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Checklist for writing references

  • Ensure that the reference:

-Is true, accurate and fair

-Does not give a misleading overall impression

-Is not unduly selective

  • Assume any reference you write will be accessible by the subject
  • Where practicable show the reference you write to the subject before sending it
  • If possible, keep on file a standard reference that has been agreed with the subject
  • Mark the reference as CONFIDENTIAL as it may have sensitive information in it but note that this will not guarantee that it will not be disclosed
  • If possible check the reference with another colleague who has had dealings with the subject
  • Don't confuse fact with opinion. Make sure opinions are clearly stated as opinions
  • Consult HR for advice if you have reservations about the candidate's suitability for a post.
  • If you feel you need to disclose any sensitive personal data about the subject, get the consent of the subject first. Consult IMPS for advice if necessary
  • Do not use coded or ambiguous language
  • If you are asked for a reference for someone who has not, to your knowledge, cited your name as a referee, you should not supply one without contacting the subject first to find out whether they have given your name
  • Avoid giving references over the telephone.
  • If an urgent response is required, use a standard agreed reference and fax it through
  • Requests for references in respect of financial matters for staff should be forwarded to the HR Office
  • Requests for confirmation of student status should be forwarded to Student Services (for undergraduates) or the appropriate faculty office (for postgraduates)
  • Do not write a personal reference on university headed notepaper or send it from your university email address
  • File a copy of any reference you send
  • If you are challenged over a reference you have supplied, refer the matter to HR (for employees), Director of Student Services (for students) and the Insurance Officer 

Things to do now

Contact IMPS

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Find out if you need to do a DPIA

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