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Cheryl E. Ball explains the various ways job candidates in humanities fields are asked to describe what they study -- and why these descriptions are important.

As I mentioned in my last column, you will likely be asked to talk about your dissertation in some fashion (e.g., tell us about your research ) during job interviews, and the basis for many search committees understanding of your dissertation research will come from the dissertation paragraph you provide in your cover letter. This paragraph is a very brief abstract of your entire dissertation, and includes your:

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue ( When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice at bottom.

Summary:

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.

In the first stages of writing, thesis or purpose statements are usually rough or ill-formed and are useful primarily as planning tools.

A thesis statement or purpose statement will emerge as you think and write about a topic. The statement can be restricted or clarified and eventually worked into an introduction.

Cheryl E. Ball explains the various ways job candidates in humanities fields are asked to describe what they study -- and why these descriptions are important.

As I mentioned in my last column, you will likely be asked to talk about your dissertation in some fashion (e.g., tell us about your research ) during job interviews, and the basis for many search committees understanding of your dissertation research will come from the dissertation paragraph you provide in your cover letter. This paragraph is a very brief abstract of your entire dissertation, and includes your:

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue ( When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice at bottom.

Summary:

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.

In the first stages of writing, thesis or purpose statements are usually rough or ill-formed and are useful primarily as planning tools.

A thesis statement or purpose statement will emerge as you think and write about a topic. The statement can be restricted or clarified and eventually worked into an introduction.

Introduction
Employers may use the terms “statement,” “summary,” or “proposal” interchangeably. The word “summary” suggests a focus on current research. A “ statement” would include your current as well as your future research agenda. It tells a search committee about your areas of specialty, your academic knowledge and writing ability, your fit with department faculty expertise and institutional goals, and your potential to make a contribution to your sub-field and/or to win grants.

Engineering (3)
Active Control of Rotorcraft Vibration
I am currently working with Boeing Helicopters to develop advanced control techniques for control of rotorcraft vibration, so that the vibration typically experienced by helicopters can be significantly reduced. My advisor Prof. XYZ and his former doctoral students developed the X-frame actuator for those purposes, and I am working on the design and implementation of the advanced Higher Harmonic Control (HHC) algorithms using ….will be flight-tested in 2002.

If you're in the market for an academic job, chances are that you'll have to submit a research statement of some sort. These critters offer you the chance to distill your life's work and dreams into a short essay that can only hurt your chances of employment. Since you probably just finished your thesis where length is a virtue writing this statement can be daunting. While examples of research papers abound, there are relatively few research statements on the web. None of those were peer reviewed. Most of them were written by fresh Ph.D.s who found themselves in exactly your position.

To help you out, I'm going to describe a fairly specific structure to follow. This may or may not fit your situation, and it may not generalize beyond computer-related research. I developed the structure out of need by analyzing statements from people who (a) have jobs and (b) work in my general field. Recently IEEE Intelligent Systems ran the feature "AI's 10 to Watch" where each person provided a 5 to 10 paragraph research statement suited for a relatively general audience. These vary in quality and message, but more importantly they have commonalities that one can distill.

Cheryl E. Ball explains the various ways job candidates in humanities fields are asked to describe what they study -- and why these descriptions are important.

As I mentioned in my last column, you will likely be asked to talk about your dissertation in some fashion (e.g., tell us about your research ) during job interviews, and the basis for many search committees understanding of your dissertation research will come from the dissertation paragraph you provide in your cover letter. This paragraph is a very brief abstract of your entire dissertation, and includes your:

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue ( When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice at bottom.

Summary:

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.

In the first stages of writing, thesis or purpose statements are usually rough or ill-formed and are useful primarily as planning tools.

A thesis statement or purpose statement will emerge as you think and write about a topic. The statement can be restricted or clarified and eventually worked into an introduction.

Introduction
Employers may use the terms “statement,” “summary,” or “proposal” interchangeably. The word “summary” suggests a focus on current research. A “ statement” would include your current as well as your future research agenda. It tells a search committee about your areas of specialty, your academic knowledge and writing ability, your fit with department faculty expertise and institutional goals, and your potential to make a contribution to your sub-field and/or to win grants.

Engineering (3)
Active Control of Rotorcraft Vibration
I am currently working with Boeing Helicopters to develop advanced control techniques for control of rotorcraft vibration, so that the vibration typically experienced by helicopters can be significantly reduced. My advisor Prof. XYZ and his former doctoral students developed the X-frame actuator for those purposes, and I am working on the design and implementation of the advanced Higher Harmonic Control (HHC) algorithms using ….will be flight-tested in 2002.

If you''''''''''''''''re in the market for an academic job, chances are that you''''''''''''''''ll have to submit a research statement of some sort. These critters offer you the chance to distill your life''''''''''''''''s work and dreams into a short essay that can only hurt your chances of employment. Since you probably just finished your thesis where length is a virtue writing this statement can be daunting. While examples of research papers abound, there are relatively few research statements on the web. None of those were peer reviewed. Most of them were written by fresh Ph.D.s who found themselves in exactly your position.

To help you out, I''''''''''''''''m going to describe a fairly specific structure to follow. This may or may not fit your situation, and it may not generalize beyond computer-related research. I developed the structure out of need by analyzing statements from people who (a) have jobs and (b) work in my general field. Recently IEEE Intelligent Systems ran the feature "AI''''''''''''''''s 10 to Watch" where each person provided a 5 to 10 paragraph research statement suited for a relatively general audience. These vary in quality and message, but more importantly they have commonalities that one can distill.

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue ( When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice at bottom.

Summary:

This resource provides tips for creating a thesis statement and examples of different types of thesis statements.

Treating your research statement as though it’s a narrated walk through your vita does let you describe each of your projects (or publications). But the format is boring, and the statement doesn’t tell us much more than if we had the abstracts of each of your papers. Most problematic, treating your research statement as though it’s a narrated walk through your vita misses the primary purpose of the research statement, which is to make a persuasive case about the importance of your completed work and the excitement of your future trajectory.

Writing a persuasive case about your research means setting the stage for why the questions you are investigating are important. Writing a persuasive case about your research means engaging your audience so that they want to learn more about the answers you are discovering. How do you do that? You do that by crafting a coherent story.

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 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.

Although this list suggests that there is a simple, linear process to writing such a paper, the actual process of writing a research paper is often a messy and recursive one, so please use this outline as a flexible guide.

Cheryl E. Ball explains the various ways job candidates in humanities fields are asked to describe what they study -- and why these descriptions are important.

As I mentioned in my last column, you will likely be asked to talk about your dissertation in some fashion (e.g., tell us about your research ) during job interviews, and the basis for many search committees understanding of your dissertation research will come from the dissertation paragraph you provide in your cover letter. This paragraph is a very brief abstract of your entire dissertation, and includes your:

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue ( When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice at bottom.

Summary:

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.

In the first stages of writing, thesis or purpose statements are usually rough or ill-formed and are useful primarily as planning tools.

A thesis statement or purpose statement will emerge as you think and write about a topic. The statement can be restricted or clarified and eventually worked into an introduction.

Introduction
Employers may use the terms “statement,” “summary,” or “proposal” interchangeably. The word “summary” suggests a focus on current research. A “ statement” would include your current as well as your future research agenda. It tells a search committee about your areas of specialty, your academic knowledge and writing ability, your fit with department faculty expertise and institutional goals, and your potential to make a contribution to your sub-field and/or to win grants.

Engineering (3)
Active Control of Rotorcraft Vibration
I am currently working with Boeing Helicopters to develop advanced control techniques for control of rotorcraft vibration, so that the vibration typically experienced by helicopters can be significantly reduced. My advisor Prof. XYZ and his former doctoral students developed the X-frame actuator for those purposes, and I am working on the design and implementation of the advanced Higher Harmonic Control (HHC) algorithms using ….will be flight-tested in 2002.

If you''re in the market for an academic job, chances are that you''ll have to submit a research statement of some sort. These critters offer you the chance to distill your life''s work and dreams into a short essay that can only hurt your chances of employment. Since you probably just finished your thesis where length is a virtue writing this statement can be daunting. While examples of research papers abound, there are relatively few research statements on the web. None of those were peer reviewed. Most of them were written by fresh Ph.D.s who found themselves in exactly your position.

To help you out, I''m going to describe a fairly specific structure to follow. This may or may not fit your situation, and it may not generalize beyond computer-related research. I developed the structure out of need by analyzing statements from people who (a) have jobs and (b) work in my general field. Recently IEEE Intelligent Systems ran the feature "AI''s 10 to Watch" where each person provided a 5 to 10 paragraph research statement suited for a relatively general audience. These vary in quality and message, but more importantly they have commonalities that one can distill.

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue ( When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice at bottom.

Summary:

This resource provides tips for creating a thesis statement and examples of different types of thesis statements.

Cheryl E. Ball explains the various ways job candidates in humanities fields are asked to describe what they study -- and why these descriptions are important.

As I mentioned in my last column, you will likely be asked to talk about your dissertation in some fashion (e.g., tell us about your research ) during job interviews, and the basis for many search committees understanding of your dissertation research will come from the dissertation paragraph you provide in your cover letter. This paragraph is a very brief abstract of your entire dissertation, and includes your:

Cheryl E. Ball explains the various ways job candidates in humanities fields are asked to describe what they study -- and why these descriptions are important.

As I mentioned in my last column, you will likely be asked to talk about your dissertation in some fashion (e.g., tell us about your research ) during job interviews, and the basis for many search committees understanding of your dissertation research will come from the dissertation paragraph you provide in your cover letter. This paragraph is a very brief abstract of your entire dissertation, and includes your:

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue ( When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice at bottom.

Summary:

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.

In the first stages of writing, thesis or purpose statements are usually rough or ill-formed and are useful primarily as planning tools.

A thesis statement or purpose statement will emerge as you think and write about a topic. The statement can be restricted or clarified and eventually worked into an introduction.

Introduction
Employers may use the terms “statement,” “summary,” or “proposal” interchangeably. The word “summary” suggests a focus on current research. A “ statement” would include your current as well as your future research agenda. It tells a search committee about your areas of specialty, your academic knowledge and writing ability, your fit with department faculty expertise and institutional goals, and your potential to make a contribution to your sub-field and/or to win grants.

Engineering (3)
Active Control of Rotorcraft Vibration
I am currently working with Boeing Helicopters to develop advanced control techniques for control of rotorcraft vibration, so that the vibration typically experienced by helicopters can be significantly reduced. My advisor Prof. XYZ and his former doctoral students developed the X-frame actuator for those purposes, and I am working on the design and implementation of the advanced Higher Harmonic Control (HHC) algorithms using ….will be flight-tested in 2002.

Cheryl E. Ball explains the various ways job candidates in humanities fields are asked to describe what they study -- and why these descriptions are important.

As I mentioned in my last column, you will likely be asked to talk about your dissertation in some fashion (e.g., tell us about your research ) during job interviews, and the basis for many search committees understanding of your dissertation research will come from the dissertation paragraph you provide in your cover letter. This paragraph is a very brief abstract of your entire dissertation, and includes your:

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue ( When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice at bottom.

Summary:

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.

In the first stages of writing, thesis or purpose statements are usually rough or ill-formed and are useful primarily as planning tools.

A thesis statement or purpose statement will emerge as you think and write about a topic. The statement can be restricted or clarified and eventually worked into an introduction.

Introduction
Employers may use the terms “statement,” “summary,” or “proposal” interchangeably. The word “summary” suggests a focus on current research. A “ statement” would include your current as well as your future research agenda. It tells a search committee about your areas of specialty, your academic knowledge and writing ability, your fit with department faculty expertise and institutional goals, and your potential to make a contribution to your sub-field and/or to win grants.

Engineering (3)
Active Control of Rotorcraft Vibration
I am currently working with Boeing Helicopters to develop advanced control techniques for control of rotorcraft vibration, so that the vibration typically experienced by helicopters can be significantly reduced. My advisor Prof. XYZ and his former doctoral students developed the X-frame actuator for those purposes, and I am working on the design and implementation of the advanced Higher Harmonic Control (HHC) algorithms using ….will be flight-tested in 2002.

If you''''re in the market for an academic job, chances are that you''''ll have to submit a research statement of some sort. These critters offer you the chance to distill your life''''s work and dreams into a short essay that can only hurt your chances of employment. Since you probably just finished your thesis where length is a virtue writing this statement can be daunting. While examples of research papers abound, there are relatively few research statements on the web. None of those were peer reviewed. Most of them were written by fresh Ph.D.s who found themselves in exactly your position.

To help you out, I''''m going to describe a fairly specific structure to follow. This may or may not fit your situation, and it may not generalize beyond computer-related research. I developed the structure out of need by analyzing statements from people who (a) have jobs and (b) work in my general field. Recently IEEE Intelligent Systems ran the feature "AI''''s 10 to Watch" where each person provided a 5 to 10 paragraph research statement suited for a relatively general audience. These vary in quality and message, but more importantly they have commonalities that one can distill.

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue ( When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice at bottom.

Summary:

This resource provides tips for creating a thesis statement and examples of different types of thesis statements.

Treating your research statement as though it’s a narrated walk through your vita does let you describe each of your projects (or publications). But the format is boring, and the statement doesn’t tell us much more than if we had the abstracts of each of your papers. Most problematic, treating your research statement as though it’s a narrated walk through your vita misses the primary purpose of the research statement, which is to make a persuasive case about the importance of your completed work and the excitement of your future trajectory.

Writing a persuasive case about your research means setting the stage for why the questions you are investigating are important. Writing a persuasive case about your research means engaging your audience so that they want to learn more about the answers you are discovering. How do you do that? You do that by crafting a coherent story.

Cheryl E. Ball explains the various ways job candidates in humanities fields are asked to describe what they study -- and why these descriptions are important.

As I mentioned in my last column, you will likely be asked to talk about your dissertation in some fashion (e.g., tell us about your research ) during job interviews, and the basis for many search committees understanding of your dissertation research will come from the dissertation paragraph you provide in your cover letter. This paragraph is a very brief abstract of your entire dissertation, and includes your:

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue ( When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice at bottom.

Summary:

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.

In the first stages of writing, thesis or purpose statements are usually rough or ill-formed and are useful primarily as planning tools.

A thesis statement or purpose statement will emerge as you think and write about a topic. The statement can be restricted or clarified and eventually worked into an introduction.

Introduction
Employers may use the terms “statement,” “summary,” or “proposal” interchangeably. The word “summary” suggests a focus on current research. A “ statement” would include your current as well as your future research agenda. It tells a search committee about your areas of specialty, your academic knowledge and writing ability, your fit with department faculty expertise and institutional goals, and your potential to make a contribution to your sub-field and/or to win grants.

Engineering (3)
Active Control of Rotorcraft Vibration
I am currently working with Boeing Helicopters to develop advanced control techniques for control of rotorcraft vibration, so that the vibration typically experienced by helicopters can be significantly reduced. My advisor Prof. XYZ and his former doctoral students developed the X-frame actuator for those purposes, and I am working on the design and implementation of the advanced Higher Harmonic Control (HHC) algorithms using ….will be flight-tested in 2002.

If you''''''''re in the market for an academic job, chances are that you''''''''ll have to submit a research statement of some sort. These critters offer you the chance to distill your life''''''''s work and dreams into a short essay that can only hurt your chances of employment. Since you probably just finished your thesis where length is a virtue writing this statement can be daunting. While examples of research papers abound, there are relatively few research statements on the web. None of those were peer reviewed. Most of them were written by fresh Ph.D.s who found themselves in exactly your position.

To help you out, I''''''''m going to describe a fairly specific structure to follow. This may or may not fit your situation, and it may not generalize beyond computer-related research. I developed the structure out of need by analyzing statements from people who (a) have jobs and (b) work in my general field. Recently IEEE Intelligent Systems ran the feature "AI''''''''s 10 to Watch" where each person provided a 5 to 10 paragraph research statement suited for a relatively general audience. These vary in quality and message, but more importantly they have commonalities that one can distill.

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue ( When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice at bottom.

Summary:

This resource provides tips for creating a thesis statement and examples of different types of thesis statements.

Treating your research statement as though it’s a narrated walk through your vita does let you describe each of your projects (or publications). But the format is boring, and the statement doesn’t tell us much more than if we had the abstracts of each of your papers. Most problematic, treating your research statement as though it’s a narrated walk through your vita misses the primary purpose of the research statement, which is to make a persuasive case about the importance of your completed work and the excitement of your future trajectory.

Writing a persuasive case about your research means setting the stage for why the questions you are investigating are important. Writing a persuasive case about your research means engaging your audience so that they want to learn more about the answers you are discovering. How do you do that? You do that by crafting a coherent story.

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 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.

10

Cheryl E. Ball explains the various ways job candidates in humanities fields are asked to describe what they study -- and why these descriptions are important.

As I mentioned in my last column, you will likely be asked to talk about your dissertation in some fashion (e.g., tell us about your research ) during job interviews, and the basis for many search committees understanding of your dissertation research will come from the dissertation paragraph you provide in your cover letter. This paragraph is a very brief abstract of your entire dissertation, and includes your:

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue ( When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice at bottom.

Summary:

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.