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Research statements for faculty job applications

The purpose of a research statement.

The main goal of a research statement is to walk the search committee through the evolution of your research, to highlight your research accomplishments, and to show where your research will be taking you next. To a certain extent, the next steps that you identify within your statement will also need to touch on how your research could benefit the institution to which you are applying. This might be in terms of grant money, faculty collaborations, involving students in your research, or developing new courses. Your CV will usually show a search committee where you have done your research, who your mentors have been, the titles of your various research projects, a list of your papers, and it may provide a very brief summary of what some of this research involves. However, there can be certain points of interest that a CV may not always address in enough detail.

  • What got you interested in this research?
  • What was the burning question that you set out to answer?
  • What challenges did you encounter along the way, and how did you overcome these challenges?
  • How can your research be applied?
  • Why is your research important within your field?
  • What direction will your research take you in next, and what new questions do you have?

While you may not have a good sense of where your research will ultimately lead you, you should have a sense of some of the possible destinations along the way. You want to be able to show a search committee that your research is moving forward and that you are moving forward along with it in terms of developing new skills and knowledge. Ultimately, your research statement should complement your cover letter, CV, and teaching philosophy to illustrate what makes you an ideal candidate for the job. The more clearly you can articulate the path your research has taken, and where it will take you in the future, the more convincing and interesting it will be to read.

Separate research statements are usually requested from researchers in engineering, social, physical, and life sciences, but can also be requested for researchers in the humanities. In many cases, however, the same information that is covered in the research statement is often integrated into the cover letter for many disciplines within the humanities and no separate research statement is requested within the job advertisement. Seek advice from current faculty and new hires about the conventions of your discipline if you are in doubt.

Timeline: Getting Started with your Research Statement

You can think of a research statement as having three distinct parts. The first part will focus on your past research, and can include the reasons you started your research, an explanation as to why the questions you originally asked are important in your field, and a summary some of the work you did to answer some of these early questions.

The middle part of the research statement focuses on your current research. How is this research different from previous work you have done, and what brought you to where you are today? You should still explain the questions you are trying to ask, and it is very important that you focus on some of the findings that you have (and cite some of the publications associated with these findings). In other words, do not talk about your research in abstract terms, make sure that you explain your actual results and findings (even if these may not be entirely complete when you are applying for faculty positions), and mention why these results are significant.

The final part of your research statement should build on the first two parts. Yes, you have asked good questions, and used good methods to find some answers, but how will you now use this foundation to take you into your future? Since you are hoping that your future will be at one of the institutions to which you are applying, you should provide some convincing reasons why your future research will be possible at each institution, and why it will be beneficial to that institution, or to the students at that institution.

While you are focusing on the past, present, and future or your research, and tailoring it to each institution, you should also think about the length of your statement and how detailed or specific you make the descriptions of your research. Think about who will be reading it. Will they all understand the jargon you are using? Are they experts in the subject, or experts in a range of related subjects? Can you go into very specific detail, or do you need to talk about your research in broader terms that make sense to people outside of your research field focusing on the common ground that might exist? Additionally, you should make sure that your future research plans differ from those of your PI or advisor, as you need to be seen as an independent researcher. Identify 4-5 specific aims that can be divided into short-term and long-term goals. You can give some idea of a 5-year research plan that includes the studies you want to perform, but also mention your long-term plans, so that the search committee knows that this is not a finite project.

Another important consideration when writing about your research is realizing that you do not perform research in a vacuum. When doing your research you may have worked within a team environment at some point, or sought out specific collaborations. You may have faced some serious challenges that required some creative problem-solving to overcome. While these aspects are not necessarily as important as your results and your papers or patents, they can help paint a picture of you as a well-rounded researcher who is likely to be successful in the future even if new problems arise, for example.

Follow these general steps to begin developing an effective research statement:

Step 1: Think about how and why you got started with your research. What motivated you to spend so much time on answering the questions you developed? If you can illustrate some of the enthusiasm you have for your subject, the search committee will likely assume that students and other faculty members will see this in you as well. People like to work with passionate and enthusiastic colleagues. Remember to focus on what you found, what questions you answered, and why your findings are significant. The research you completed in the past will have brought you to where you are today; also be sure to show how your research past and research present are connected. Explore some of the techniques and approaches you have successfully used in your research, and describe some of the challenges you overcame. What makes people interested in what you do, and how have you used your research as a tool for teaching or mentoring students? Integrating students into your research may be an important part of your future research at your target institutions. Conclude describing your current research by focusing on your findings, their importance, and what new questions they generate.

Step 2: Think about how you can tailor your research statement for each application. Familiarize yourself with the faculty at each institution, and explore the research that they have been performing. You should think about your future research in terms of the students at the institution. What opportunities can you imagine that would allow students to get involved in what you do to serve as a tool for teaching and training them, and to get them excited about your subject? Do not talk about your desire to work with graduate students if the institution only has undergraduates! You will also need to think about what equipment or resources that you might need to do your future research. Again, mention any resources that specific institutions have that you would be interested in utilizing (e.g., print materials, super electron microscopes, archived artwork). You can also mention what you hope to do with your current and future research in terms of publication (whether in journals or as a book), try to be as specific and honest as possible. Finally, be prepared to talk about how your future research can help bring in grants and other sources of funding, especially if you have a good track record of receiving awards and fellowships. Mention some grants that you know have been awarded to similar research, and state your intention to seek this type of funding.

Step 3: Ask faculty in your department if they are willing to share their own research statements with you. To a certain extent, there will be some subject-specific differences in what is expected from a research statement, and so it is always a good idea to see how others in your field have done it. You should try to draft your own research statement first before you review any statements shared with you. Your goal is to create a unique research statement that clearly highlights your abilities as a researcher.

Step 4: The research statement is typically a few (2-3) pages in length, depending on the number of images, illustrations, or graphs included.  Once you have completed the steps above, schedule an appointment with a career advisor to get feedback on your draft. You should also try to get faculty in your department to review your document if they are willing to do so.

Explore other application documents:

how to write a research proposal for faculty position application

Publication Academy

How to Write a Research Statement for Faculty Position Applications

Learning objectives.

Upon completion of this comprehensive and engaging course, you will be able to:

  • Review the 4 key goals of a Research Statement during the faculty position application process
  • Explain how to read and analyze a Research Statement prompt using real-world examples
  • Discuss how to properly format and style your Research Statement
  • Identify the 4 core components of an effective Research Statement
  • Describe step-by-step how to write each of the 4 core components (with exemplars)
  • List the 4 additional components sometimes found in Research Statement prompts and explain how to prepare them
  • Identify 10 key buzzwords to include in your Research Statement as well as 8 terms to avoid
  • Navigate the 5 most common mistakes made when writing a Research Statement

how to write a research proposal for faculty position application

Jay Phoenix Singh, PhD, PhD is a Fulbright Scholar and the internationally award-winning Executive Director of Publication Academy. Author of over 85 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters (average 400+ citations/year since 2010) as well as 4 books (published by Routledge, Wiley, Sage, and Oxford University Press), he completed his graduate doctoral studies in psychiatry at the University of Oxford and clinical psychology at Universität Konstanz. He was named the youngest tenured Full Professor in Norway in 2014 before accepting faculty appointments at the University of Cambridge as well as the University of Pennsylvania. Since this time, he has become the only psychology professor to have lectured for all eight Ivy League universities (Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Cornell, Brown, Dartmouth, UPenn) as well as both Oxford and Cambridge. Dr. Singh has provided keynote speeches at leading academic conferences on six continents, and his work has been featured in leading newspapers such as The Washington Post and magazines such as People. He has been the recipient of awards from organizations including the American Psychological Association, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the Society for Research in Child Development, the Society for Research in Adolescence, the American Board of Forensic Psychology, the American Psychology-Law Society, and the European Congress on Violence in Clinical Psychiatry.

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How to Construct a Compelling Research Statement

how to write a research proposal for faculty position application

A research statement is a critical document for prospective faculty applicants. This document allows applicants to convey to their future colleagues the importance and impact of their past and, most importantly, future research. You as an applicant should use this document to lay out your planned research for the next few years, making sure to outline how your planned research contributes to your field.

Some general guidelines

(from Carleton University )

An effective research statement accomplishes three key goals:

  • It clearly presents your scholarship in nonspecialist terms;
  • It places your research in a broader context, scientifically and societally; and
  • It lays out a clear road map for future accomplishments in the new setting (the institution to which you’re applying).

Another way to think about the success of your research statement is to consider whether, after reading it, a reader is able to answer these questions:

  • What do you do (what are your major accomplishments; what techniques do you use; how have you added to your field)?
  • Why is your work important (why should both other scientists and nonscientists care)?
  • Where is it going in the future (what are the next steps; how will you carry them out in your new job; does your research plan meet the requirements for tenure at this institution)?

1. Make your statement reader-friendly

A typical faculty application call can easily receive 200+ applicants. As such, you need to make all your application documents reader-friendly. Use headings and subheadings to organize your ideas and leave white space between sections.

In addition, you may want to include figures and diagrams in your research statement that capture key findings or concepts so a reader can quickly determine what you are studying and why it is important. A wall of text in your research statement should be avoided at all costs. Rather, a research statement that is concise and thoughtfully laid out demonstrates to hiring committees that you can organize ideas in a coherent and easy-to-understand manner.

Also, this presentation demonstrates your ability to develop competitive funding applications (see more in next section), which is critical for success in a research-intensive faculty position.

2. Be sure to touch on the fundability of your planned research work

Another goal of your research statement is to make the case for why your planned research is fundable. You may get different opinions here, but I would recommend citing open or planned funding opportunities at federal agencies or other funders that you plan to submit to. You might also use open funding calls as a way to demonstrate that your planned research is in an area receiving funding prioritization by various agencies.

If you are looking for funding, check out this list of funding resources on my personal website. Another great way to look for funding is to use NIH Reporter and NSF award search .

3. Draft the statement and get feedback early and often

I can tell you from personal experience that it takes time to refine a strong research statement. I went on the faculty job market two years in a row and found my second year materials to be much stronger. You need time to read, review and reflect on your statements and documents to really make them stand out.

It is important to have your supervisor and other faculty read and give feedback on your critical application documents and especially your research statement. Also, finding peers to provide feedback and in return giving them feedback on their documents is very helpful. Seek out communities of support such as Future PI Slack to find peer reviewers (and get a lot of great application advice) if needed.

4. Share with nonexperts to assess your writing’s clarity

Additionally, you may want to consider sharing your job materials, including your research statement, with non-experts to assess clarity. For example, NC State’s Professional Development Team offers an Academic Packways: Gearing Up for Faculty program each year where you can get feedback on your application documents from individuals working in a variety of areas. You can also ask classmates and colleagues working in different areas to review your research statement. The more feedback you can receive on your materials through formal or informal means, the better.

5. Tailor your statement to the institution

It is critical in your research statement to mention how you will make use of core facilities or resources at the institution you are applying to. If you need particular research infrastructure to do your work and the institution has it, you should mention that in your statement. Something to the effect of: “The presence of the XXX core facility at YYY University will greatly facilitate my lab’s ability to investigate this important process.”

Mentioning core facilities and resources at the target institution shows you have done your research, which is critical in demonstrating your interest in that institution.

Finally, think about the resources available at the institution you are applying to. If you are applying to a primarily undergraduate-serving institution, you will want to be sure you propose a research program that could reasonably take place with undergraduate students, working mostly in the summer and utilizing core facilities that may be limited or require external collaborations.

Undergraduate-serving institutions will value research projects that meaningfully involve students. Proposing overly ambitious research at a primarily undergraduate institution is a recipe for rejection as the institution will read your application as out of touch … that either you didn’t do the work to research them or that you are applying to them as a “backup” to research-intensive positions.

You should carefully think about how to restructure your research statements if you are applying to both primarily undergraduate-serving and research-intensive institutions. For examples of how I framed my research statement for faculty applications at each type of institution, see my personal website ( undergraduate-serving ; research-intensive research statements).

6. Be yourself, not who you think the search committee wants

In the end, a research statement allows you to think critically about where you see your research going in the future. What are you excited about studying based on your previous work? How will you go about answering the unanswered questions in your field? What agencies and initiatives are funding your type of research? If you develop your research statement from these core questions, your passion and commitment to the work will surely shine through.

A closing thought: Be yourself, not who you think the search committee wants. If you try to frame yourself as someone you really aren’t, you are setting the hiring institution and you up for disappointment. You want a university to hire you because they like you, the work you have done, and the work you want to do, not some filtered or idealized version of you.

So, put your true self out there, and realize you want to find the right institutional fit for you and your research. This all takes time and effort. The earlier you start and the more reflection and feedback you get on your research statement and remaining application documents, the better you can present the true you to potential employers.

More Advice on Faculty Job Application Documents on ImPACKful

How to write a better academic cover letter

Tips on writing an effective teaching statement

More Resources

See here for samples of a variety of application materials from UCSF.

  • Rules of the (Social Sciences & Humanities) Research Statement
  • CMU’s Writing a Research Statement
  • UW’s Academic Careers: Research Statements
  • Developing a Winning Research Statement (UCSF)
  • Academic Packways
  • ImPACKful Tips

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Faculty Application: Research Statement

Criteria for success.

  • Clearly articulate your brand.
  • Demonstrate the impact of your past work.
  • Show that you are credible to carry out your proposed future research.
  • Articulate the importance of your research vision.
  • Match the standards within the department to which you are applying.
  • Show that you are a good fit for the position.
  • Polish. Avoid typos.

Structure Diagram

The typical structure and length of research statements vary widely across fields. If you are unsure of what is typical in the field where you are applying, be sure to check with someone who is familiar with the standards. 

In electrical engineering and computer science, research statements are usually around three pages long with a focus on past and current work, often following the structure in the diagram below.

how to write a research proposal for faculty position application

Identify Your Purpose

Your cover letter and CV outline your past work and hint at a general direction of your future work but do not go into detail. Therefore, the purpose of a research statement is to emphasize the importance of your past work and describe your research vision. Both your past/current work and future work presented in the research statement should reflect your branding statement .  

In EECS, faculty research statements focus on past/current work. However, it is important to also include your vision for the future, which should build on your previous work. This statement should convince the committee that your future work is important, relevant, and feasible. The future work section should go beyond direct extensions of your doctoral or postdoctoral work; it should cover a 5-10 year span. Proposed future work should show scientific growth and convince the committee that you propose strong research directions for your future group. Your research statement can also include possible funding sources and collaborations.

Analyze Your Audience

Your audience is a faculty search committee, which is made up of professors from across the department, not just the ones in your research area. A typical search committee member is probably very busy reviewing lots of applications, and hence may not read your statement in depth until you make it to later rounds of the hiring process.

Knowing details of the job posting and what the faculty search committee is looking for will help you tailor your statement. If the call is for a specific research area (e.g., language processing, bioinformatics, algorithms, machine learning, systems), it is beneficial to motivate and emphasize the importance of your work in the language of that area whenever possible.

Structure your statement

Although there is usually no mandated structure for a research statement, it can be very helpful to a reader if the content flows naturally.

Use the hourglass concept. It makes a compelling introduction if a research statement presents motivation starting from the high-level picture and then zooms in to the main topic(s) of research. This is helpful for two reasons. First, a research statement is typically read by committee members from several research areas, so starting with a high-level picture gives members a gentle guidance to the meat of a work. Second, providing general motivation helps in showing how different pieces of research fit in a big puzzle.

After talking about specific results, the story typically zooms back out by discussing impact and future directions. It is best if future work has some concrete research directions and also widens up to touch on a broader perspective of research plans.

The diagram below summarizes the hourglass concept and provides one potential flow of content.

how to write a research proposal for faculty position application

Use good formatting to help retain focus . A successful research statement is typically organized into three main parts: Introduction and motivation; past work/achievements; and vision/future work. Each of these parts can be divided into subsections.

In addition, you can help a reader focus their attention on the important content by:

  • making each section/paragraph title tell a message;
  • using bullet points and itemization while listing;
  • using bold or italics to emphasize important keywords or sentences. 

Some institutions set constraints on the format of research statements, primarily constraints on length . Make sure that your research statement is tailored to the guidelines. It is helpful to prepare two versions of your statement — a long one and a short one. The short version is usually the long one stripped of many details with the emphasis on high-level pictures and ideas.

Say who you are

Your research statement tells a story about you. Think who you want to be in the eyes of committee members (e.g., a programming languages person, a machine learning expert, a theory professor) and which of your achievements you want them to remember.

Make your research statement echo your branding one . A successful research statement builds a story around the author’s branding statement. A strong point is made if past and future work are echoes of the same brand. 

Successful candidates outline their research agenda before stating actual results and after providing a background. Sometimes this is done even before giving background and motivation. In the latter case, the research agenda is typically stated briefly, and then reiterated with more context after providing the background.

Show credibility for your future work by your past work

Your past work is an excellent way to illustrate that you are fit for the future work you are proposing. Refer to some of your past work when outlining feasibility of your proposed future directions. Even if you aim to change your field of research, your past experience should still serve as a justification for why you are well suited for the new line of work.

Dedicate space to your strongest results . Describe your strongest results in the most detail. If you want to mention many papers, organize them into several themes. A successful statement communicates how obtained results affect a field or a research community. Impact of papers can be shown by awards, high number of citations, or follow up papers by other research groups. A reader will have limited time to go over your statement, so make sure that the reader’s attention is spent on your most impactful work. Note that your strongest results do not necessarily have to be your most recent ones; they can even be several years old. Nevertheless, it is still a good idea to also mention some of your recent work as it shows that you have been active lately as well.

Importantly, a research statement should be a coherent story about ideas and impact, not only an overview of published articles. Hence, it is often the case that a research statement does not discuss all papers published or all work done by the applicant.

Use figures to support important claims . Consider including figures . They can be used to support your claims about your results and/or in the future work section to illustrate your research plans. A well-made figure can help the reader quickly understand your work, but figures also take up a large amount of space. Use figures carefully, only to draw attention to the most important points.

Devote time!

Getting out a job application package takes an indefinitely long time (writing, addressing feedback, polishing, addressing feedback … aaaand polishing)! Start early and invest time.

Get feedback . Your application package will be read by committee members that are not necessarily in your research area. It is thus important to get feedback about your research statement from colleagues with different backgrounds and seniority. Note that it might take time for other people to share their feedback (remember, others are busy as well!), so plan ahead.

MIT EECS affiliates can also make an appointment with a Communication Fellow to obtain additional feedback on their statements.

Resources and Annotated Examples

Amy zhang research statement.

Submitted in 2018-2019 by Amy Zhang, now faculty at University of Washington 1 MB

Elena Glassman Research Statement

Submitted in 2017-2018 by Elena Glassman, now faculty at Harvard University 2 MB

Enago Academy

5 Simple Tips for Writing a Good Research Statement for a Faculty Position

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Completed your Ph.D.? What next?

Traditionally, most sought-after jobs after completing Ph.D. are university professors and industry R&D labs professionals. While industrial jobs have seen a surge in applicants to various positions, academia has prominently been the most considered field by Ph.Ds. As a part of the job application for faculty positions in academia, applicants are required to present a research statement that outlines the research they have already completed.

Table of Contents

What is a Research Statement?

A research statement is a document that summarizes your research interests, accomplishments, current research, and future research conduction plans. Furthermore, it outlines how your work contributes to the field. It allows applicants to present the importance and impact of their past, current, and future research to their potential future colleagues. However, throughout your academic career, you may be asked to prepare similar documents for annual reviews, tenure packages, or promotion.

What is the Purpose of a Research Statement?

The purpose of a research statement isn’t just about exhibiting your research interests, achievement, or other academic feats. In fact, its purpose is to make a persuasive case about the importance of your completed work and the potential impact of your future trajectory in research. In other words, researchers must coherently write about their past and current research efforts and articulately present their future research plans.

Furthermore, a research statement’s purpose is to allow the search committee to envision the applicant’s research evolution, productivity, and potential contributions over the coming years. Your research statement must promisingly convey the benefits you bring to the position. In other words, these benefits could be in terms of grant money, faculty collaborations, student involvement in research, or development of new courses.

Three key purposes of a research statement are:

  • Clear presentation of your academic feats.
  • Description of your research in a broader context, both scientifically and societally.
  • Laying out a clear road map for future endeavors concerning the newly applied position.

How is a Research Statement Different from a CV?

While your CV gives an overview of your past research projects, it does not address the details of conducted research or future research interests. Furthermore, a CV fails to answer some questions that can be easily answered through a research statement.

  • Why are you interested in a particular research topic?
  • Why is your research important?
  • What techniques do you use?
  • How have you contributed to your field?
  • How can your research be applied commercially or academically?
  • Does your research have an impact on allied fields?
  • Is your research directing you to newer questions?
  • How do you plan to develop new skills and knowledge?

What Should You Include in a Research Statement for Faculty Position?

With over hundreds of applications being received at various departments, your research statement must stand out from the crowd and address all points concerning the target position. Expectations for research statements may vary across disciplines. However, certain key elements must be included in a research statement, irrespective of the field.

  • Academic specialty and interests.
  • Dedication for research.
  • Compatibility with departmental or university research efforts.
  • Ideas about potential funding sources, collaborative partners, etc.
  • Ability to work as a professional scholar.
  • Capability to work as an independent researcher.
  • Writing proficiency.
  • Relevance of your research and its contribution to the field.
  • Significant recognition received by your research such as publications, presentations, grants, awards, etc.
  • Appropriate acknowledgment of other scholars’ work in your field by giving them credits where due.
  • Degree of specificity for future research.
  • Long-term and short-term research goals

How to Write a Research statement for Faculty Position?

An effective research statement must present a clear narrative of the relation between your past and current research. Additionally, it should clearly state how your research aligns with the goals, resources, and needs of the institution to which you are applying.

Here we discuss 5 simple tips for writing a good research statement:

Research Statement

As stated earlier, a faculty position may easily receive over a couple of hundred applications. Consequently, the search committee may just glance through some applications. Therefore, you must make your research statement reader-friendly.

Following tips will allow readers to quickly determine why should they select you over other applicants:

  • Organize your ideas by using headings and sub-headings.
  • Space out different sections properly.
  • Additionally, include figures and diagrams to illustrate key findings or concepts.
  • Avoid writing long paragraphs in your research statement. Moreover, a concise yet thoughtfully laid out research statement demonstrates your ability to organize ideas in a coherent and easy-to-understand manner.

2. Ensure to Present Your Focus on Research

  • Discuss feasible research ideas that interest you.
  • Explain how your goals are related to your recent work.
  • Additionally, mention your short-term (2-5 years) and long-term (5+ years) research goals.
  • Discuss your ideas about potential funding sources, collaborative partners, facilities, etc.
  • Specifically mention how your research goals align with your department’s goals.

3. Tailor Your Research Statement

  • It is imperative to mention how you will contribute to the research at the institution you are applying to.
  • Mention how will you use core facilities or resources at the institution.
  • Furthermore, you should mention particular research infrastructure present at the target institution that you may need to do your work.

4. Write for Each Audience

  • Even at top-most institutions, not all members of the search committee may be aware of the intricacies of your research work. Therefore, you should avoid jargon and describe your research work in a detailed yet lucid manner.
  • Your motive must be to instill a sense of belief in the reader that you are a dedicated researcher and not overwhelm them with finer details.
  • Moreover, focus on conveying the importance of your work and its contribution to the field.

5. Be Yourself

In an attempt to impress the search committee, applicants are often seen to go overboard and come out as boastful.

  • Emphasize your major academic achievements.
  • Be realistic and do not present research goals that are too ambitious.
  • Finally, avoid comparing your research statement with other applicants.

Did you decide on the faculty position you want to apply for? How do you plan to go ahead with your research statement? Follow these tips while writing your research statement to acquire your most desired faculty position .

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Application Materials for a Faculty Job Search

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The following materials are commonly requested.  We encourage you to schedule an appointment with a career advisor to review your documents and discuss your plan. Get additional feedback on your materials from your faculty advisor and other mentors.

1) CV (curriculum vitae)  :  comprehensive scholarly record, including your research experience, teaching and mentoring experience, publication record, and more.  See more details on preparing a CV .

2) Cover letter :  1-2 page letter, addressed to search committee.  Include a brief summary of your academic background, highlights of past and future research, summary of teaching experiences and interests, and your fit with the department and school (why are you interested in that position?  How does your experience match the position ad?)

3) Research Statement:   A summary of your past research accomplishments, and a proposal for your future research plan as a faculty member. Include both your long-term vision, as well as concrete projects for your research group for the first 3-5 years. Length varies, but typically 3-6 pages.  See more advice on writing research statements .

4) Teaching Statement : A statement of your approaches and philosophy regarding teaching and learning. Include specific examples to illustrate your approaches from your past teaching experience, or propose specific ideas for how you would teach future courses. Include a statement of the broad courses you are qualified to teach, as well as any courses you would like to develop. Usually 1-2 pages.  See more advice on writing teaching statements .

5) Diversity Statement : A discussion of your past, present and future contributions to promoting equity, inclusion and diversity in your professional career. Typically 1-2 pages. See sample guidelines for writing a diversity statement .

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Writing the Research Plan for Your Academic Job Application

By Jason G. Gillmore, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry, Hope College, Holland, MI

A research plan is more than a to-do list for this week in lab, or a manila folder full of ideas for maybe someday—at least if you are thinking of a tenure-track academic career in chemistry at virtually any bachelor’s or higher degree–granting institution in the country. A perusal of the academic job ads in C&EN every August–October will quickly reveal that most schools expect a cover letter (whether they say so or not), a CV, a teaching statement, and a research plan, along with reference letters and transcripts. So what is this document supposed to be, and why worry about it now when those job ads are still months away?

What Is a Research Plan?

A research plan is a thoughtful, compelling, well-written document that outlines your exciting, unique research ideas that you and your students will pursue over the next half decade or so to advance knowledge in your discipline and earn you grants, papers, speaking invitations, tenure, promotion, and a national reputation. It must be a document that people at the department you hope to join will (a) read, and (b) be suitably excited about to invite you for an interview.

That much I knew when I was asked to write this article. More specifics I only really knew for my own institution, Hope College (a research intensive undergraduate liberal arts college with no graduate program), and even there you might get a dozen nuanced opinions among my dozen colleagues. So I polled a broad cross-section of my network, spanning chemical subdisciplines at institutions ranging from small, teaching-centered liberal arts colleges to our nation’s elite research programs, such as Scripps and MIT. The responses certainly varied, but they did center on a few main themes, or illustrate a trend across institution types. In this article I’ll share those commonalities, while also encouraging you to be unafraid to contact a search committee chair with a few specific questions, especially for the institutions you are particularly excited about and feel might be the best fit for you.

How Many Projects Should You Have?

how to write a research proposal for faculty position application

While more senior advisors and members of search committees may have gotten their jobs with a single research project, conventional wisdom these days is that you need two to three distinct but related projects. How closely related to one another they should be is a matter of debate, but almost everyone I asked felt that there should be some unifying technique, problem or theme to them. However, the projects should be sufficiently disparate that a failure of one key idea, strategy, or technique will not hamstring your other projects.

For this reason, many applicants wisely choose to identify:

  • One project that is a safe bet—doable, fundable, publishable, good but not earthshaking science.
  • A second project that is pie-in-the-sky with high risks and rewards.
  • A third project that fits somewhere in the middle.

Having more than three projects is probably unrealistic. But even the safest project must be worth doing, and even the riskiest must appear to have a reasonable chance of working.

How Closely Connected Should Your Research Be with Your Past?

Your proposed research must do more than extend what you have already done. In most subdisciplines, you must be sufficiently removed from your postdoctoral or graduate work that you will not be lambasted for clinging to an advisor’s apron strings. After all, if it is such a good idea in their immediate area of interest, why aren’t they pursuing it?!?

But you also must be able to make the case for why your training makes this a good problem for you to study—how you bring a unique skill set as well as unique ideas to this research. The five years you will have to do, fund, and publish the research before crafting your tenure package will go by too fast for you to break into something entirely outside your realm of expertise.

Biochemistry is a partial exception to this advice—in this subdiscipline it is quite common to bring a project with you from a postdoc (or more rarely your Ph.D.) to start your independent career. However, you should still articulate your original contribution to, and unique angle on the work. It is also wise to be sure your advisor tells that same story in his or her letter and articulates support of your pursuing this research in your career as a genuinely independent scientist (and not merely someone who could be perceived as his or her latest "flunky" of a collaborator.)

Should You Discuss Potential Collaborators?

Regarding collaboration, tread lightly as a young scientist seeking or starting an independent career. Being someone with whom others can collaborate in the future is great. Relying on collaborators for the success of your projects is unwise. Be cautious about proposing to continue collaborations you already have (especially with past advisors) and about starting new ones where you might not be perceived as the lead PI. Also beware of presuming you can help advance the research of someone already in a department. Are they still there? Are they still doing that research? Do they actually want that help—or will they feel like you are criticizing or condescending to them, trying to scoop them, or seeking to ride their coattails? Some places will view collaboration very favorably, but the safest route is to cautiously float such ideas during interviews while presenting research plans that are exciting and achievable on your own.

How Do You Show Your Fit?

Some faculty advise tailoring every application packet document to every institution to which you apply, while others suggest tweaking only the cover letter. Certainly the cover letter is the document most suited to introducing yourself and making the case for how you are the perfect fit for the advertised position at that institution. So save your greatest degree of tailoring for your cover letter. It is nice if you can tweak a few sentences of other documents to highlight your fit to a specific school, so long as it is not contrived.

Now, if you are applying to widely different types of institutions, a few different sets of documents will certainly be necessary. The research plan that you target in the middle to get you a job at both Harvard University and Hope College will not get you an interview at either! There are different realities of resources, scope, scale, and timeline. Not that my colleagues and I at Hope cannot tackle research that is just as exciting as Harvard’s. However, we need to have enough of a niche or a unique angle both to endure the longer timeframe necessitated by smaller groups of undergraduate researchers and to ensure that we still stand out. Furthermore, we generally need to be able to do it with more limited resources. If you do not demonstrate that understanding, you will be dismissed out of hand. But at many large Ph.D. programs, any consideration of "niche" can be inferred as a lack of confidence or ambition.

Also, be aware that department Web pages (especially those several pages deep in the site, or maintained by individual faculty) can be woefully out-of-date. If something you are planning to say is contingent on something you read on their Web site, find a way to confirm it!

While the research plan is not the place to articulate start-up needs, you should consider instrumentation and other resources that will be necessary to get started, and where you will go for funding or resources down the road. This will come up in interviews, and hopefully you will eventually need these details to negotiate a start-up package.

Who Is Your Audience?

Your research plan should show the big picture clearly and excite a broad audience of chemists across your sub-discipline. At many educational institutions, everyone in the department will read the proposal critically, at least if you make the short list to interview. Even at departments that leave it all to a committee of the subdiscipline, subdisciplines can be broad and might even still have an outside member on the committee. And the committee needs to justify their actions to the department at large, as well as to deans, provosts, and others. So having at least the introduction and executive summaries of your projects comprehensible and compelling to those outside your discipline is highly advantageous.

Good science, written well, makes a good research plan. As you craft and refine your research plan, keep the following strategies, as well as your audience in mind:

  • Begin the document with an abstract or executive summary that engages a broad audience and shows synergies among your projects. This should be one page or less, and you should probably write it last. This page is something you could manageably consider tailoring to each institution.
  • Provide sufficient details and references to convince the experts you know your stuff and actually have a plan for what your group will be doing in the lab. Give details of first and key experiments, and backup plans or fallback positions for their riskiest aspects.
  • Hook your readers with your own ideas fairly early in the document, then strike a balance between your own new ideas and the necessary well referenced background, precedents, and justification throughout. Propose a reasonable tentative timeline, if you can do so in no more than a paragraph or two, which shows how you envision spacing out the experiments within and among your projects. This may fit well into your executive summary
  • Show how you will involve students (whether undergraduates, graduate students, an eventual postdoc or two, possibly even high schoolers if the school has that sort of outreach, depending on the institutions to which you are applying) and divide the projects among students.
  • Highlight how your work will contribute to the education of these students. While this is especially important at schools with greater teaching missions, it can help set you apart even at research intensive institutions. After all, we all have to demonstrate “broader impacts” to our funding agencies!
  • Include where you will pursue funding, as well as publication, if you can smoothly work it in. This is especially true if there is doubt about how you plan to target or "market" your research. Otherwise, it is appropriate to hold off until the interview to discuss this strategy.

So, How Long Should Your Research Plan Be?

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Here is where the answers diverged the most and without a unifying trend across institutions. Bottom line, you need space to make your case, but even more, you need people to read what you write.

A single page abstract or executive summary of all your projects together provides you an opportunity to make the case for unifying themes yet distinct projects. It may also provide space to articulate a timeline. Indeed, many readers will only read this single page in each application, at least until winnowing down to a more manageable list of potential candidates. At the most elite institutions, there may be literally hundreds of applicants, scores of them entirely well-suited to the job.

While three to five pages per proposal was a common response (single spaced, in 11-point Arial or 12-point Times with one inch margins), including references (which should be accurate, appropriate, and current!), some of my busiest colleagues have said they will not read more than about three pages total. Only a few actually indicated they would read up to 12-15 pages for three projects. In my opinion, ten pages total for your research plans should be a fairly firm upper limit unless you are specifically told otherwise by a search committee, and then only if you have two to three distinct proposals.

Why Start Now?

Hopefully, this question has answered itself already! Your research plan needs to be a well thought out document that is an integrated part of applications tailored to each institution to which you apply. It must represent mature ideas that you have had time to refine through multiple revisions and a great deal of critical review from everyone you can get to read them. Moreover, you may need a few different sets of these, especially if you will be applying to a broad range of institutions. So add “write research plans” to this week’s to do list (and every week’s for the next few months) and start writing up the ideas in that manila folder into some genuine research plans. See which ones survive the process and rise to the top and you should be well prepared when the job ads begin to appear in C&EN in August!

how to write a research proposal for faculty position application

Jason G. Gillmore , Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Chemistry at Hope College in Holland, MI. A native of New Jersey, he earned his B.S. (’96) and M.S. (’98) degrees in chemistry from Virginia Tech, and his Ph.D. (’03) in organic chemistry from the University of Rochester. After a short postdoctoral traineeship at Vanderbilt University, he joined the faculty at Hope in 2004. He has received the Dreyfus Start-up Award, Research Corporation Cottrell College Science Award, and NSF CAREER Award, and is currently on sabbatical as a Visiting Research Professor at Arizona State University. Professor Gillmore is the organizer of the Biennial Midwest Postdoc to PUI Professor (P3) Workshop co-sponsored by ACS, and a frequent panelist at the annual ACS Postdoc to Faculty (P2F) Workshops.

Other tips to help engage (or at least not turn off) your readers include:

  • Avoid two-column formats.
  • Avoid too-small fonts that hinder readability, especially as many will view the documents online rather than in print!
  • Use good figures that are readable and broadly understandable!
  • Use color as necessary but not gratuitously.

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  • ACS Publications

Writing the Research Plan for Your Academic Job Application

  • Sep 8, 2017

Want to get that academic faculty job you’ve been dreaming about? Are you stressed about writing a lengthy research plan as part of the application process? Do not fear. ACS can provide you with guidance on writing a remarkable research plan needed for your academic job application so that you can stand out among other […]

how to write a research proposal for faculty position application

Want to get that academic faculty job you’ve been dreaming about? Are you stressed about writing a lengthy research plan as part of the application process? Do not fear. ACS can provide you with guidance on writing a remarkable research plan needed for your academic job application so that you can stand out among other job applicants.

The mobile-friendly eBook entitled “ Writing the Research Plan for Your Academic Job Application ” includes tips on how to:

  • Tailor your application for each school: Make sure you look at the guidelines that your university requires for the application. If your application matches the qualities of the type of candidate they want, the more likely you will be selected for the desired position. (i.e. Shania is applying to a university and sees that their “Desired Qualifications” list says they want someone who has a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and knowledge using a certain type of equipment. When she includes this experience on her application, the recruiter will prioritize her as one of the top candidates.)
  • Craft your research plan with your audience in mind: The audience reading your research plan will make or break your fate in getting your dream job. If the research plan grabs their attention, it will increase your chances of being hired. (i.e., Britney is starting to write her research plan and begins it with an engaging introduction and provides sufficient details that demonstrate her expertise in the field. If her goal and plan of execution intrigues the audience, she will become a standout candidate.)
  • Determine the length of your plan: The recommended length for a research plan is ten pages. Additionally, you should have a proposal that is 3-5 pages long, which would serve as a summary of your roles and responsibilities if/when hired.

Want to show hiring managers that you’re the most qualified candidate? Download your free eBook to learn what it takes to write an effective research plan for your academic job application!

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/images/cornell/logo35pt_cornell_white.svg" alt="how to write a research proposal for faculty position application"> Cornell University --> Graduate School

Research statement, what is a research statement.

The research statement (or statement of research interests) is a common component of academic job applications. It is a summary of your research accomplishments, current work, and future direction and potential of your work.

The statement can discuss specific issues such as:

  • funding history and potential
  • requirements for laboratory equipment and space and other resources
  • potential research and industrial collaborations
  • how your research contributes to your field
  • future direction of your research

The research statement should be technical, but should be intelligible to all members of the department, including those outside your subdiscipline. So keep the “big picture” in mind. The strongest research statements present a readable, compelling, and realistic research agenda that fits well with the needs, facilities, and goals of the department.

Research statements can be weakened by:

  • overly ambitious proposals
  • lack of clear direction
  • lack of big-picture focus
  • inadequate attention to the needs and facilities of the department or position

Why a Research Statement?

  • It conveys to search committees the pieces of your professional identity and charts the course of your scholarly journey.
  • It communicates a sense that your research will follow logically from what you have done and that it will be different, important, and innovative.
  • It gives a context for your research interests—Why does your research matter? The so what?
  • It combines your achievements and current work with the proposal for upcoming research.
  • areas of specialty and expertise
  • potential to get funding
  • academic strengths and abilities
  • compatibility with the department or school
  • ability to think and communicate like a serious scholar and/or scientist

Formatting of Research Statements

The goal of the research statement is to introduce yourself to a search committee, which will probably contain scientists both in and outside your field, and get them excited about your research. To encourage people to read it:

  • make it one or two pages, three at most
  • use informative section headings and subheadings
  • use bullets
  • use an easily readable font size
  • make the margins a reasonable size

Organization of Research Statements

Think of the overarching theme guiding your main research subject area. Write an essay that lays out:

  • The main theme(s) and why it is important and what specific skills you use to attack the problem.
  • A few specific examples of problems you have already solved with success to build credibility and inform people outside your field about what you do.
  • A discussion of the future direction of your research. This section should be really exciting to people both in and outside your field. Don’t sell yourself short; if you think your research could lead to answers for big important questions, say so!
  • A final paragraph that gives a good overall impression of your research.

Writing Research Statements

  • Avoid jargon. Make sure that you describe your research in language that many people outside your specific subject area can understand. Ask people both in and outside your field to read it before you send your application. A search committee won’t get excited about something they can’t understand.
  • Write as clearly, concisely, and concretely as you can.
  • Keep it at a summary level; give more detail in the job talk.
  • Ask others to proofread it. Be sure there are no spelling errors.
  • Convince the search committee not only that you are knowledgeable, but that you are the right person to carry out the research.
  • Include information that sets you apart (e.g., publication in  Science, Nature,  or a prestigious journal in your field).
  • What excites you about your research? Sound fresh.
  • Include preliminary results and how to build on results.
  • Point out how current faculty may become future partners.
  • Acknowledge the work of others.
  • Use language that shows you are an independent researcher.
  • BUT focus on your research work, not yourself.
  • Include potential funding partners and industrial collaborations. Be creative!
  • Provide a summary of your research.
  • Put in background material to give the context/relevance/significance of your research.
  • List major findings, outcomes, and implications.
  • Describe both current and planned (future) research.
  • Communicate a sense that your research will follow logically from what you have done and that it will be unique, significant, and innovative (and easy to fund).

Describe Your Future Goals or Research Plans

  • Major problem(s) you want to focus on in your research.
  • The problem’s relevance and significance to the field.
  • Your specific goals for the next three to five years, including potential impact and outcomes.
  • If you know what a particular agency funds, you can name the agency and briefly outline a proposal.
  • Give broad enough goals so that if one area doesn’t get funded, you can pursue other research goals and funding.

Identify Potential Funding Sources

  • Almost every institution wants to know whether you’ll be able to get external funding for research.
  • Try to provide some possible sources of funding for the research, such as NIH, NSF, foundations, private agencies.
  • Mention past funding, if appropriate.

Be Realistic

There is a delicate balance between a realistic research statement where you promise to work on problems you really think you can solve and over-reaching or dabbling in too many subject areas. Select an over-arching theme for your research statement and leave miscellaneous ideas or projects out. Everyone knows that you will work on more than what you mention in this statement.

Consider Also Preparing a Longer Version

  • A longer version (five–15 pages) can be brought to your interview. (Check with your advisor to see if this is necessary.)
  • You may be asked to describe research plans and budget in detail at the campus interview. Be prepared.
  • Include laboratory needs (how much budget you need for equipment, how many grad assistants, etc.) to start up the research.

Samples of Research Statements

To find sample research statements with content specific to your discipline, search on the internet for your discipline + “Research Statement.”

  • University of Pennsylvania Sample Research Statement
  • Advice on writing a Research Statement (Plan) from the journal  Science

Writing a Good Research Statement for a Faculty Position

Writing a Good Research Statement for a Faculty Position

Pubrica Study Thumbnail image Image

What are the study limitations, and how should they be stated? 

Parkinsons disease management thumnail 1

A Systematic Review on the Limitations and Challenges of Parkinson’s Disease 

In brief   .

For prospective faculty applications, a research statement is a crucial document. This blog enables applicants to communicate the significance and effect of their previous and, most crucially, future research to their probable colleagues. As an application, you should use this blog to write out your research plans for the following few years, making sure to include a description of how your research will add to your part (1) . Finally, this blog briefly describes the research statement for the faculty position.  


An excellent research statement achieves three main objectives:  

  • It effectively explains your study in non-specialist language;   
  • It sets your findings in a larger scientific medical communication and societal perspective;   
  • It lays out a clear path for future success in the new environment (the institution you’re applying to).  

how to write a research proposal for faculty position application

Task #1: Recognise the Purpose of the Research Statement   

The most common error people make when creating a research statement is failing to recognise its objective. The goal isn’t just to list and quickly discuss all of the projects you’ve accomplished as if you were a museum curator with your research articles serving as exhibits. Most importantly, presenting your research proposal statement as if it were a narrated tour of your life ignores the research statement’s principal goal: to persuade the reader of the value of your accomplished work and the thrill of your future path.  

Task #2: Communicate a Section   

The first paragraph (introduction) reads as follows:  

  • a broad phrase or two describing your study subject;   
  • a thesis statement stating your perspective (e.g., my research is significant); and  
  • a report summarises your three bodies of evidence concisely (e.g., my research is necessary because a, b, and c).  

The second, third, and fourth paragraphs (each of which covers a body of evidence that will support your claim):  

  • a subject sentence (about a single body of evidence);   
  • a fact to back up the assertion made in the topic phrase;  
  • another fact to substantiate the assertion in the subject phrase;  
  • a third fact to back up the assertion in the subject phrase; and  
  • sentence of analysis/transition  

The fifth paragraph (synopsis and conclusion) reads as follows:  

  • Three sentences that restate your topic sentences from the second, third, and fourth paragraphs  
  • One sentence that restates your thesis (e.g., my research is necessary); one sentence that restates your hypothesis. 
  • A phrase that summarises or sums up the analysis/conclusion.  

Although the five-paragraph persuasive essay style appears conventional, it is effective. It appears in almost every effective option ever written and may also be doubled, as with many good recipes.  

Task #3: Visualise Each Audience   

When drafting research statements, the second error individuals make is medical writing for the specialist as if they were speaking to another lab member. In most situations, however, your research statement’s audience will not be well-informed professionals. As a result, without becoming delayed down in terminology, you must explain the value of your work and the contribution of your study. While certain specifics are necessary, an educated reader who is not familiar with your field of study should be able to comprehend every word of your research statement.  

Job Applications . Even in the largest department, it’s unlikely that more than a few people are as knowledgeable about your study field as you are. And those two or three individuals are unlikely to have to recruit an authority.   

Tenure Review . Your research statement will have two target audiences during the tenure review process: members of your department and, if your tenure case obtains a favourable vote in the department, members of the institution at large.  

Award Nominations . Award selection committee members are unlikely to be experts in your specific profession.  

Task #4: Be Succinct   

Many people wander on for much too long while composing a medical research statement . Consider limiting yourself to three pages at most and aiming for two. To help break up the wall of text, use subheadings. If it would help you make a point, you can also include a well-designed figure or graph. (If this is the case, use wrap-around text and make sure your figure’s axes are labelled.)  

Also, don’t attempt to squeeze more in by lowering the margins or font size as you did in college. Most individuals reading your study statement will undoubtedly be older than you, and we older people dislike reading small fonts. It makes us complain, and you don’t want us to feel irritable when reading your study statement ( 2) .  


Writing a good research statement is critical for a researcher, but it takes a lot of time and effort. In this work, we suggest the research statement generation (RSG) job, which seeks to summarise a researcher’s research accomplishments and assist in preparing a formal research statement. It executes a complete effort for this assignment, which includes corpus generation, technique design, and performance evaluation ( 3) . Finally, according to methods, our approach beats all baselines in terms of content coverage and coherence.  

About Pubrica  

Pubrica has expertise in medical writing. Furthermore, the team of medical professionals at Pubrica provides unique medical writing services such as pharmacology, clinical research, public health, Regulatory Writing, biostatistics, Clinical Report Forms (Crf), psychology, life science, dentistry, radiology, dermatology, diabetes, gynecology, cardiology, biochemistry, forensics, surgery, neurology, psychiatry, genomics, pharmaceutical, medical device, nutraceutical, hospitals, 


  • Bhalla, Needhi. “Strategies to improve equity in faculty hiring.”  Molecular biology of the cell  30.22 (2019): 2744-2749.  
  • Gernsbacher, Morton Ann, and Patricia G. Devine. “How to Write a Research Statement.”  APS Observer  26.8 (2013).  
  • Wu, Wenhao, and Sujian Li. “A Comprehensive Attempt to Research Statement Generation.”  arXiv preprint arXiv:2104.14339  (2021).  



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Graduate School Applications: Writing a Research Statement

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What is a Research Statement?

A research statement is a short document that provides a brief history of your past research experience, the current state of your research, and the future work you intend to complete.

The research statement is a common component of a potential candidate’s application for post-undergraduate study. This may include applications for graduate programs, post-doctoral fellowships, or faculty positions. The research statement is often the primary way that a committee determines if a candidate’s interests and past experience make them a good fit for their program/institution.

What Should It Look Like?

Research statements are generally one to two single-spaced pages. You should be sure to thoroughly read and follow the length and content requirements for each individual application.

Your research statement should situate your work within the larger context of your field and show how your works contributes to, complicates, or counters other work being done. It should be written for an audience of other professionals in your field.

What Should It Include?

Your statement should start by articulating the broader field that you are working within and the larger question or questions that you are interested in answering. It should then move to articulate your specific interest.

The body of your statement should include a brief history of your past research . What questions did you initially set out to answer in your research project? What did you find? How did it contribute to your field? (i.e. did it lead to academic publications, conferences, or collaborations?). How did your past research propel you forward?

It should also address your present research . What questions are you actively trying to solve? What have you found so far? How are you connecting your research to the larger academic conversation? (i.e. do you have any publications under review, upcoming conferences, or other professional engagements?) What are the larger implications of your work?

Finally, it should describe the future trajectory on which you intend to take your research. What further questions do you want to solve? How do you intend to find answers to these questions? How can the institution to which you are applying help you in that process? What are the broader implications of your potential results?

Note: Make sure that the research project that you propose can be completed at the institution to which you are applying.

Other Considerations:

  • What is the primary question that you have tried to address over the course of your academic career? Why is this question important to the field? How has each stage of your work related to that question?
  • Include a few specific examples that show your success. What tangible solutions have you found to the question that you were trying to answer? How have your solutions impacted the larger field? Examples can include references to published findings, conference presentations, or other professional involvement.
  • Be confident about your skills and abilities. The research statement is your opportunity to sell yourself to an institution. Show that you are self-motivated and passionate about your project.

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Preparing a research statement for an academic job application

This is not my first blog post on research statements (this one on research statements and research trajectories and this other on research pipelines, research trajectories and research programmes are quite related), but this is perhaps the first time I write about and address the Research Statement as a key component of job applications for tenure-track or post-doctoral positions. We all know how angry and upset I feel about the dismal state of the academic job market(s). However, let us assume that you still want to apply for tenure-track (TT) jobs. I do have some experience applying for (and landing) TT jobs, as well as chairing search committees for these positions. I have also sat on search committees, and have read hundreds of applications. These are thus a few pointers that I think might help potential applicants write their statements.

My desk at work right now. Note the 3 computers :)

We all know the huge role that luck, connections, institutional “pedigree” and other factors play, but for purposes of helping those who want to apply, some ideas that you all may want to consider in crafting your Research Statements. This blog post started as a Twitter thread so I’ve pulled from there too.

One way to write your research statement is to follow a similar model to the blog post I wrote here DO NOTE: In this post, I wrote about writing a Research Statement and crafting a Research Trajectory. This was not by chance. There’s a logic to this. — Dr Raul Pacheco-Vega (@raulpacheco) July 25, 2020

Personally, I think that when departments and universities hire you, they want to see how you develop your work through time . In that sense, the Research Statement that you arrive with (at the time of application) is STATIC . You present a SNAPSHOT of what you’ve done so far.

In my personal view (please don’t take my suggestions as dogma or guidelines!), I think that there is value in developing both a Research Statement and a Research Trajectory (this one is worth considering in both ex-ante and ex-post modes)

A Research Trajectory can one (or both) of two things:

1) it can present a narrative in timeline form of how your thinking has evolved.

2) it can present your Research Plan for the next 5-6 years (pandemics and life will obviously derail that plan!)

So what I have done with my own Research Statements is to present how my research interests have evolved through time. In that sense, my Research Statement is a STATIC snapshot at a certain point in time (at the time of writing, of course!) of how my different research strands have evolved through time (that is, of my Research Trajectory ). Below is an example of how I have done self-reflection about my own Research Statement.

Last year I was invited to participate in a global workshop of a few selected scholars on the future of environmental policy, which surprised a couple of people. Well, here’s the thing: at the beginning of my career, I *was* a specialist in environmental policy instruments.

Now, my own thinking about the importance, value, structure and content of the Research Plan, Research Trajectory, Research Pipeline and Research Statement has evolved (most recent iteration can be found here ) What must be clear from my blog is that… — Dr Raul Pacheco-Vega (@raulpacheco) July 25, 2020
… to observe and read many Research Statements (or research narratives, as you may want to call them), but I recently came across @paullagunes ‘ revamped website, and I really, really liked how he narrates his work Paul explains his projects through time — Dr Raul Pacheco-Vega (@raulpacheco) July 25, 2020

Paul also explains very well how his work contributes to theoretical debates and the empirical literature. Paul is an excellent writer and you may consider reading through his website and published work to see how he crafts his narratives.

If people want to learn more about how to craft a Research Statement, I think one strategy would be to poke around and read the “Research” pages of various scholars’ websites to find patterns. That is how I have learned much of what I now write about, by looking at many scholars’ strategies, distilling them and adapting them into something that works FOR ME.

I said I had two pieces of advice. But in reality, I think it’s just that one: for me, a Research Statement of a candidate tells me what they’ve done, if/where it is published or under review, and how those pieces of work fit a coherent, cohesive narrative of their research .

As someone with interdisciplinary training who continues to do interdisciplinary work, I often struggle when people want to categorize me (am I a geographer, a political scientist, a public administration scholar, a sociologist?). Truth be told, the way I have made peace with this challenge of being interdisciplinary when being in disciplinary departments (who say they want interdisciplinarity but judge you by their disciplinary norms) is to show how my work speaks to the debates of their discipline.

Also, my work (though it cuts through different disciplines and methods), is centred around ONE key question that has puzzled me my entire life: what drives agents to cooperate and collaborate? ?

Studying collaborative behaviour has led me to write on environmental activism and transnational coalitions.

And yes, I study cooperation and collaboration, but often times there are factors that preclude these and lead to disputes, which is why I ALSO study protests, activist mobilization and conflict: Studying water conflict has led me to study this resource. — Dr Raul Pacheco-Vega (@raulpacheco) July 25, 2020
… the study of cooperation and conflict for the governance of orthodox and unorthodox commons (or common pool resources). Anyhow, just my two cents in hopes this thread may help those crafting their research statements. </end thread> — Dr Raul Pacheco-Vega (@raulpacheco) July 25, 2020

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Tagged with research pipeline , research plan , research statement , research trajectory .

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About Raul Pacheco-Vega, PhD

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Office of postdoctoral studies, research statement, what is a research statement.

A common component of the academic job application is the Research Statement (or Statement of Research Interests). This statement provides a summary of your research accomplishments and current work and discusses the future direction and potential of your work. The statement can discuss specific issues such as funding history and potential, requirements for laboratory equipment and space, and potential research and industrial collaborations. It should be technical, but should remain intelligible to any member of the department. Because it has the potential to be read by people outside of your subdiscipline, the “big picture” is important to keep in mind. The strongest research statements present a readable, compelling, and realistic research agenda that fits well with the needs, facilities, and goals of the department. Research statements can be weakened by overly ambitious proposals, by lack of clear direction, by lack of big-picture focus, or if inadequate attention is given to the needs and facilities of the department or position.

Some general advice on research statements:

  • The goal of the research statement is to introduce yourself to a search committee, which will probably contain scientists both in and outside your field, and get them excited about your research. The statement may be two or more pages, keeping in mind that you want people to read it. So don’t make it too long, use informative section headings, don’t use a tiny font, don’t make the margins ridiculously small, etc. It is better to use a larger font and let it run over another page than to squeeze it all onto two pages.
  • The main theme(s) and why it is important and what specific skills you use to attack the problem.
  • A couple of specific examples of problems you have already worked on with success – to build credibility and give people outside your field an idea of what it is you do.
  • A discussion of the future direction of your research. This section should build on the above and be really, really exciting to people both in and outside your field. Don’t sell yourself short. If you think that your research could lead to answers for big exciting questions – say so! You’ve already built up credibility in the previous section, now reach for the stars.
  • Tie it all off with a final paragraph that leaves the reader with a good overall impression of your research.
  • There is a delicate balance between a realistic research statement where you promise to work on problems you really do think you can solve and over-reaching or dabbling in too many subject areas. You probably want to select an over-arching theme for your research statement and leave some miscellaneous ideas or projects out of it. Everyone knows that you will work on more than what you mention in this statement.
  • Pay attention to jargon. You want most readers to understand everything in your statement. Make sure that you describe your research in language that many people outside your specific subject area can understand. Ask people both in and outside your field to read it before you submit your application. Remember that the goal is to get the search committee excited about you – they won’t get excited about something they can’t understand.
  • It will be helpful to point out how some faculty at the department/university that you are applying to could be your collaborators in research and/or teaching.
  • Be sure to include potential funding partners or industrial collaboration! Be creative!
  • The research statement should convince the search committee not only that you are knowledgeable, but that you are the person to carry out the research.
  • If you have something that sets you apart (e.g. a publication in Science, Nature, or a very prestigious journal in your field), you may want to include it.
  • There are no excuses for spelling errors.
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The Professor Is In

Guidance for all things PhD: Graduate School, Job Market and Careers

how to write a research proposal for faculty position application

Dr. Karen’s Rules of the Research Statement

By Karen Kelsky | September 16, 2016

We’ve looked at the Cover Letter and the CV  and the Teaching Statement .  Today we look at the Research Statement.

An expanded and updated version of this post can now be found in chapter  27 of my book, the professor is in: the essential guide to turning your ph.d. into a job ..

Today, at long last, and in response to popular demand, a post on the Research Statement.

I have, perhaps, procrastinated on blogging about the Research Statement because at some level I felt that the rules might be more variable on this document, particularly with regard to length.

But in truth, they really aren’t.

The RS should be be two pages long for any junior candidate in the humanities or soft social sciences.  Two pages allows for an elaboration of the research well beyond the summary in the cover letter that gives the search committee substantial information to work with. Those junior candidates in the hard sciences and fields like Psychology can have 3-4 page research statements.

I strongly urge all job-seekers to investigate the norms of their individual fields carefully, and follow the advice they receive on this matter from experts in their own fields.  Just never simply ASSUME that longer is better in an RS or in any job document.

By the way, the RS to which I refer here is the document sometimes requested as part of a basic job application.  This is NOT the “research proposal” required by specific fellowship or postdoc applications!   Those will specify a length, and should be written to follow the outline I describe in Dr. Karen’s Foolproof Grant Template .) They are a totally different genre of document; don’t confuse the two!

Anyway, back to the RS: there are undoubtedly a number of excellent reasons that people could give for writing a longer RS, based on thoroughness or detail or concerns for accuracy. And I would acknowledge those principles as valid ones.

But they would all come second to the single most important principle of all job market writing, in my view, which is the principle of search committee exhaustion.

Search committee members are exhausted, and they are overwhelmed and distracted. There simply is no bandwidth in their brains or their psyches to handle the amount of material they are required to read, when searches routinely garner between 300 and 1000 applications.

Anything that feels “long” is going to be resented just by virtue of its length. And resentment is categorically what you don’t want a search committee member feeling about your job application materials.

So, in short, the Research Statement, just like the Teaching Statement , needs to be one to two pages in length, single spaced.  And like the TS, it needs to be in 11 or 12 point font, and have decent one-inch margins.

What are the other rules? Here they are:

  • Print the RS on regular printer paper. Do not use letterhead for this or the TS, and do not use any special high grade paper.
  • Put your name and the words “Research Statement” centered at the top.
  • If unsure how to structure, use a 5-paragraph model as follows:

[… edited… ] 

Here are some additional principles:

  • A RS (like a TS) is not tailored to a school overtly. While you may subtly adjust your project descriptions to speak to a specific type of job, you do not refer to any job or department or application in the statement itself.
  • Do not refer to any other job documents in the RS (ie, “As you can see from my CV, I have published extensively….”)
  • As in all job documents, remain strictly at the level of the evidentiary. State what you did, what you concluded, what you published, and why it matters for your discipline, period. Do not editorialize or make grandiose claims (“this research is of critical importance to…”).
  • Do not waste precious document real estate on what other scholars have NOT done. Never go negative. Stay entirely in the realm of what you did, not what others didn’t.
  • Do not position yourself as “extending” or “adding to” or “building off of” or … [what follows is edited…]
  • Do not refer to other faculty or scholars in the document. The work is your own. If you co-authored a piece…
  • Do not refer to yourself as studying “under” anybody…
  • Do not forget to articulate the core argument of your research. I am astounded at how often (probably in about 80% of client documents) I have to remind clients to …
  • Give a sense of a publishing trajectory, moving from past to present…
  • Make sure you are not coming across as a one-trick pony. The second major project must be clearly distinct …
  • Use the active voice as much as possible, but beware a continual reliance on “I-Statements”, as I describe in this post, The Golden Rule of the Research Statement.

I will stop here. Readers, please feel free to add more in the comments.  I will add to this post as further refinements come to mind.

Similar Posts:

  • This Christmas, Don’t Be Cheap
  • The Dreaded Teaching Statement: Eight Pitfalls
  • What is Evidence of Teaching Excellence?
  • The Golden Rule of the Research Statement
  • How Do I Address Search Committee Members?

Reader Interactions

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August 30, 2012 at 12:38 pm

I am interested in applying for Ph.D programs in the UK and they ask for a Research Proposal…is this the same thing as a Research Statement?

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August 30, 2012 at 12:59 pm

No, they are looking for what you might think of as a research protocol, so literally your background, literature review, hypotheses and methods. You would need to convey how this is a unique area of research that is novel and adds to the existing literature; they are assessing the novelty of your research and how you would conduct the study. PhD programs in the UK are heavily researched based; you would need to show that you could literally hit the ground running to do your PhD. A major difference is that UK PhD’s usually take 3-4 years full-time and this is stringently enforced. I have a PhD from the UK and there are obviously pros and cons compared to the US system but you need to be a confident researcher if you’re planning to take that route.

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August 30, 2012 at 1:28 pm

No: a Research Proposal is intended as a pitch for a specific project, or the research programme you will undertake within a specific timeframe (such as a PhD or a post-doc). A Research Statement is used for applications for jobs and occasionally fellowships, and outlines the research you have *already* completed, and what you plan to pursue next. So your Research Statement will describe your doctoral thesis as a finished (or very nearly finished) product, and list the publications generated by your doctoral work and any subsequent projects.

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August 30, 2012 at 2:12 pm

No, a research proposal is a description of what you would like to do for you PhD research. Essentially an outline of your expected PhD thesis (which can of course change later once you’ve been accepted and started working on your research) with a short lit review, an identification of a research gap that you plan to address and a brief outline of proposed methods.

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August 30, 2012 at 12:46 pm

What about in the case where you are asked to provide a “Teaching and Research Statement” in addition to a statement of your teaching philosophy? I have gone for a one page statement which focuses on my research but links that to my teaching so as not to repeat too much from my philosophy or my cover letter. Any thoughts from others?

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August 30, 2012 at 5:02 pm

I’m preparing a “Teaching and Research Statement” and have kept it at 2 pages (1 page for teaching and 1 for research). Do others think that’s OK? If it’s 1 page total, for both teaching and research, then how much could I really say? That’s so short, less room than a 2-page cover letter.

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September 1, 2012 at 9:05 am

Yes, on occasions where jobs ask for that combined statement, I always work with clients to do a two page document, with one page devoted to each part.

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September 20, 2017 at 10:09 am

Found the blog this week… I wish I found sooner!! Gongrats! One add-on question: in the case of a combined document, would you start with the RS and then TS, or it doesn’t make much difference?

September 21, 2017 at 9:56 am

I’d start with RS in general, but it would depend on the job – teaching-centric jobs would be the reverse.

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September 16, 2021 at 7:13 pm

Hello, so glad I found your blog! The application I am putting together requests a statement of research philosophy, a teaching philosophy, and a combined research and teaching interests statement. In this case, would one page combined be sufficient with a much briefer review of interests in each area (given that so much more detail is available in the philosophy statements)?

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August 30, 2012 at 1:21 pm

In my field in R1 jobs it is pretty rare that one is asked to prepare a research statement. This stuff does in the cover letter. Any insight into when one is asked for this?

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August 30, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Field dependent, but as KK points out, you should have a research paragraph (or two) in your cover letter anyway…

August 30, 2012 at 1:26 pm

The above echoes my experience. One obvious caveat would be postdocs and such that either stipulate a longer statement length (the ol’ two page Fulbright IIE style), or suggest a wider range of material should be included.

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August 30, 2012 at 2:50 pm

Thanks for the tips – a very useful post! How do these apply to postdoc applications?

– If the required length of the research statement is not stipulated, would one page also be sufficient for a postdoc application?

– Also, what is the convention for naming (with title) your advisor in the cover letter – should this also be avoided?

August 30, 2012 at 1:30 pm

In terms of the 5-paragraph model, where would you include subsequent projects, i.e if you are on your second or third post-doc. Do you give equal time/space to each project you have completed, or just the basic run-down and focus more on current or upcoming work?

August 30, 2012 at 3:46 pm

This is a good question. If you’re well beyond the diss, then you will use the “diss” para to describe your most important recent research, then at the end of that para or in the next one, indicate with a sentence or two the research that preceded it (demonstrating an organic connection between them if possible), with a major publication or two. And then from that, move to the next major project. So it’s a bit more of a zig zag, with the past sandwiched between (and subordinate to) the present and the future.

August 30, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Let me respond in a different way. if you are a senior scholar applying for an associate or full position, then your RS may certainly be longer than one page (although I’d cap it at two, myself). The one page rule applies most to those who are seeking their first or second assistant professor position.

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August 30, 2012 at 4:10 pm

Where is the appropriate place to highlight (solo or lead-author) publications developed outside of your dissertation work? For example, a secondary area of inquiry that runs tangential to your core area of research.

September 1, 2012 at 9:08 am

That can get another paragraph. Now, this is tricky. If you have an *extensive* secondary body of work for whatever reason then in that case, you may be one of the people who can go onto two pages. This is rare—most job seekers just have their diss, its pubs, and a planned second project, and that can all go on one page. If you have a small body of secondary research, that can also still fit on one page. So the judgment call comes in knowing how much is “too much” to legitimately fit on one page. Questions like that are what people hire me for!

August 30, 2012 at 5:07 pm

I’m wondering about repeating myself. The 5-paragraph format for the research statement is very similar to the format for the cover letter. So should we more briefly discuss points we’ve fleshed out in the cover letter, to save the space for points that are not in the cover letter? Or is repeating the info in the research statement and cover letter OK/expected? (If you’re repeating yourself, then there’s the issue of figuring out X different ways to say the same thing.)

I answer this in another response, but basically you have the space here to go into far more detail about the scholarship itself—the methods, the theoretical orientation, a very brief and edited literature context, and a strong statement of contribution to the discipline. You can give chapter summaries of about one sentence each, and you can also describe the publications in a sentence or two (not possible in the job letter). And the biggest thing in the RS is the description of the second project. The cover letter devotes a very short paragraph to that, of approximately 2-3 sentences, but in the RS, it can get a full-sized paragraph.

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January 21, 2020 at 1:11 pm

This is a very delayed response, but I’m hoping you still get the notification! I want to make sure that it’s appropriate to cite specific authors in describing the lit context. Thank you much!

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August 30, 2012 at 7:30 pm

I struggle with para. 4 because I have 3 major post-diss projects in mind. 2 are off-shoots of the diss. material in the sense that they contribute to the same field as my diss. but look at very different aspects than my diss. covered. The 3rd project is a completely different trajectory with little-no connection to my diss. I fear it sounds “out of left field” as they say, but it’s my dream-project. So I’m not sure how to communicate all of these interests. Thoughts?

September 1, 2012 at 9:12 am

This is a huge question, and one that I’m going to edit the post to include. It is critical that no job seeker propose more than one next project. This may seem counter-intuitive. Surely, the more ideas I have, the more intellectually dynamic I look, right? Wrong. Anything above one major post-diss project makes you look scattered and at risk in your eventual tenure case. A tenure case requires a clear and linear trajectory from the diss, its pubs, to a second project, and its pubs.

Now, I hasten to add that this rule applies most firmly in the humanities and humanistically inclined social sciences. In the hard sciences, and experimental or lab-based social sciences, the rhythm of research and publishing is different and different rules might possibly apply, with a larger number of smaller-scale projects possible. But in book fields, you need to do one book…and then a second book…for tenure.

September 4, 2012 at 9:49 am

thanks Karen, I will keep this in mind

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October 22, 2016 at 9:01 am

Do you know of a source for more information about this problem from the hard sciences and engineering perspective?

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August 30, 2012 at 10:02 pm

In a research proposal (i.e., for a specific postdoc), what is the appropriate length of time for revising a dissertation for publication? My instinct is, for a 3-year program, to devote 2 years to revision/publication, and one year to the new research project. Is this too slow, too fast, too hot, too cold, or just right?

September 1, 2012 at 9:00 am

To my mind that is exactly right. However, I know of a major Ivy League 3-year fellowship that expects 3 years to be spent on the first book. I find that baffling. As a postdoc you have few teaching obligations and almost no committee/service work….why would it require three years to transform your diss to a book in that environment? This particular app does allow you to *optionally* propose a second project for the third year, and I recommend that all applicants do that.

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August 30, 2012 at 10:07 pm

Karen, thanks for this and all of your other helpful posts. I’m a sociology phd student at a top department, and served on the hiring committee last year. Not a single applicant made it onto our short list (or even the “semifinalist” list of 30 candidates) with less than a 2 page research statement (and most were 2.5-3 pages). Maybe my institution is unique, or maybe they were poorly written and not as detailed as they could have been in one page. But I just wanted to share my experience for any sociologists reading this blog.

September 1, 2012 at 9:01 am

That’s interesting. That would seem to be fetishizing length qua length…. the work can be described in one page when the one page is well written.

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September 4, 2012 at 7:45 am

I’m in a top psychology program, and I echo this– I have read many research statements for short-listed candidates in my department, and I have never seen a research statement shorter than two pages, and typically they are three or four.

September 5, 2012 at 10:27 am

I crowd sourced the question on FB and most responses said they favor a one page version. I suppose this could be a field specific thing. The humanities are def. one page. It strikes me that social sciences and psych in particular might be tending toward longer. I really wouldn’t recommend more than two though.

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September 17, 2013 at 8:58 am

I am writing my own R.S. and have asked for copies from colleagues in both psychology and the life sciences. In all cases, the R.S. has been at least 4 pages. So, it doesn’t seem specific to just the social sciences. Maybe it’s a difference in the prestige of the universities, with R-1 preferring lengthier research statements, while liberal arts universities prefer a smaller research statement. Most candidates at R-1s also have lengthier C.V.s which would imply a longer R.S. no?

September 17, 2013 at 9:48 pm

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October 15, 2013 at 8:17 pm

I’d seen a lot of recommendations online for RSs to have a hard limit of either one or two pages. When I asked my own (Education) professors about it, they said that two pages sounded short and that they’d seen everything from one page to ten pages but recommended keeping it no longer than 3-4. Right now mine is 2.5 pages.

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August 30, 2012 at 10:24 pm

Thanks for this really helpful post! A few quick quick follow up questions that I’m sure may benefit others who have similar concerns. 1. As we situate our dissertation research within our fields (paragraph 2/3) does this mean we have license to use field-specific vocabulary or theoretical language? (as opposed to the cover letter, where we’re writing in a much more accessible voice?) 2. Also, many of the items in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th paragraphs you suggest would seem to overlap quite extensively with the cover letter, making it hard to properly differentiate what goes where. For schools that require this statement, should we just strip down our cover letter and include some of these details in our research statement? Or, is there something I’m missing? And finally, 3. A bit of a mega-question, but what is the *point* of a research statement? Why do some schools have them? Understanding the reasons some departments request it would be helpful, especially in differentiating from the cover letter. Sincerely, Grad-student-on-the-market

September 1, 2012 at 8:58 am

Never strip down the cover letter. That is the document that opens the door for the reading of the other docs such as TS and RS. The distinction of the RS is that it can be more field-specific and far more detailed than what you can provide in the single para devoted to the research in the job letter. You can also situate the research vis-a-vis scholarship in the field (carefully and within limits, remembering the rules that the work described is YOUR OWN, and never to devote precious real estate to what OTHER PEOPLE have or have not done).

You can also briefly sketch the chapters of the dissertation as long as you give no more than about one sentence per chapter. One of the most tedious pitfalls of the RS is the exhaustive chapter-by-chapter description of the diss.

And re #3: that’s a great question. What IS the point? Basically, if the cover letter and CV open the door to your candidacy for the very first cut in a search comm member’s mind (say, from 500 to 100), then the RS gives more detailed indication that are a hard-hitting scholar with a sophisticated research program and a body of dense scholarship that will yield the publications you need for tenure, and also answer the question more clearly as to your fit for the job and for the department.

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August 31, 2012 at 9:32 am

Is the Research statement the same as the diss abstract? My field seems to consistently ask for diss abstract and all the examples I have seen are two pages, with page one being a discussion of the project, it’s contributions, etc. and the second being ch descriptions.

August 31, 2012 at 12:05 pm

No, the diss abs. is an abstract of the diss! Common in English.

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November 2, 2012 at 11:26 am

thanks for making this distinction. is there a length limit on the diss abstract?

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September 1, 2012 at 12:08 pm

I’m in a STEM field and would disagree with limiting the RS to 1 page. Most research statements that I have seen (for searches at R1 schools) have been 2-3 pages. One aspect of this which may be different in STEM fields compared to social sciences/humanities is that in STEM you really should include between 1 and 3 figures in the research statement. We like data and we want to see yours. My research statements always included at least two figures – one from published work and one from a cool new result that wasn’t yet published (but was either in review or accepted but not in press, making it hard to scoop). Depending on the school I also sometimes included a picture of a cool method (it’s a pretty pic too) – that was typically done for SLAC apps where I was also making the point that I would be able to involve their students in that research. With figures that are actually readable, there is no way to get away with less than 2-3 pages for a research statement. Again I think this may be STEM specific but given how scientists read journals – most folks go straight to the figures and then later look at the text – this is probably a good tactic in those fields.

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September 4, 2012 at 12:21 pm

I love the idea that a research statement could include figures. I’ve never seen one like this (I’m in biological anthropology) and have never thought this would be something that could be included.

September 5, 2012 at 10:25 am

In the hard sciences this is not uncommon.

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September 1, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Forgive me for bringing up/asking the perhaps obvious. So no master’s thesis mention?

Also, you mention not providing two second projects. Would that still apply if one is far-away foreign, and the other local?

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September 4, 2012 at 9:43 am

Another question on the MA – mine was empirical research published in a general science journal (Proc B) so I definitely need to mention it. But my question is whether I should explicitly say that this was my MA project?

I’m entering the job market ABD.

September 5, 2012 at 10:26 am

avoid framing yourself as a student, particularly MA.

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September 4, 2012 at 9:32 am

I’d say, especially for humanities fields, the “baseline” of 1 page single-spaced that Karen mentions is correct. As she says in the post, there are obvious exceptions (STEM might want more, specific jobs might want more), but assuming 1 page without any other specific information is a good standard rule. In fact, from my own experience, 1 page generally works for any document that isn’t your vitae or your job letter.

The reason I say this is because you basically want to make a good impression pretty quickly. Job committees have limited time, and they are probably going to scan your document before deciding whether it is worth reading it in full. I’d also suggest reading up on document design, and making your documents easy to scan by putting in effective headers that give a powerful overall impression of your candidacy. You should also design those headers to lure your readers to look at your work more closely.

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September 4, 2012 at 12:04 pm

I’m going through the process right now as an ABD, following advice from many quarters including TPII and a number of junior and senior faculty in top departments in my field. I have collected sample statements from 5 successful candidates and they are all in the 3-5 page range, closer to what the sociologist above describes. I have not seen a single statement at one page.

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September 4, 2012 at 6:23 pm

When proposing future research, do you still recommend we avoid stating what others have NOT done? Can these types of statements, “yet others have not yet address xxx and yyy”, be helpful in justifying the need for our proposed topic?

It is always good to indicate, rather briskly, “in contrast to other work that has emphasized xxx…” or “no studies to date have examined xxxx.” What I am cautioning against is the very common temptation among young candidates to harp on and on about other scholars’ shortcomings, or how their diss topic is “badly understudied” (a phrase I’d give my right hand never to have to read again). Can the self-righteousness and just describe your work and its contribution.

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September 7, 2012 at 12:54 pm

thanks for the post!

I had a question about not giving the sense that one is “extending” past work. As you say in this post: “Avoid the temptation to describe how you will “continue” or “extend” your previous research topics or approaches.”

In my case, my book will be comprised of about half new material and half dissertation research. “Extending” feels like an accurate word to describe the relationship between the diss and the book. Like, ‘Extending my diss research on xxx, the book offers new ways of thinking about issues yyy and zzz. …’

So is this the wrong way to describe the relationship between book and diss (even if it seems accurate?) What are *good* ways to talk about the relationship between the two when the book really does “build on” groundwork laid in the diss?

September 7, 2012 at 2:45 pm

This question actually requires a blog post on its own. There is a weird fixation among job seekers on the word ‘extend.” I don’t get it, and find it mystifying and irritating. Of course books or second projects will typically have some organic connection to the diss. But the insistence on saying that they “extend” the diss makes the DISS primary, and the new work secondary. But on the job market and in your career, the diss must NOT be primary. The diss is something a grad student writes. You are not applying to be a grad student. You are applying to be professor. So it’s the new material that should have primacy. Yet young job seekers are so myopically fixated on their diss that all they ever do is harp on and on about how every single damned thing they’re going to do next is basically a reworking of the diss material. Yuck! Who wants that?

As you can see, I am a bit reactive at this point…

September 7, 2012 at 2:53 pm

ok! I hear you saying that it is more about not giving the sense, throughout the letter, that the book is a mere “extension” of the dissertation, and that typically this word is overused by applicants and thus gives that impression. That makes sense. Personally, the sentence I noted above about is my only reference to the diss–the rest is all about the book and future project since I’m a postdoc and the diss is really in the past. 🙂 thanks!

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September 15, 2012 at 7:19 pm

Thanks for the helpful guidelines, Karen!

How would you recommend shifting the focus of the paragraphs for those of us going on the market as postdocs? For me, I’ll have completed 2 years of a postdoc in Education, and so I have many new projects more relevant to my future research than my dissertation was. However, except for a few conference proceedings, I have no publications on my postdoc research yet. In fact, some of my proposed “new” research will be to continue what I began in my postdoctoc. Do hiring committees look down upon this?

Thanks for your advice!

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September 22, 2012 at 5:58 am

Does anyone here know if this is an effective format for British Oxbridge postdocs as well? I’m finishing a UK PhD and pretty keen to stay in the country, and obviously these are madly competitive. I know my research is good, but the eternal question of how to make anything in the humanities sound important to other people, you know?

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October 13, 2012 at 5:31 pm

Please tag this post so that it appears under the teaching and research statement category!

October 13, 2012 at 9:05 pm

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October 29, 2012 at 4:38 pm

Karen: “Just never simply ASSUME that longer is better in an RS or in any job document”

Yours Truly: “Just never simply ASSUME that they are going to read what you write. Often they a long CV, RS, and list of publications to tick all the boxes and cover their backs.”

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November 20, 2012 at 1:35 pm

If I consider teaching and curriculum development part of my research, is it okay to mention this in the RS–specifically if written for a university more focused on teaching than research? My assumption is that R1 schools would look down on this…?

November 20, 2012 at 2:56 pm

Unless you’re in the field of education, you can’t include teaching or curric. in a RS.

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December 16, 2012 at 11:44 pm

Than you very much Karen. A valuable guide

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December 31, 2012 at 7:37 pm

Does the rule of no more than one future project description apply to the field of developmental psychology?

*Please delete above post with my full name, I did not realize it would post

January 1, 2013 at 9:35 am

You would need to investigate that among your profs and colleagues. I don’t know the expectations of all fields well enough to advise.

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September 18, 2013 at 4:10 pm

I wrote a research statement and asked a friend in my department look at it. She said I should include a paragraph on collaborative work I’ve done as well. The problem is that all of my “collaborative” work is really “assistance”. I do not want to frame myself as a graduate student, but I also see the value in highlighting my ability to produce scholarship with other people. Any thoughts on this, Karen or others?

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September 27, 2013 at 8:37 pm

Many thanks! I searched through a tone of sites for samples and examples, but yours is the most helpful.

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September 29, 2013 at 7:32 am

Does one use references and include a reference list in a research statement?

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October 24, 2013 at 10:40 am

I’d like to know the answer to this question, too.

Karen’s advise (Do not refer to other faculty or scholars in the document. The work is your own. If you co-authored a piece, do not use the name of the co-author. Simply write, “I have a co-authored essay in the Journal of XXX.”) sounds like you shouldn’t, but I personally see more advantages (that’s what scholars are used to, you can reference one paper multiple times without much space, you give the full information of your papers) then disadvantages (mention other authors).

So some remarks on using reference lists/bibliographies would be really interesting.

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October 11, 2013 at 2:17 pm

You mention that P4 should include: “A summary of the next research project, providing a topic, methods, a theoretical orientation, and brief statement of contribution to your field or fields.”

How specific do you need to get with that information? I want the review committees to see that I have good, viable ideas for future research, but at the same time I’m worried that by giving too many details my ideas are liable to get stolen…not to mention that more detail means a lot more space on the document and I’m already finding it really hard to keep it to 2 pages even just using pretty general info. All the example research statements from my field that I’m reading make generalized statements like, “This area of my research will focus on developing and characterizing the structure of smart multifunctional materials for infrastructure applications,” but that just doesn’t seem like enough…

Thanks for the advice! Your blog has been so valuable as I am preparing my application package. 🙂

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October 24, 2013 at 8:52 am

Hi Karen, I am applying for a few Phd positions & programs around the world, and some programs ask for a research statement, some for a statement of purpose. I fell Ill during my master’s studies and it had impacted my studies to the point of taking a leave of absence(and is known by my referees). As I understand, I can mention that in a SOP, but not in a research statement. Is there anyway I can communicate to the admissions committee about my situation (within the scope of my application) ?

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October 30, 2013 at 7:13 am

Hello, Karen, I am an old follower returning. In a research statement, do you give considerably less space to what is already published, books and articles, and much more space and detail to describe projects(s) in progress or about to be launched as research proposal applications?

October 31, 2013 at 7:32 am

I recommend balancing about half and half; in the case of very young/junior candidates, though, the previous/current stuff is going to far outweigh the future stuff.

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November 6, 2013 at 12:32 am

I am applying to an R1 and part of the app package asks for a “statement of research interests”. it sounds self-evident, but this is different from a research statement, right? They are, in fact, wanting to know what my future research projects are, to ascertain if i am a good prospect, correct?

Many thanks, Karen and co.!!!

November 8, 2013 at 10:40 am

No. it’s the same thing.

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November 8, 2013 at 2:35 pm

Hi, I am applying to graduate school, and some programs ask for a research statement. I have not done any independent research, but have worked in a lab under a postdoc for three years. As a undergrad, is it okay to refer to the postdoc by name and say that I was assisting? Should this be structured any differently than the model you gave above? Thanks!

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January 20, 2014 at 5:02 am

I’m applying for a PhD scholarship and I’m required to write a research statement. Is there any different format for a PhD student to be or just follow the same as per above?

Thanks a lot!

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February 7, 2014 at 10:58 am

Hi, Could you please let me know if it is proper to mention some of projects in a certain master course that one took? I asked this because I am applying for a position that almost there is not a direct relation between my master thesis and my prospective PhD supervisor’s research interests. Thank you in advance.

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February 21, 2014 at 11:23 pm

If some of your research background was for a government agency and your results went to government documents and forms, are you allowed to include it in your research statement. For example, I am applying for a job that calls for a research statement in which I would be designing stream sampling plans and in the past I worked for state government designing and implementing SOPs for stream sampling and EPA reports. This experience is much more applicable to the job than my dissertation research is. In other words, is the RS more to show I can do research and think like a researcher or that I have done similar research in the past?

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March 6, 2014 at 10:00 am

Hi, This post has been really helpful to me. I have a question about citations in a research statement. Should I cite relevant or seminal studies? Or is a research statement assumed to be written out of the authors own confidence, experience, and general knowledge of their field of study? If yes to citations, is there an optimal amount? Thank you!

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April 26, 2014 at 11:01 am

I dont understand why I cannot name who I collaborated with, or worked with and claim complete ownership. Most of all disseration ideas comes out of a collaborative effort. Seems kinda lame to suddenly act like every idea is all mine without giving due credit.

April 26, 2014 at 12:00 pm

it’s not claiming ownership. It’s focusing on the work that YOU did as part of the project and not dispersing attention to other scholars, in this particular document.

April 28, 2014 at 10:09 am

I disagree. All of your recommendations are valid except for this one. In science and engineering, almost all dissertation work is collaborative; that’s how it works, either through industry applications, a reagent or mathematical technique, opportunity to apply theory to projects etc. Of course, the student has to compe up with the research questions and hypothesis and methodologies but it is very rare for one lab to have everything that the student needs in-house and even rarer for the work to be done in complete isolation (you don’t see that many two author papers in STEM fields these days). Including names of other people would actually be a good thing as it shows a willingness to interact and collaborate with a diverse set of people, picking up new skills and perspectives; this is how science is done these days. Of course the research thrust should be from the individual, but that is like a given.

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October 26, 2014 at 8:00 pm

I am also in a STEM field, and all of my research has been collaborative to one degree or another. In my tenure-track applications last year, I mainly phrased my research statement to say that I work with YYY group on YYY, lead studies of ZZZ within the ZZZ Collaboration, and so on. I didn’t get any interviews.

This year I received some feedback from a new letter writer (and current collaborator), who thought that last year’s statement made it hard for outsiders to tell what specific ideas I had and what I specifically did about those ideas. When I rewrote my research statement to focus on those issues this year, I ended up with a stronger document that didn’t need to mention my collaborators at all — not because I tried to claim credit for everything, but because I wrote about my own contributions rather than the corporate identity.

Since jobs go to individuals and not corporations, I am strongly inclined to agree with Karen’s advice, even for STEM fields. In fact, it may be even more important for those of us with highly collaborative research to discuss our own contributions and leave our colleagues out of our research statements. The CV/publication list makes it clear that we interact and collaborate with others. The difficulty is to demonstrate what I actually did as author #13 (in alphabetical order) that makes me actually worth hiring.

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April 29, 2014 at 5:03 am

Dear Karen, I am applying for a faculty position and have been asked to provide along with the usual CV and cover letter “Research Program Plan” and “Teaching philosophy”. Could you please or anyone inform me if the “Research Program Plan”is the same as the RS or a detailed research proposal? Additionally, should I include in the teaching philosophy an experience in my undergraduate that has shaped my teaching philosophy? Finally, should my TP include any courses ever taught or course proposals? Your candid response will be appreciated. Thanks

April 29, 2014 at 8:00 am

The RPP is the same as a RS. Please read all my posts on the Teaching Statement for more on that—do NOT include your undergrad experiences. Check out my column in Chronicle Vitae for more on that question–it’s the column on how to apply to a Small Liberal Arts College (SLAC) job.

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July 16, 2014 at 3:39 am

Dear Karen, I am applying for a postdoc position in Spain and have been asked to provide along with CV and references, a “cover letter with a description of research accomplishments and statement of overall scientific goals and interests (approximately 1000 words)”. This messes up the usual structure I have in mind. What do you suggest? Two different files or a hybrid between them in one file? thanks

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September 17, 2014 at 1:12 pm

Hi Dr. Karen,

I just wanted to say thanks for such an awesome article and the pointers.

Cheers Sajesh

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October 13, 2014 at 4:15 pm

I am a bit confused about what a “statement of previous researc” looks like. Any insights?

October 14, 2014 at 12:59 pm

basically this RS doc, without anything about future research.

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October 22, 2014 at 5:49 pm

I’m applying for a tenure track position in Strategic Management but my dissertation was on a topic related to my field, pharmaceuticals. How do I craft a RS if I really haven’t thought about future research in topics related to management but my teaching experience and work experience (line management) is directly related to management/leadership?

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October 27, 2014 at 12:38 pm

Hi, Dr. Karen,

I’m applying for tenure-track positions in Computer Science. My current research focus (and for the last year and a half in my postdoc) has been in “data science”, primarily applied to biology; my dissertation work was in computational biology. I don’t want to focus on the biology aspect; I see this research being more broadly applicable. I also have significant industry experience from before my PhD; I spent 6 years doing work that was very relevant to this field of data science (in finance and in global trade), and I’d like to tie that industry work into my research statement. What do you think about this? Some have told me I should just talk about my postdoctoral research, while others have said the industry experience, since it’s very relevant, makes me a stronger candidate and I should tie it and my dissertation work into my postdoc and future research.

What are your thoughts? Thanks!

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October 31, 2014 at 7:41 am

I am a young scholar in Communication. My research plan includes a description of past and current research projects (dissertation + 4 subsequent projects) and a description of short and long term projects (work in progress and three major research projects I want to undertake). I have been told this is not enough and I need more projects in my proposal. Only 2 pages for so many projects (including a detailed timeline) does not seem feasible.

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November 3, 2014 at 7:50 pm

Dear Dr. Karen, First, let me thank you for your website. I’ve been reading it carefully the past few weeks, and I’ve found it very informative and helpful. I’m in something of a unique situation, so I’m not sure how to best make use of your advice on the RS, which seems aimed at newly minted PhDs. I have been in my current position, teaching at a community college, since 1997. During this time, I completed my doctorate (awarded in 2008). I taught abroad on a Fulbright scholarship in 2010-11, and during that time revised and expanded my dissertation for publication (this included contextual updates and one complete new chapter). I was fortunate enough to get a contract, and the book appeared in 2012; the paperback is coming out this month. Given my experiences, I want to make the move to a 4-year institution, if possible (I realize the odds are slim). A few of the ads I’m looking at are asking for a research statement. So, how do I best handle my circumstance in the RS? The dissertation and book are largely the same. Where should I provide the detailed description of my project and the chapter summaries (as you’ve recommended)? How can I avoid redundancies? Your advice is appreciated.

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November 5, 2014 at 3:02 am

Dear Dr Karen,

I have read parts of your blog with great interest .. I need some advice.. if you have a research statement where one is combining two different streams of research, is this generally a good idea or would it be better to have a single stream? At the moment mine RS is nearly 4 pages (I have a short 3 page version of this).

Can you also give advice about an “academic plan” is this simply the 1-2 page “teaching statement”? Do yo have pointers/advice for this?

best regards,

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November 9, 2014 at 10:50 am

Greetings Dr. Karen, hope this message finds you well.

I am applying for my first post-doc fresh out of my PhD. But I also did a Master’s prior to my PhD which resulted in publications and a thesis. That being said, do you think I should add my Master’s research to my research statement? I planned on putting it just above my PhD research. Thanks a lot 🙂

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November 10, 2014 at 11:46 am

I’m wondering if it’s acceptable to mention personal qualities in an RS, such as being a collaborative worker or being able to acquire new skills rapidly (with concrete examples, that is). Normally I would put that in a cover letter, but it seems that cover letters are a thing of the past.

November 10, 2014 at 10:01 pm

No, that is not the place for that. Really, no part of the academic job application is the place for that.

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November 19, 2014 at 6:47 am

Dear Karen, a special question… how do your rules above changing when writing a research statement for someone who has 4+years of AP experience and tons of research after dissertation?

Yours and other suggestions seem to be from the point of view of a grad/post-grad. Need some good insight/advise on how to to tailor a description of your research that spans many different threads and is perhaps quite a bit different from your dissertation.

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November 26, 2014 at 9:51 pm

Dear Karen,

Thank you for this useful post. What about career goals? Does one mention those in the research statement or cover letter, if at all? For example, for NIH career development awards one has to write a one-page personal statement that includes career and research goals. The two are often aligned.

More specific, can /should one say things along the lines of: “My primary career goal is to become a successful independent investigator focused on xxx research.” or “I plan to secure a faculty position at a major university or research institute where I can engage in cutting edge research on xxx.”

Thank you for your insights.

Best regards,

November 27, 2014 at 9:19 am

This is more industry/business talk and not typical for academia. If you are articulating a complex research and teaching plan, it is UNDERSTOOD that you’re aiming for an academic career.

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November 30, 2014 at 9:58 am

Dear Prof Karen Greeting, hope this greeting finds you well I have read this blog with great interest…In my opinion, writing teaching and research statements are very difficult than writing a PhD research… For your info that I have finished my PhD research with 17 publications in 2 years and 4 months and since that time (2 years)still writing my research statement and not finish yet..

November 30, 2014 at 10:13 pm

Thank you for your reply! Leaving this out will save me a lot of space. Best regards

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January 14, 2015 at 11:17 am

I am applying for a grad program in engineering and the university requires me to write a research statement. I have no prior research experience nor have I thought about any topics for research. How do I approach this problem?

January 14, 2015 at 2:29 pm

I’m sorry, I don’t provide advice on applications to grad programs.

January 16, 2015 at 1:07 am

Okay, thank you.

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January 23, 2015 at 11:33 pm

Hi, can I cite a reference in statement of research interests for a postdoctoral position? If so, do I include the reference of the citation at the bottom of the page? Also, do I title my statement of research interests page as ” statement of research interests”? Thank you.

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February 4, 2015 at 10:18 am

I am applying for a 1 yr postdoc in the social science and humanities. The initial position is offered for one year with a possibility of renewal for up to one more year.

My plan is to use the postdoc opportunity to convert my dissertation into a book manuscript. I have a 2 yr plan which i believe is realistic. Roughly first yr review expand literature, reassess chapters, conduct addition interviews to build on insights. The second year would be analysis of data and writing and revising. How do I reduce this to a yr? Or do I propose it as a two yr endeavor?

February 5, 2015 at 9:39 am

to be blunt, you should skip the expanding of the literature, the reassessing, and the additional interviews. Things like this are what delay books. Transform your diss into a book mss with a one-year writing plan, and submit it for publication by the end of that year. Early in the year (or before you arrive) you send out proposals for advance contracts. This is what makes for a competitive postdoc app.

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February 27, 2015 at 9:31 am

Thanks for your post. I am writing my RS with your comments as my reference. However, I have some concerns and wish you could offer some suggestions.

You mentioned that when writing RS, we should 1) Do not waste precious document real estate on what other scholars have NOT done. Never go negative. Stay entirely in the realm of what you did, not what others didn’t; and 2) Do not position yourself as “extending” or “adding to” or “building off of” or “continuing” or “applying” other work, either your own or others.

My doctoral thesis is to theoretically extend a theoretical model and empirically test it, which implies that the developer of the original model missed something to consider and I help do it. But if I take (1) and (2) into account. I may not be able to describe the rationale of my dissertation and further show the contribution.

In addition, (part of) my future directions is to increase the generalizability of the extended model, which means that I may apply it to my future research; and to discuss a potential issue in the extended model. However, if I take (2) into account, it seems that I cannot address it in the RS. Interesting enough, I found a number of model developers applied their developed theoretical models throughout the year with different research focuses and to validate the model. Should not such a way recommended to be addressed in the RS? Just a bit confused.

Would you please kindly help with the above? Thanks a lot.

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March 4, 2015 at 2:16 pm

I am in public health and am a generalist so I have conduct research on a wide variety of topics. My masters thesis was on cesarean delivery guidelines and my dissertation is on the effect of legislation that bans certain breeds of dogs. I don’t want to pigeon hole myself into a specific topic area, but also don’t want to seem scattered. My research is all related, because it is on health systems or health policy, so I am trying to unify my RS with the theme of research that improves population health. Would you suggest that I list only my dissertation work and a future project that aligns with that, or should I also list my masters work and/or a separate project on a maternal and child theme?

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March 11, 2015 at 6:19 pm

With regard to your recommendation to leave names of others out of the research statement, I am struggling with what to do for an edited volume with some *very* prominent contributors. I am the sole editor for the book, and I brought these contributors together. Should their names still be excluded from the research statement, or perhaps included elsewhere (perhaps in the cover letter or CV)?

Thank you for your very helpful postings.

March 12, 2015 at 7:20 pm

I find that many people overestimate the importance/prominence of the names and their value for any job doc. But if they include, like, Judith Butler and her ilk, then sure mention 1-2 such names in the RS.

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July 7, 2015 at 12:51 pm

When applying for a faculty position (first job as assistant professor), would you recommend sharing the link of the applicant’s PhD dissertation thesis (if it is available online), if so where exactly?

Thank you very much for all the valuable information!

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July 22, 2015 at 12:08 pm

Dear Karen –

I have a question for those out there encountering job openings for technical staff (like myself) with BS degrees requesting research statements. How do I write a RS based on this? Everything I’ve seen online has been geared towards RS for graduate programs or for those with newly minted PhDs.

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August 14, 2015 at 6:19 pm

Dear Karen, Is there a difference between a “one page Research Plan” and a “Research Statement” ? Thank you for your generous advice through this blog.

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August 29, 2015 at 8:39 pm

Thank you for the helpful posts. I am a postdoc applying for faculty positions, and they all ask something similar but different. It’s either a research statement, a statement of research interests, or a research plan. Do mean my previous research experience, what I plan to do, or both? A research statement sounds like a research summary, but I feel like I’m missing something. I appreciate any clarity you can bring on the subject.

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September 2, 2015 at 9:22 am

Dear Dr. Karen, Some of the postdocs require to submit a C.V. and a list of publications. Does it mean that, for these particular applications, the C.V. should not include publications at all? Thanks!

September 2, 2015 at 9:49 pm

Sorry, just realized that had a wrong tab opened while typing the question.

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September 24, 2015 at 10:01 pm

Hi Karen, This is a very helpful website indeed. I’ve been teaching university for 5 years (ever since finishing my PhD), and now am at a top 10 university (at least according to the QS rankings, if you put any stock in them). However, I’m applying for what I think is a better job for me at a research museum, one that would have me doing research and supervising grad students as well as doing outreach (something I’ve got piles of experience with). The application asks for a 2-page statement of scientific goals. I’m a little unclear as to how this differs from the research statement. Does it? If so, how? Thanks so much.

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October 13, 2015 at 7:09 am

This was really helpful in writing a research statement. Thanks

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November 11, 2015 at 1:17 pm

I see that some applications require a vision statement: “no longer than two pages, that outlines one or more major unsolved problems in their field and how they plan to address them.”. Any thoughts about the differences from a research statement?

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January 14, 2016 at 7:28 am

How long should the research statement be if it has been requested as part of the cover letter?

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May 20, 2016 at 8:24 am

Thank you very much for the very helpful advice, Karen!

I’m a final year PhD in psychology and applying for a postdoc now. The postdoc project seems very prescribed, to the extent that the announcement includes how many studies are planned to be conducted, what the broad hypotheses are and the broad theoretical background. Yet, the application involves an RS. What is the best way to frame a future research project here? Just tailor my diss to fit into the proposed postdoc topic?

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July 1, 2016 at 3:10 pm

The place in this blog that should contain the 5-paragraph model doesn’t seem to be present. Instead I get a […]. Possibly a web configuration problem?

July 7, 2016 at 4:58 pm

Please read the para at the top of the post. This and a handful of other posts (about 5 in total) have been shortened so as not to overlap with the content of my book.

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August 15, 2016 at 7:43 am

Thank you so much for your wonderful advice.

I have a question regarding the relationship between future research and the title of the position in question and how much overlap there should be between the two. Is it acceptable to propose research that is (this is history-based) from a slightly later/earlier period, or a slightly different geographical region than the position focuses on? Or is it better to align oneself entirely with the constraints of the position?

Many thanks!

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August 23, 2016 at 9:46 am

I plan to limit my RS to two pages, but my career trajectory and publication record is a bit unusual. I’m a nationally regarded thirty-three year veteran high school teacher and recent postdoc (2013) from a top tier history department. I’ve been teaching alma mater’s most popular summer session course since 2014. It’s my mentor’s course, but he’ll be replaced with a tenured professor with an endowed chair upon retirement – as well he should. Cornell Press is “interested” in my diss, but…I’m currently revising the original proposal. I’ve also published as often in International Journal of Eating Disorders, Psychology of Women Quarterly and International of Alzheimer’s & Other Dementias as I have in The Journal of Urban History, Long Island Historical Journal and New York Irish History. I teach “the best and the brightest” at a socioeconomically and ethnically diverse public high school. I often publish with my adolescent students, so my scholarship is pretty eclectic. How, exactly, do I sell that to a hiring committee upon retirement from high school/transition to university teaching in June 2017?

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September 12, 2016 at 6:29 pm

What is your take on using headings to organize the RS?

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October 16, 2016 at 12:28 pm

I am up for tenure this year, and am applying for a tenured position at another school (mainly because I am trying to resolve a two-body problem). Given that I have been out of grad school for quite a while, have a book and many papers published, another book in progress, etc, should my tenure statement be longer than 1-2 pages? What would be a typical length for a mid-career statement?

October 17, 2016 at 1:14 pm

You can go onto a third page, if you’re on a second book.

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October 19, 2016 at 4:08 pm

Hi Karen, I’m applying for tenure track jobs in English, and some applications ask for a research statement instead of a dissertation abstract, which is the more common of the two. I’ve been told that even if a dissertation abstract isn’t asked for, I should send one in with my application materials. If I’m asked for a research statement, do I still have to send a dissertation abstract as well? I’m a little worried about some overlap between the two (the obvious repetitions in contribution to the field, etc).

October 29, 2016 at 8:09 pm

I am being asked for a Scholarly Philosophy. Is this the same as a research statement? Are their any nuances of difference that I ought to attend to?

November 2, 2016 at 11:40 am

I’ve actuallynever heard that term. But I’d say it’s about the same as an RS, but perhaps with a bit more focus on wider contribution to the field.

' src=

November 8, 2016 at 10:55 am

Hello Karen,

I am a biologist on the market for a TT position (for more years than I would like to admit). I have always wondered whether including 1-2 figures or diagrams that help to illustrate your research plan would be helpful, and maybe even appreciated. I would like to know what you think.

We all know how overburdened search committees are. Pictures might help. Scientists are used to seeing such images in evaluating fellowship applications or grant proposals, why not research statements? I would think it would be a welcome change. So the potential benefit is you stand out and are more memorable, but you may also run the risk of alienating or offending someone, especially because this is uncommon.

Thanks for your posts and your book. I enjoy reading them.

November 10, 2016 at 9:53 am

Yes, in the sciences, diagrams are acceptable. It’s why science RSs are often 3-4 pages long. NOT in your cover letter of course.

' src=

January 12, 2017 at 11:56 am

Is it appropriate to put a date at the top or bottom of your statements?

' src=

August 4, 2017 at 5:32 am

I have been working as a fellow at a SLAC in the sciences and am directing undergraduate research that does not completely fit the mold of my usual work. Is it acceptable to mention these projects in the RS? Should I only mention ones that we will be trying to publish? Thanks

' src=

September 16, 2017 at 3:16 pm

Found some adjuncting this year after basically taking a year off last year. During that time, I was still working on getting material published from graduate school. This includes an article based on my dissertation. That articles is currently going through a revise and resubmit. The revise involves reframing and changing the names of important hypotheses. Do I discuss the work in my RS as it was discussed in my dissertation or talk about it as presented in this article yet to be expected for publication?

September 16, 2017 at 3:17 pm

accepted not expected

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September 29, 2017 at 3:43 am

The part about not presenting your work as being better than other peoples’ is hard because constantly in your thesis you are setting up arguments like that! This is why my findings are interesting – because they are better than what other people did/found previously. The old paradigm was limited/wrong, hence my contribution is new/better. That is part of the academic writing genre! But I can see it will come across as much more mature if you downplay that in an application letter.

' src=

October 7, 2017 at 12:00 pm

Thanks for this great blog and the book!

I’m applying for a two-year postdoc. They say they want a “research statement,” but I really think they mean a proposal. This is short term, non-TT. I feel like the advice you give about “timeline, timeline, timeline!” is what will make this work better for this application.

Said otherwise, there is no time for a second project in this postdoc (or maybe you beg to differ?) Therefore it seems odd to talk about it.

October 7, 2017 at 2:11 pm

correct, they want a research proposal. Please read the chapters about that in my book. There is time in a two year postdoc to begin to launch a second project.

' src=

January 12, 2018 at 1:08 pm

I am just starting my higher education career. I only have my dissertation as published work. How do you suggest I handle to writing of my research statement given those circumstances?

' src=

August 27, 2019 at 6:26 am

Hi, I am a fresh PhD about to apply for my first job. I’ve been asked to write a scholarly agenda and am struggling to find what should be included in this. Any help would be great. The position is at a liberal arts college for a tenure track position in the biology department. Thanks

August 27, 2019 at 9:56 am

That would be the RS, and this blog post is about that. Also, check my book out, it has a chapter on this as well, updated from this post. If you need personal help, contact us at [email protected] to get on the calendar for editing help.

' src=

September 17, 2019 at 9:22 pm

Thank you for your excellent blog and book. I’m applying for a TT job where they don’t ask for a cover letter, but for a combined statement on research & teaching max 3p. In this case, do I still skip the letterhead and formal address? And what structure/format would you suggest?

Thank you in advance!

September 18, 2019 at 5:00 pm

if it’s truly not meant to be a letter, then don’t make it a letter! Just send a two page Rs and a one page TS nicely integrated into a single doc, with your name at the top.

' src=

December 23, 2019 at 6:23 am

Dear Karen, thank you for your wonderful advice here and in the book.I wonder regarding the the 1st para of the research statement. I have seen that many start by stating “I am a historian of X. My work focuses on Y in order to Z …

Is this what you mean by “A brief paragraph sketching the overarching theme and topic of your research,situating it disciplinarily”? would love to see an example of a good 1st para…

December 23, 2019 at 11:12 am

Lili, I provide examples to clients, so if you’d like to work with me, do email at [email protected] !

' src=

January 13, 2020 at 4:39 pm

I am just graduating as an undergrad and looking for entry-level research. Should I put something short on my interests if I do not have research experience, or is this section better to be left blank?

' src=

October 12, 2020 at 10:49 pm

Any differences with corona? I have two small ongoing projects related to covid. Other than that, I only have my thesis. Would mentioning these two projects be ‘too much’? They are not similar to each other: one has a clear logical link to my thesis, while the other is a new avenue that I want to pursue. They are not big enough to be my second project, but they are my current research. Should I mention them both? One? None?

' src=

January 6, 2022 at 11:51 am

Thank you for such detailed information! I searched on your site today in attempt to answer the question “what is a scholarly agenda,” and was pointed to this posting, which doesn’t seem correct, but I at least wanted to ask the question. Is the scholarly agenda a typical piece of writing for tenure processes? I’m about to go up for my three year review in a humanities-based tenure track position, where I am asked for one, and although I’ve written a draft, the university has no template, and in truth, I really don’t understand the aim of the scholarly agenda beyond the general idea of ‘where I want to be as a scholar and professor in three years.’ I’m looking for a blow-by-blow / paragraph-by-paragraph idea of how to structure the piece. I can’t find examples beyond law schools, which isn’t so helpful. Do you have any recommendations?

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Research proposal - template

Template for research proposals in connection with applications for a position as postdoc, PhD candidate or researcher

All research proposals must be based on this template. Research proposals must not exceed 14,000 characters including spaces.

Applications with a research proposal longer than 14,000 characters will not be considered.  

Title of the project

  • Main objective and summary of the project (Present the main objective of your project and a brief summary, explaining how you intend to attain this goal. The purpose is to give the reader sufficient information to decide whether the project is of interest.)
  • Background to the project (Provide a brief account of the existing knowledge in the field the project is part of and show how the project will contribute to new knowledge. Explain how your project is relevant to the research at the Faculty of Humanities – for individual researchers, research groups or projects.)
  • Theoretical framework (Outline the theoretical foundation of the project and the reasons you have chosen this particular foundation.)
  • Research question(s) and expected findings (hypothesis) (Describe the question(s) you want to answer through your project, and briefly outline what answer(s) you expect to find on the basis of previous research and theoretical background. Your research questions and hypotheses should focus and delimit the topic.)
  • Methods and research ethics (Give an account of the methodological foundation for your project. Discuss any research-ethical problems linked to the project with reference to the Guidelines for Research Ethics in the Social Sciences and the Humanities . Describe the underlying data and source material that will be used and how these will be collected and analysed)
  • Proposed dissemination (Outline your proposed outputs: your plans for communicating / publishing your project – articles, monographs, lectures, etc.)
  • Progress plan (Outline briefly how you intend to organise your work over the duration of the project, including any planned or anticipated periods of study/as a guest researcher outside the University of Oslo and/or field work. For PhD: We do not expect you to know about individual courses, seminars, etc. that will be included in the training component.)

Total: no more than 14,000 characters (including spaces). It is up to you to decide how they are distributed among the different sections of the research proposal. In addition, your research proposal may also include:

  • Literature references (max 3,000 characters) (The reference list must be sorted alphabetically by author.)

To count the number of characters in a text in MS Word, go to Review, and select Word Count. 14,000 characters with spaces is just under five pages of text written in Times, 12 point type, with one and a half line spacing.

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Autonomous Systems Developer

Categories: Hybrid, Information Technology

Department: RIAS

  • Grand Forks, North Dakota, United States
  • Temporary Staff
  • Closing on: Jul 3 2024

Salary/Position Classification

  • $20.00 Hourly, Non-Exempt (Eligible for overtime)
  • 32-40 hours per week
  • 100% Remote Work Availability: No
  • Hybrid Work Availability: Yes

Purpose of Position

This Autonomous Systems Developer will perform work on research projects involving various autonomous systems software and hardware, assist with writing reports and tracking and documenting progress, and help with writing new proposals for research grants (as appropriate). This position will have a software focus that may include machine learning.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Develop simulation models and test algorithms related to autonomous systems
  • Develop and test machine learning models to detect and follow objects
  • Integrate, test, and deploy hardware/tech/tools related to autonomous systems
  • Write reports throughout the various projects and track and document all work
  • Help write new proposals for research grants. 

Required Competencies

  • Strong verbal and written communication skills.
  • Strong organizational skills.
  • Excellent attention to detail.
  • Able to work independently and in a team environment.

Minimum Requirements

  • 2-years experience in computer programming (e.g., Python, C++).
  • 2-years experience or training with hardware/electronics.
  • Export Control Compliance: This position requires compliance with U.S. government export control laws and regulations. Applicants are required to be eligible for employment under U.S. export control laws and must meet the requirements of being a "U.S. Person" (U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident, or protected individual as defined by 8 U.S.C.1324b (a)(3)). UND will not sponsor applicants for employment authorization for this position. Information collected in this regard will only be used to ensure compliance with U.S. export control laws and will be used in compliance with all laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of national origin and other factors.
  • Successful completion of a Criminal History Background Check

In compliance with federal law, all persons hired will be required to verify identity and eligibility to work in the US and to complete the required employment eligibility verification form upon hire.  This position does not support visa sponsorship for continued employment.

Preferred Qualifications

  • 3+ years experience in computer programming
  • 3+ years experience or training with hardware/electronics.

Submit resume (required) detailing how you meet the requirements. A cover letter or CV is not required but is preferred.

Please note, all employment postings close at 11:55pm CST. Part-time/Temporary positions are posted for a minimum of 3 business days.

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Using grant proposal for applying to faculty position

My grant application for independent research as a PostDoc got recently funded in Germany (the position started at the beginning of this year). This grant required me to choose host labs to work at. I had written the proposal by myself, with inputs from the host professors in Germany regarding the language and phrasing.

Concurrently, I have also started to apply for faculty positions in different countries. The institute at the very top of my list asks specifically for a research proposal which will play a key role in the selection process.

Since the PostDoc grant proposal is filled with many unsolved and interesting problems from my research career (in Mathematics), I would like to reuse it for my faculty application as well.

I have a few questions regarding this:

(1) What is the code of conduct around such a situation where I want to reuse the grant proposal in a faculty-position research proposal? I have never been in this situation, and I am completely unsure of how to proceed.

(2) If I am allowed to reuse the material from the grant proposal, how closely can I use it in the faculty proposal? A lot of thought and time was invested into the phrasing of the original grant, and it very concisely written. If possible, I would like to stay close to the original phrasing.

Of course, the faculty proposal will several new problems as well. Maybe, this question has an obvious answer, in which case I apologise for it. Any ideas/thoughts are very welcome.

  • faculty-application

UPS's user avatar

  • I'm not sure what you mean by "reuse the material". What material? Is it just what you write in the application, or something else? –  Buffy Commented Apr 6, 2021 at 12:19
  • Reuse the material from the postdoc grant proposal in the research proposal required for the faculty application. Hopefully the edits clarify this. –  UPS Commented Apr 6, 2021 at 12:21

Unless there is something tricky that I can't see, there should be no problem, though I'd suggest some rewording, just to make things clear.

For example, the grant covers "work in progress" perhaps, rather than "work to be done".

But the important thing is to be clear in the faculty application about what is past, present, and proposed for the future. I think you will be in a strong position if your "Statement of Purpose" is a continuation of a research program that is already in progress and has seen some results.

I think that the rewording, rather than just copying, would make it stronger.

I hope I'm not missing something.

Buffy's user avatar

  • Thanks a lot @Buffy. I will use the phrase 'work in progress', wherever it applies. –  UPS Commented Apr 6, 2021 at 12:38

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how to write a research proposal for faculty position application

International Programs

Dawn Thomas teaching students in Spain

Fulbright recipient Dawn Thomas reflects on her impactful work teaching English and art in Spain

student in gray jacket

Dawn Thomas (MAT secondary English education ‘23) was awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship for 2023-24. Originally set to embark on her teaching journey in Israel, unforeseen circumstances led to the cancellation of her assignment. She is now serving as an English language assistant and English art assistant for students ranging from 3 years old through those in sixth grade, who speak Spanish and Gallego, in Galicia, Spain. After finishing her Fulbright tenure and returning to the U.S., Thomas will start a new position in the English Department at Iowa City High School, where she will teach three world literature classes and two African American literature classes. Learn more about her reflections on her Fulbright experience through the Q&A piece below.   

Can you give us a brief overview of your Fulbright experience?

My Fulbright program initially began online with my original host institution in Haifa, Israel. During this period, I collaborated with the English Department at the Arab Academic College for Education to develop a six-day unit on African American literature, poetry, and music for Arab Israeli teaching students.

Since arriving in Spain, I have:

  • Led multiple daily classes focusing on English language grammar and structure.
  • Designed and taught a multi-style self-portrait art project.
  • Created and led a cultural art activity that resulted in a school-wide collection of "stones of remembrance."
  • Conducted an art activity centered on the life and work of Elizabeth Catlett.
  • Facilitated small-group English language lessons and evaluations with each first and second -grade student.
  • Hosted an "African American Read-In" in Spain as part of the National Council for Teachers of English's annual event. During this event, I read "Susie Clark: The Bravest Girl You've Ever Seen" to all first through sixth grade students over three days. The readings included an activity where students planted okra seeds, an important heritage reference from the book.
  • Delivered a presentation about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on my first day of school, which coincided with Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the U.S. My bilingual coordinator assigned all sixth grade students to create a biography about him, and I had the opportunity to review and evaluate each one.
  • Designed a three-episode Harlem Renaissance podcast as a required "side project," featuring six students—two from each of the fourth, fifth, and sixth grades. Our final podcast recording will take place on the last day of my Fulbright program. 

How has your Fulbright experience influenced you personally and professionally?

This experience has, more than anything else, provided me with the confidence to exist and engage with globally diverse groups of people. It has furthered my understanding and beliefs about how language works and is used in various power structures and defined cultures. It has helped me to appreciate immigrant student experiences in the U.S. I believe this experience will become invaluable to me as a new teacher in the Iowa City community. 

What advice do you have for future students interested in applying for a Fulbright?  

My advice for future Fulbrighters is to prepare to stick with the application process; believe that if you receive an award, you absolutely deserve one is doing you a favor; and finally, this experience is, more than anything else you will probably experience, what you make of it. No one, not Fulbright, not the U.S. Department of State, not your peers or parents can make this experience into the dream you have for yourself. YOU have to make it happen, so let go of all expectations and start creating your journey. 


International Programs  (IP) at the University of Iowa (UI) is committed to enriching the global experience of UI students, faculty, staff, and the general public by leading efforts to promote internationally oriented teaching, research, creative work, and community engagement.  IP provides support for international students and scholars, administers scholarships and assistance for students who study, intern, or do research abroad, and provides funding opportunities and grant-writing assistance for faculty engaged in international research. IP shares their stories through various media, and by hosting multiple public engagement activities each year.  

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International Programs at the University of Iowa supports the right of all individuals to live freely and to live in peace. We condemn all acts of violence based on race, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, and perceived national or cultural origin. In affirming its commitment to human dignity, International Programs strongly upholds the values expressed in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights .  


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  1. Research statements for faculty job applications

    Step 4: The research statement is typically a few (2-3) pages in length, depending on the number of images, illustrations, or graphs included. Once you have completed the steps above, schedule an appointment with a career advisor to get feedback on your draft. You should also try to get faculty in your department to review your document if they ...

  2. Application Materials for Faculty Positions

    Welcome to our collection of sample materials for faculty positions and guidance on how to write your own! It is to your advantage to create a document that stands out from your fellow applicants. To create an application package that highlights your unique skills and experiences, watch our short video series Applying For Faculty Positions, use ...

  3. How to Write a Research Statement for Faculty Position Applications

    Describe step-by-step how to write each of the 4 core components (with exemplars) List the 4 additional components sometimes found in Research Statement prompts and explain how to prepare them. Identify 10 key buzzwords to include in your Research Statement as well as 8 terms to avoid. Navigate the 5 most common mistakes made when writing a ...

  4. How to Construct a Compelling Research Statement

    More Advice on Faculty Job Application Documents on ImPACKful. How to write a better academic cover letter. Tips on writing an effective teaching statement . More Resources. See here for samples of a variety of application materials from UCSF. Rules of the (Social Sciences & Humanities) Research Statement; CMU's Writing a Research Statement

  5. Faculty Application: Research Statement : EECS Communication Lab

    In EECS, faculty research statements focus on past/current work. However, it is important to also include your vision for the future, which should build on your previous work. This statement should convince the committee that your future work is important, relevant, and feasible. The future work section should go beyond direct extensions of ...

  6. How to Write a Research statement for Faculty Position?

    Here we discuss 5 simple tips for writing a good research statement: 1. Make Your Research Statement Reader-Friendly. As stated earlier, a faculty position may easily receive over a couple of hundred applications. Consequently, the search committee may just glance through some applications.

  7. Application Materials for a Faculty Job Search

    3) Research Statement: A summary of your past research accomplishments, and a proposal for your future research plan as a faculty member. Include both your long-term vision, as well as concrete projects for your research group for the first 3-5 years. Length varies, but typically 3-6 pages. See more advice on writing research statements.

  8. Writing the Research Plan for Your Academic Job Application

    Good science, written well, makes a good research plan. As you craft and refine your research plan, keep the following strategies, as well as your audience in mind: Begin the document with an abstract or executive summary that engages a broad audience and shows synergies among your projects. This should be one page or less, and you should ...

  9. PDF Developing a Winning Research Statement

    2. Toot your own horn. Make sure to convey what will make you successful in your next endeavors. Some examples: your cutting edge approach, your unique insight or technological know-how, your success in previous projects, etc. 3. Don't write it like a grant proposal.

  10. Writing the Research Plan for Your Academic Job Application

    If her goal and plan of execution intrigues the audience, she will become a standout candidate.) Determine the length of your plan: The recommended length for a research plan is ten pages. Additionally, you should have a proposal that is 3-5 pages long, which would serve as a summary of your roles and responsibilities if/when hired.

  11. Research Statement : Graduate School

    The research statement (or statement of research interests) is a common component of academic job applications. It is a summary of your research accomplishments, current work, and future direction and potential of your work. The statement can discuss specific issues such as: The research statement should be technical, but should be intelligible ...

  12. Writing a Good Research Statement for a Faculty Position

    Task #2: Communicate a Section. The first paragraph (introduction) reads as follows: a broad phrase or two describing your study subject; a thesis statement stating your perspective (e.g., my research is significant); and. a report summarises your three bodies of evidence concisely (e.g., my research is necessary because a, b, and c).

  13. Graduate School Applications: Writing a Research Statement

    The research statement is a common component of a potential candidate's application for post-undergraduate study. This may include applications for graduate programs, post-doctoral fellowships, or faculty positions. The research statement is often the primary way that a committee determines if a candidate's interests and past experience make them a good fit for their program/institution.

  14. Research plan for a first-time faculty application

    You only get about 40% of your time allocated to research as faculty in the UK. So, the actual goal of the presentation was to say stuff like: "for research idea A, I will aim to fund it from the agency B, which will allow me to hire a postdoctoral researcher for X years to work on A". Consequently, the research plan takes a much different ...

  15. Preparing a research statement for an academic job application

    This is not my first blog post on research statements (this one on research statements and research trajectories and this other on research pipelines, research trajectories and research programmes are quite related), but this is perhaps the first time I write about and address the Research Statement as a key component of job applications for tenure-track or post-doctoral positions.

  16. Research Statement : Office of Postdoctoral Studies

    A common component of the academic job application is the Research Statement (or Statement of Research Interests). This statement provides a summary of your research accomplishments and current work and discusses the future direction and potential of your work. The statement can discuss specific issues such as funding history and potential ...

  17. Dr. Karen's Rules of the Research Statement

    No: a Research Proposal is intended as a pitch for a specific project, or the research programme you will undertake within a specific timeframe (such as a PhD or a post-doc). A Research Statement is used for applications for jobs and occasionally fellowships, and outlines the research you have *already* completed, and what you plan to pursue next.

  18. (PDF) Sample Application Materials for Faculty Positions

    [email protected]. Abstract. The purpose of this document is to provide faculty applicants with a general idea about the materials. required for most faculty position applications. By no ...

  19. Research proposal

    Template for research proposals in connection with applications for a position as postdoc, PhD candidate or researcher. All research proposals must be based on this template. Research proposals must not exceed 14,000 characters including spaces. Applications with a research proposal longer than 14,000 characters will not be considered.

  20. "Research Statement" vs. "Research Plan" for assistant professor

    I'm putting together applications for assistant professor positions and some ask for a research statement whereas others ask for a research plan (still others, although a rarity, ask for neither). It appears there is much more advice online for writing research statements for faculty applications than for writing research plans.

  21. What should research funders ask for in grant applications?

    The research, commissioned in 2018 by the Dutch Research Council (NWO), looked at decision-making in the first round of an early-career award. At the time, applicants typically submitted a CV and a 4000-word research proposal to the awarding panel. For the experiment, a shadow panel looked at applications alongside the real panel.

  22. Autonomous Systems Developer

    Purpose of Position. This Autonomous Systems Developer will perform work on research projects involving various autonomous systems software and hardware, assist with writing reports and tracking and documenting progress, and help with writing new proposals for research grants (as appropriate). This position will have a software focus that may ...

  23. Using grant proposal for applying to faculty position

    1. My grant application for independent research as a PostDoc got recently funded in Germany (the position started at the beginning of this year). This grant required me to choose host labs to work at. I had written the proposal by myself, with inputs from the host professors in Germany regarding the language and phrasing.

  24. Fulbright recipient Dawn Thomas reflects on her impactful work teaching

    Dawn Thomas (MAT secondary English education '23) was awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship for 2023-24. Originally set to embark on her teaching journey in Israel, unforeseen circumstances led to the cancellation of her assignment. She is now serving as an English language assistant and English art assistant for students ranging from 3 years old through those in sixth grade ...