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On 12/3/2020 at 12:26 PM, shikimate said:

They are being honest, which is a good thing. It's better they tell you in advance so you can find someone else rather than write you a non-descript generic letter which can do you harm when everyone else has stellar letters.

this is important - they are basically telling you their letter would not be helpful  and thus you need to select someone else that will be. They don't want to create a letter that honestly though lack of experience with you would harm your chances. 

Ideally that is exactly what you want someone to do if they feel that way. Far better than a suboptimal LOR. 

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I had a similar experience a few weeks ago with a preceptor who said that since we only worked together for two weeks, he’d still write a letter, but not to feel bad about not using it if I thought I could get a stronger one from someone else. I was confused because all of our fourth year electives are two weeks. But I took it to mean that it probably won’t be the strongest letter. 

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