I have just applied for a PhD at Cambridge University. Whilst doing my MSc I didn't particularly get on with my supervisor and although I worked as hard as I could he was never satisfied. I managed to graduate at the top of my class, but now find myself facing a dilemma. The uni have requested a reference from my supervisor, but he has made it clear to me that it will be less than glowing. What should I do?
Unlike in most careers, references are taken quite seriously in academia. Asking the head of department or the head of your MSc course would be a good idea. A reference from the academic who supervised your final year project in your first degree would also help to balance things out. Of course if this person is also likely to give you a bad reference, then it may just be that you're not cut out for lab work.
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