In this question, it seems that most people think it is acceptable for candidates to see their references. I find this very strange, as in the vast majority of case I have come across it is expected or required that all references are confidential.

What is the point of having a reference that the candidate is able to see?

The person reading such a reference has no way of telling whether any praise is genuine or simply included to please the candidate. Likewise, the chances of negative points being included are minimal, even if they are very important. Thus the reference becomes little more than a vague sign of support. I understand that in business that is generally sufficient, but in my experience academic references are relied on much more heavily to discriminate between candidates.

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