How important are references in getting a PhD?

posted
02-Jun-15, 17:30
Avatar for BiologicalNMR
posted about 5 years ago
Hey guys I have a high 2.1 with no master but I have been offered 2 PhDs so far. I love both projects but I haven't decided which one to go for. I have a summer studentship and 3 month research project under my belt but I'm not sure how I got offered two PhDs. My project supervisor is quite well regarded and he gave me a fantastic reference. I'm just wondering is this what got me in? My degree is quite average but he says I'm above average. Just how important are referees?
posted
03-Jun-15, 09:48
edited about 18 seconds later
Avatar for Edwardianguy
posted about 5 years ago
It is impossible to know without directly asking the admissions team! And then they'd just give a standard response...
A good reference probably helped. But you have to remember you wouldn't be the only one with a fantastic reference and from a well regarded referee. They would have taken all the information you provided into account, and the fact that you're already doing research would be a massive factor.
Does it affect your choice of project?!
posted
04-Jun-15, 18:31
Avatar for BiologicalNMR
posted about 5 years ago
Hey, thanks for the reply. I want to know because I am applying for another position that I really want. My referee was my research supervisor and he's an enzymologist and a highly regarded one.

I want to apply to another enzymologist but I suspect my 2.1 will hold me back. I'm just wondering is a reference good enough to get you through sometimes?
posted
07-Jun-15, 19:33
Avatar for Edwardianguy
posted about 5 years ago
I would say really go into detail on your application about your research experience - give concrete examples that demonstrate that you are an excellent candidate - this can make up for not having got a first.

Will you be asking someone else for a reference (other than your current supervisor)? Avoid asking him, as I've known people who have got a bad reference because of the conflict of interest (if it is the case that he wants you to be his student/stay at that institution). Hope this helps.

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