Reference available if you can find them...

Apr 24 2012 Published by under Mentoring

So I have the unique situation of having a former mentor that is to put it best MIA.  He was the mentor for my MS and is no longer in the scientific research game not because of retirement or death, but because he got squeezed out of the game.  And to make it worse, the dude fell off the grid, I mean his phone number has been changed, no longer answers emails, etc.  Also no one in my former department even knows where he is, for all I know he could be living in a van down by the river.  He was a good boss, but this is kind of a pain in the ass now when I need to include him as a reference in my CV, but he has no current academic affiliation or contact information.

Any suggestions?  I'm installing LoJack on my Ph.D. advisor to make sure this doesn't happen again.

9 responses so far

  • Sean says:

    Try finding a significant other (if there was one) or if he had kids see if you can reach out to them on facebook if not start walking along local rivers :)

  • physioprof says:

    You need to leave him off your reference list, and explain in your cover letters why. If you don't, people will try to contact him, and when he doesn't respond, they could easily conclude that it is because he thinks you suck and doesn't want to write a letter.

  • Yael says:

    If you already have a PhD advisor and a thesis committee, why do you need a letter from your MS advisor?

  • minion says:

    Alumni relations are the people to contact to track down old advisors/friends/lovers. They won't be able to release his contact details to you, but will be able to pass on your contact details & message so that your advisor can get in touch.

    In the meantime, do as physioprof says, and ask your other referees to explain the situation also.

  • ecologist says:

    I'm curious about why you say you "need" to include him as a reference. There is no rule that you must, and from my experience reading applications, no one would think twice if you did not. It would be very strange if your Ph.D. advisor was not among your references, but not so much for Master's degree.

    If you feel you must mention him, you could just say something like "Dr. X has left science and his present whereabouts are unknown."

    • I published a couple of papers with the guy and one manuscript that is MIA and I assumed that I should at least give thought to including him as a reference.

      • Yael says:

        Under the "experience" part of the cv where you list who you worked for, you could say that he is MIA in place of the line where you list institutional affiliation.

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