Philosophers Develop Free Recommendation Letters Service
Philosophers David Faraci (Georgetown) and Graham Leach-Krouse (Kansas State) have developed a new automated, secure, and free system for emailing confidential letters of recommendation. It’s called MARGY (Managing Academic Recommendations Gratis Yay).
Applicants on the academic job market spend thousands of dollars a year to have professional dossier services handle their confidential letters of recommendation. Some of this requires staff involvement: filling out forms, uploading to proprietary sites, etc. But a good deal of it is just sending emails. The only reason a middleperson is necessary is because the emails need to include a confidential attachment.
MARGY cuts out the proprietary sites and intermediaries:
Letter-writers upload letters to MARGY’s secure server; applicants tell the system where to email those letters. Confidentiality is maintained via a whitelist; the system will only send letters to email addresses that have been confirmed as being maintained by a relevant hiring entity.
MARGY is in the beta-testing phase. Faraci and Leach-Krouse are hoping others will help by playing around with the site and the email system, or checking the source code, or making suggestions for debugging and increasing usability. They are also looking for donations of server space. Faraci writes:
“The more people who help, the faster MARGY can be officially released, and the sooner people can start saving time and money.”
Great idea, guys.
Here are the relevant links:
- Source Code
- Bug Reports and Feature Requests
- Questions or Comments: [email protected]
Yes please yes please yesyesyes!Report
Great idea! Thanks!Report
This is an awesome service to the profession. I am wondering though, Is this service any different from what Vitae offers for free? I’ve found the main limitation with Vitae to be that it only works if the hiring institution accepts letters by email. (So it would also be nice if more institutions allowed letters by email versus requiring letters to be uploaded, which requires either more work for letter writers or more costs to the applicant through interfolio.)Report
I’m not very familiar with Vitae. Looking at their site, one difference is that letter-writers have to create an account (not that that’s a huge deal). I’m also not clear on whether jobs have to be listed with Vitae for you to apply to them through Vitae. If so, then that’s another hurdle for the school we don’t have. If not, does anything prevent applicants from having their letters delivered to a dummy account? In any case, it seems like very few people have been using Vitae; most are paying services like Interfolio to do this work. Even if our system just increases awareness that there are free options out there, I’m good with that!Report
Why isn’t the APA funding this? Why? Why? Why?Report
Have they discussed this with the APA and the organizers of philjobs? It would seem that the main hurdle is to make this known to as many departments as possible, and connecting it to phijobs and gaining the support of the APA would seem to be the route to go.Report
I’m putting together a post for the APA blog (which they’ve expressed interest in). And I’m certainly open to a higher degree of collaboration with them or the PhilJobs folks.Report