I am applying for postdoc positions in the area of Mechanical Engineering (Robotics) in US and Europe. Often times I see that the reference letters are required to be submitted at the time of application and it is mentioned that only complete applications will be evaluated. Does this mean that I am expected to collect electronic versions of reference letters from professors, which I would need to submit along with my application? How can I waive my right to not review these letters?
What is the typical way of submitting reference letters for a postdoc application in the area of Mechanical Engineering (Robotics), since the application process is not so structured?
Frequently "reference letter are required to be submitted at the time of application" simply means that "get your letter writers to send their reference letters to e-mail address [email protected] before the submission deadline" (or upload to an appropriate website if the process is more organized).
This is in contrast to the situation in many faculty hires where the reference letters are solicited: in those situations you provide only the names and contact information of your letter writers and the hiring committee, after sifting through the files to narrow down the choices somewhat, then writes to the candidates' recommenders and ask for letters to be sent
That said, if you are applying for a PostDoc you are supposed to be young and naive and not know any better, so there's absolutely no harm in writing to the department/head of lab/hiring committee asking for clarification when you are not sure what the expectation is.