Writing Research Statement


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What to do in PHD.Reserach

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  • Let’s look at some position announcements
  • Description of Research
  • Statement of Planned Research
  • Statement of Research Plan
  • Statement of Research Interests and Plans
  • Statement of Research Interest
  • Every time you describe your research or engage in discussion about your research you are preparing to write this statement.
  • Preparing this document is wonderful practice for interviews because employers are keenly interested in what you plan to do in the future. Include how your research interests fit into work others have done.
  • The more you write about your research, the easier it will get. You will be revising and refining it for years. Remember, the statement is about your research, not about your character.
  • Answer why this work must be done? Don’t feel you need to name specific agencies; talking about possible collaborations may be sufficient.
  • Have your advisor read it. Committee members too.
  • If this document makes the reader want to ask you further questions, even challenge you, it has done its job admirably, because it has helped make it seem that an interview with you would be lively and interesting. If you don’t write well, get help. If your plans sound simply like extensions of your dissertation, or if you use phrases like “We do this,” then you risk giving the impression that you view your plans as an extension of your advisor’s research and that you have not begun to think of yourself as an independent researcher
  • For a longer version, begin with a summary or abstract.
  • Another term you’ll hear – Research Proposal.
  • Sometimes you will need to customize your statements. Research plans sent to predominantly undergraduate institutions should be carefully designed to coexist with substantial teaching loads and to benefit from the participation of undergraduate students.
  • Note to myself: The only similarity I have seen between the academic and non-academic job searches (particularly for MechE's) is the job talk. Usually companies and organizations dictate the area(s) of research to a large degree. So, it is assumed that they would be interested in whatever area of research the company happens to be doing. Instead, they gauge ability to communicate, present information and research interest from the job talk.
  • Writing Research Statement

    1. 1. Preparing for the Job Search <ul><li>Writing an Effective Research Statement </li></ul><ul><li>---- </li></ul><ul><li>Science and Engineering </li></ul>
    2. 2. When do you need a Research Statement? <ul><li>It is usually requested as part of the job application process. </li></ul><ul><li>Even if it is not requested, you may choose to include it to strengthen your application. </li></ul>
    3. 3. From a position announcement for a Postdoc: <ul><li>Send CV, brief description of research and teaching interests, and names and addresses of three references to: </li></ul>
    4. 4. From a position announcement for an Assistant Professor: <ul><li>Applicants should send a detailed curriculum vitae, a statement of their interest in teaching and planned research and the names of at least three references. </li></ul>
    5. 5. From a position announcement for an Assistant Professor: <ul><li>Applicants should submit a letter of application, a curriculum vita, a statement of research plan and teaching interests, and a list of at least three references to: </li></ul>
    6. 6. From a position announcement for an Assistant Professor: <ul><li>Application packet must include: 1) curriculum vita, including a list of publications, 2) complete set of official transcripts, 3) statement of teaching experience, interests and philosophy, 4) statement of research interests and plans , and 5) at least three letters of reference. </li></ul>
    7. 7. From a position announcement for a Tenure-Track Professor: <ul><li>Applicants should include in their response a clear statement of their teaching and research interests , a curriculum vitae summarizing their educational and professional backgrounds together with a list of published works, and the names of at least four persons who may be contacted regarding the candidate's qualifications </li></ul>
    8. 8. Purpose of Research Statement or Research Summary <ul><li>It is expected that you will have begun to think coherently about research beyond your dissertation. </li></ul><ul><li>The research statement tells </li></ul><ul><ul><li>what you have been doing recently and currently, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>in what direction you hope to go, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>how your research contributes to your field. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Along with your c.v., cover letter and letters of recommendation, it helps hiring committees assess your </li></ul><ul><ul><li>areas of specialty, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>potential to get grants, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>academic ability, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>compatibility with the department or school. </li></ul></ul>
    9. 9. Write so that you… <ul><li>Give a context for your research interests </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Why does it matter? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Communicate a sense that your research will follow logically from what you have done and that it will be different, important, and innovative </li></ul>
    10. 10. Parts of the Research Statement <ul><li>A &quot;Research Summary&quot; combines features of both the statement of achievements and current work, and the proposal for upcoming research because it includes current aims and findings AND future goals. </li></ul>
    11. 11. Future Goals or Research Plans <ul><li>Include: </li></ul><ul><li>Major problem(s) you wish to attack. </li></ul><ul><li>The problem’s relevance to the field. </li></ul><ul><li>Your specific goals for a 3-5 year period, including potential outcomes. </li></ul><ul><li>If you know what a particular funding agency funds, you can name the agency and briefly outline a proposal. This might convince the reader that you are on the way to getting a project funded. </li></ul><ul><li>At the same time, you should have research goals that have broad enough goals so that if one topic doesn't get funded there are other areas on which you can work. </li></ul>
    12. 12. How to Make it Effective -- Format <ul><li>Use headings (and subheadings), bullets, and white space. </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid page-long paragraphs. </li></ul><ul><li>It should be1-2 pages long; 3 pages at the most. </li></ul><ul><li>Get feedback. </li></ul><ul><li>Proofread!!! </li></ul>
    13. 13. How to Make it Effective -- Content <ul><li>Write as clearly and concisely as you can. </li></ul><ul><li>What excites you about your research? Sound fresh. </li></ul><ul><li>Where appropriate, acknowledge the work of others. </li></ul><ul><li>Use language that shows you’ve begun to think of yourself as an independent researcher </li></ul><ul><li>If you've identified funding organizations likely to support your research plans, indicate that. </li></ul>
    14. 14. Preparing for the Interview <ul><li>Consider preparing a longer version (5-15 pages) to bring along to the on site interview. [Check with your advisor to see if this is necessary.] </li></ul><ul><li>Candidates may be asked to describe research plans and budget in detail at the campus interview. Be prepared. </li></ul><ul><li>Include laboratory needs (how much budget you need for equipment, how many grad assistants needed, etc.) to start up the research. </li></ul>
    15. 15. Research Proposal <ul><li>For candidates who are more senior </li></ul><ul><li>Future Goals becomes an expanded Specific Aims page as required for grant application </li></ul><ul><li>Includes several sections, including an abstract, a scientific justification, observations (unless the subject is more theoretical in nature, in which case the proposed simulation or modeling is discussed), any historical research/findings that are significant to the study and a conclusion. </li></ul>
    16. 16. Statement…Summary…Proposal. What’s the difference? <ul><li>The three terms are often used interchangeably. </li></ul><ul><li>The statement and summary are quite similar in that they focus on current research. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Depending on the position requirements you may want to say more about what you have done in a research statement or summary than in a research proposal. </li></ul></ul>
    17. 17. Sample Research Statements <ul><li>Look at those of students/postdocs on the job market. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Surf the web to find statements. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Keep in mind that everyone’s will be different. </li></ul></ul>
    18. 18. <ul><li>Sample Statement of Research Interests p.1. </li></ul><ul><li>Candidate’s Name </li></ul><ul><li>Current Research </li></ul><ul><li>Active Control of Rotorcraft Vibration </li></ul><ul><li>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 ….be flight-tested in 2002. </li></ul><ul><li>Active Control of Noise Radiated from Underwater Vehicles </li></ul><ul><li>I have worked with Northrop Grumman Corp. and Materials Systems Inc. to develop new technology for the reduction of radiated noise from vibrating underwater vehicles using smart structures technologies. This project has been funded by the Office of Naval Research, with an objective of developing “smart” underwater vehicle systems so that the enemy cannot detect …The new sensing method is numerically validated on a thick-walled cylindrical shell with 55 piezoelectric panels mounted. </li></ul>
    19. 19. <ul><li>Future Research Goals p. 2 </li></ul><ul><li>My future research goal is to develop “intelligent structural systems”, from the micro-scales (MEMS) to macro-scales (aerospace systems and underwater vehicles), which will… For this research goal, I will focus on the following three research areas. First, I will carry out research on structure/fluid/control interaction phenomena …will be critical design issues in those complex structural systems, both in micro- and macro- scales, so the fundamental understanding of the phenomena is very important to successful implementation of the structural/acoustic control algorithms. Second, I will extend my specialization in smart structures technologies to the development of advanced sensors and actuators for intelligent …integrated within the systems will be critical in future areas of research. Finally, I will continue my research on advanced control and decision-making algorithms for noise and vibration reduction of complex structural systems… </li></ul>
    20. 20. Getting Help with Your Job Search <ul><li>Your advisor and other faculty </li></ul><ul><li>Your scholarly/professional association </li></ul><ul><li>Career Services (Suite 20, McNeil Building, 3718 Locust Walk) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Critiques of job hunting materials </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Confidential appointments on your career </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Workshops and speaker programs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>www.vpul.upenn.edu/careerservices </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>E-mail distribution list of career information and position announcements </li></ul></ul><ul><li>ScienceCareers– The Academic Scientist’s Toolkit </li></ul><ul><li>http://sciencecareers.sciencemag.org/career_development/previous_issues/articles/0000/the_academic_scientists_toolkit/ </li></ul>
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