A student asked me to write a letter of recommendation for graduate school admission in London and the student insisted that I include a short biography describing my job title and qualifications. I find this information is a little out of place. First, my degree is in progress, so I do not have any impressive qualifications. Second, I think such letters are intended to introduce the applicant, not the writer.
- Is this common practice to include a biography of the writer in letters of recommendation?
- Where does this information typically appear in the document? In the opening paragraph? As a separate, attached document?
Yes, this is relatively common. (In my opinion, not common enough.)
Recommendation letters carry more weight if he reader knows the writer's qualifications. In particular, letters about qualification for graduate school carry more weight if the reader has some sense of the writer's track record for judging students' research ability. (This is why letters from senior faculty are more valued — not because of their vast research experience, but because they've presumably seen and evaluated more students.) The best way for the reader to understand your track record is to tell them.
But briefly, because as you suggest, the letter isn't about you.
I don't think there's a standard way to do this. Some people put their bio early in the letter, say in the second paragraph (because the first paragraph is the actual recommendation). I put mine in a footnote on the last page.