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Undergraduates need them for graduate-school applications; PhD students and postdocs use them to apply for fellowships and jobs; senior scientists often have to have them to apply for awards and promotions. But writing an effective and personal recommendation letter can be time-consuming, especially for academics who must juggle grant applications, manuscripts, teaching and student supervision. And some might struggle to say the right things to support a former employee or student in their career move, while sounding original and unique.