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Examples of good references

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Examples of good references

1. This is a very strong application. [Name of student] has an excellent record of demonstrated ability, and has obvious high-calibre potential for work in an important area. I am very familiar with the [Nationality] University system, and with [Name of University] high ranking within it. Outside [Area], [University Name] has one of the two best departments of history in [Area]. I am also familiar with [University Name], and indeed know the supervisor personally. I have full confidence in his reference. [Student’s name] has been an high achiever from early on. She was enrolled as an elite-scholar in an elite institution as an undergraduate. This scheme marked her out as a future researcher, and offered her wider opportunities to develop her research skills. She won academic prizes in every year of her undergraduate programme (5 in all). She has advanced language skills in English, and reading skills in Japanese, as well as French.

Her proposed research, on the study of the Japanese presence in the Chinese Maritime Customs, is an innovative and exciting. The service was an internationally-staffed, although predominantly British controlled bureaucracy under control of successive Chinese central governments from its founding, i.e. in 1854, until 1950 when the last foreign Inspector- General resigned. For leading US China historian John Fairbank the service was the ‘central core’ of the relationship between China and the world in this period. Exploring the Japanese presence enables [Student’s name] to make use of unique newly-available materials in China, which are being worked on by an [Name of University]-funded team based at [Name of University] and led by myself. The subject offers a new way to explore the high politics of imperialism in China, and the socio-cultural history of the Japanese in China. [Student’s name] has exactly the required research training and skills, language and capability and analytical power that underpins high – quality research. She is working in the broader area of the Japanese community in [area] for her [Name of University] dissertation, and this is excellent introduction to the subject of her PhD proposal.
[Student’s name] dissertation proposal for us was very professional; it was detailed and well thought out and presented. As we debated it with her she proved herself flexible, quick and independently thoughtful. I have also read her [Name of University] dissertation plan and proposal, and thought this excellent. She writes well in English, and has a confident grasp of the pertinent literatures.
In her correspondence with the department since this project was first proposed, [Student’s name] has demonstrated to our satisfaction that she has the independent critical skills, commitment, and talent to make a significant contribution through this research to the fields of modern Chinese and East Asian history, and the history of colonialism. She is a student of demonstrated achievement and high potential who is well matched with an excellent, innovative research proposal.
2. I first met [Name of Student] at the International Astronomy Conference in the summer of 2002 where he presented a paper on planetary physics (he has already published two research papers on planetary dynamics from his masters thesis). I was really impressed by his research papers and these, together with his presentation, clearly demonstrate to me his research potential.
[Name of student] was the upper first-class student both in his undergraduate (average 83%; first class) and postgraduate (average 82%; first class) studies at the Department of Astronomy, [Name of University]. It is worth stressing that [Name of University] has been ranked one of the top three universities in [Name of country] over the past decade. Moreover, during the last 46 years the Department of Astronomy at [Name of University] has always been ranked as the best Astronomy Department in the whole of the [Name of country] (which would make it on of the very best in the world). The applicant’s performance in that department is definitely comparable to the outstanding students in the very best of the UK universities.
At the present time, we in [Name of University] have three ongoing research grants supporting three Post doctoral Research Fellows working on the problems of planetary physics and astrophysics. [Name of Student] would fit naturally and perfectly into the existing research group in Applied Mathematics, which is a 5-rated unit. Note also that the Magnetohydrodynamics Research within Applied Mathematics, and to which [Name of Student] project would be aligned, is possibly the strongest in the world.
In addition to my first meeting with [Name of student] at the IAU conference, I have also made a special trip to [Name of Country] in 2003 to discuss with him about the various details of his proposed PhD thesis project at [Name of University]. I was most impressed by his enthusiasm for the proposed project and also his commitment to coming to [Name of University]. Over the past year and since he obtained his MSc in July 2003, I have been supervising him remotely while he is temporarily in [Name of Observatory] and waiting for a UK award.
I fully expect that he will continue at the high level achievements as he did in his undergraduate and his MSc studies. I have no doubt about his ability to undertake a postgraduate programme in UK. He is ready and is able to conduct first class independent research leading to a Ph.D thesis and to contribute to internationally leading research activity. He carries my strongest recommendation.
3. Although I have never met [Name of student], we have been communicating for 5 months. I feel able to comment on his written English and also on his scientific ability. His emails are very clear, as are his published paper, and so I anticipate no language problems during his PhD.
[Name of student] resume is excellent. He is just completing his BSc degree in Mechanical Engineering and is simultaneously employed as a research assistant at his University. During his undergraduate studies he has authored over 10 journal papers, 4 of which have already appeared and 4 of which have been accepted for publication. These papers are in the top international journals and hence this achievement is absolutely incredible. All of these papers are full length papers, involving simulation of acoustic radiation and show that [Name of student] has excellent analytical and computing skills. Although all of these papers have been co authored by [Name of student] supervisor, a quick database search shows that his supervisor has only published 5 other journal papers in the last 5 years. The implication is thus that much of this activity is due to [Name of student].
The proposed PhD project would build on [Name of student] work on acoustic wave propagation, and would investigate the design of shaped ultrasonic sensors for non-destructive evaluation. The work would be supervised by myself, who has experience in signal processing and shaped sensor design, and Dr Paul Wilcox (from the NDE centre in Mechanical Engineering) who has experience in ultrasonic transducers and wave propogation. Given [Name of student’s] exceptional ability, I expect that significant progress would be made.
I have had previous contact with staff and students at the [Name of University overseas]. The Head of Department is [Name of Head of Department], who I jointly supervised as a post-doctoral researcher for several years in the late 1990’s. [Name of Head of Department] is an outstanding researcher, making novel and significant contributions in model updating. Since he returned to Iran [Name of Head of Department] has made two 3 month visits to the UK as an EPSRC funded visiting fellow. A colleague at Liverpool currently has an Iranian mechanical engineering student from [Name of University overseas] undertaking a PhD, and this student is making excellent progress. Thus, I can vouch for the excellent educational foundation that [Name of University overseas] provides for its mechanical engineering students.
In summary, I rate [Name of Head of Department] potential as first rate, and I strongly recommend him for an ORS award.

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