Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain
the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in
Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles
Five years into my research career, I have a folder on my computer that will be familiar to many scientists: a place where I store 30 or so letters of recommendation I have written. These aren’t recommendation letters for others, but for myself — requested by academics and colleagues whom I have named as referees, but who have delegated the task to me. Apparently, this practice is normal and familiar to most researchers in science.