References are very important in helping to evaluate an applicant, and you should therefore choose your referees with care. If you are applying for any kind of academic position - whether to a programme of study or to an academic job - then your references should be individuals in authoritative positions who can comment on your academic abilities and who have been in a position to assess your work in the past. They should be able to comment impartially on your work.

Your referees should definitely not be personal contacts; don't present a reference letter from a priest or a family doctor or friend. Especially when you are applying for a programme of study, what is looked for is not a personal character reference, but an assesment of your abilities and your aptitude for study. Ideally you would obtain a reference from a teacher or academic advisor. In some cases that might be problematic - for example, if you have been out of school for many years and have decided to return to study. In that case, you can ask for a letter of reference from an employer - but their letter should then speak to things like your analytical skills, or your writing or speaking ability - things like your punctuality or your ability to "work in a team" would not be particularly relevant.

If your referees are teachers, choose those who have taught you in anthropology; if you have not studied anthropology or cannot get a letter from an anthropology teacher, choose someone in the most closely related subject. If you are a foreign student whose native language is not English, do not choose language teachers to write your references, as indications of your language level are provided elsewhere in your application. If you have been enrolled in more than one institution in the last two years, it is a good idea to get a letter of reference from each of them. If you are applying for an academic job, don't present a letter of reference from a former student - you should always present letters from persons in positions senior to you.

Make sure that the person you choose will necessarily give a positive reference: give them plenty of advance notice, and take time to meet them in order to explain your motivation for postgraduate study and the reasons for your choice of programme, or if you are applying for employment, to explain the nature of the position you are applying for. Don't be shy about reminding them of your strengths and the relevant aspects of your experience that you would like them to highlight in the letter.