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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

Report an

Find out if you need to do a DPIA here: