Requesting a reference letter
Reference letters are completed through the online application. Your referee will be notified by email to submit your reference letter.
Here are some tips for getting a good reference.
Who can be a reference?
One of the referees must be your supervisor or someone familiar with your current academic work. For UCalgary competitions, references for admission may be used toward the scholarship competition as long as they have been written within the last eleven months prior to the competition deadline. However, we encourage students to provide the most current reference possible, to reflect the progress of their research.
How to Request References
Plan ahead when you are asking for a reference. Building the appropriate relationships with referees is an important, long-term process.
1. Establish and Maintain Connections
Allow academics to get to know you. As an undergraduate student, this might mean introducing yourself to your instructor in a few courses, and even offering to do volunteer work associated with their research. As a graduate student, you have the opportunity to expand this connectivity to conferences and even e-mail acquaintances. Don’t hesitate to go down the hall and introduce yourself to faculty members beyond your supervisor and supervisory committee.
2. Invite the Letter-writer
Three to five weeks ahead of the deadline for receipt of a reference, ask potential writers if they can provide you with a positive letter of reference. Include Tips for Writing a Scholarship Reference and a note that gives the following:
- the purpose of the reference
- the rationale for pursuing this research and your expected goals
- identify and emphasize your key skills and talents that relate to this goal
- deadline for submission of the letter
- procedure for submission of the letter, including forms and web links
Include your updated curriculum vitae, transcripts and any parts of the application you have written (proposal, for example). You should fill out any parts of the form that relate to you (name, program or award you are applying for, etc.).
Don’t be shy. Ask for a personal meeting or phone call during which you can answer any questions the referee may have. Don’t be afraid to remind them of the impending deadline a week or more before the letter is to be submitted.
4. Thank the Referee
You should thank the referee for taking the time to submit a reference, whether or not you are successful.
*Much of the above information has been adapted from “Writing a Letter of Recommendation.” By Laura Bonetta, Ph.D. Addendum to “Making the Right Moves: A Practical Guide to Scientific Management for Postdocs and New Faculty”, copyright 2006 by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Burroughs Welcome Fund.
Get more tips by attending a scholarship workshop. These workshops are facilitated by an Associate Dean (Scholarship) and a student who has received a top award. You can find workshops for specific awards under Award Opportunities