragraph explaining why. Please include the following information, at a minimum:

  • how long I have known you

  • in what capacity/capacities I have known you

  • if I have been a course instructor
    • which courses and semesters
    • what was the topic of any projects you did in the class
  • if I know you through the UW-ANS
    • when and in what capacity were you involved in ANS

From this information, you should then be able to also give me a clear picture of why I am the best person to write a compelling letter in support of your application. Based on some of the information below, indicate which of your qualities I am best able to highlight to support your application.

The strongest recommendations are possible only for people I have interacted with closely in some capacity beyond simply being a course instructor.

Why are you the right person for this opportunity

For each opportunity in which you would like me to act as a reference, please provide information about why you are the right/best person to fill that opportunity. This would include:

  • description of opportunity, such as:
    • job description/position listing
    • graduate program description
    • scholarship/fellowship qualifications
  • resume or CV

  • other supporting parts of your applications, for example:
    • cover letter highlighting which of your accomplishments and experiences qualifies you for a job
    • personal statement and/or research plan for a grad school or fellowship applications