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fznsnp
12-05-2014, 04:03 PM
Hi,

I'm applying to top 15 PhD in Econ. Two of my recommenders have at 2 articles with more than 1,000 citations on Google Scholar. Is it typical for top-10 applicants ? Does it increase my likelihood to get into one of the programs I'm applying to ?

Considering that my profile is probably hard to evaluate as I come from Europe.

Thanks.

jonthawk
12-15-2014, 04:57 AM
From the NYU website:
"Do not be concerned about getting letters from "important" academics or researchers. We can tell a lot about your letter writers from the letters they have written before, and from the way they write. These things matter a lot more than whether your recommender has won the Nobel Prize in economics (often, the so-called "important" people don't have the time to write a serious letter)

My impression is that unless you've worked closely with these professors and they have done research in your field, their citation count isn't important. A good letter from a less-well-known professor is going to be better than some boilerplate from a famous one.

I've heard that personal relationships between recommenders and people on the adcoms can be super helpful though. And ceteris paribus having important recommenders can't hurt you!

Insti
12-15-2014, 09:23 AM
Also, you should know that all of the best students in the world will be applying to top15 schools. A lot of these students will have had the opportunity to work with or study under celebrity professors and a lot of them will have professors who are much more well known than yours. So don't think you are in an exceptionally good situation there.



Also, as jonthawk said, it is not so important who writes the letter as what is in the letter. Of course, it always helps to have professors who people know, but that comes second to the quality of the letter.

Econhead
12-15-2014, 07:46 PM
My impression is that unless you've worked closely with these professors and they have done research in your field, their citation count isn't important. A good letter from a less-well-known professor is going to be better than some boilerplate from a famous one.

I've heard that personal relationships between recommenders and people on the adcoms can be super helpful though. And ceteris paribus having important recommenders can't hurt you!

Certainly being interested in Econometrics, wanting to be an econometrician, and having a Letter from a very well known professor in Econometrics is helpful, but it certainly appears that how well respected someone is, in relation to adcoms' opinions of them (or know/respect them), is much more important. The fact that your letter writer is a brilliant macro theory economist won't take away from the fact that they are writing you a letter and that you want to do econometrics. It will only matter how they sell you.

That said, I don't agree with Insti exactly either. The impact of a letter is measured not only by what is being said, but also who says it. You're in Europe, so let's just suppose your writer is Tirole. Generally "important" people are so strapped for time that they only take on students that they really believe in. That said, if they are less 'careful' with their letters, a lukewarm letter from Tirole is likely to matter much less than a well written letter from a well-known (but not nobel winning, or nearly as published) professor that knows you extremely well. Note, simply having your writer extol you won't make all the difference, it's all the factors together.

The impact of letters and what makes an amazing letter is hard to identify and explain. So often we talk on this board about making sure that the professor knows you, but that's kind of nebulous. The professor needs to know you well enough to know your drive, to know that you are smart, creative, and can succeed beyond a shadow of a doubt. Most personal information is irrelevant, but may affect their desire to sell you.