Points of reference

December 11, 1998

The letter ("Make selection fairer", THES, 20 November) demanding that all applications for academic jobs be accompanied by full references at the time of applying is calling for a waste of time.

The reasons against are as follows: n The enormous amount of paperwork involved

* Most references are not worth the paper they are written on and several countries do not use them at all

* It involves referees in an absurd amount of unnecessary work

* Universities will receive fewer applications (clearly a strategy employed in some cases) because of applicants' reluctance to trouble referees for a long shot.

I am tired of writing references that have little function, and tired of reading the bland platitudes that pass for most references and do not wish further to bother my own already overworked referees.

Michael Wintle Head of European studies University of Hull

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