Research Statement

A research statement is a clear and concise summary of your research and dissertation. Its focus should be on your research achievements, the future direction of your research, and how your research can contribute to the field and the institution to which you’re applying. Research statements are often requested by search committees in order for the members to better understand your research.

Getting Started

We suggest you begin with an outline. The outline we've created below is an excellent guide for writing your research statement.

Paragraph I: Introduction

The topic of my research is _________ overarching themes include _________.

Paragraph II: Summary of Dissertation Research

Details of the methods, theoretical foundations and core arguments of my dissertation are _________.

Paragraph III: Dissertation Contribution

My dissertation contributed the following research to the field _________. The publications associated with my dissertation research are  _________. 

Paragraph IV: Future Research

The next research project will be on the topic of _________ and will use the following methods _________. 

Paragraph V: Wider Impact

The wider impact of my research agenda is _________. 

Tips and Tricks

Beware of “I Statements.” I statements are not verboten. They just need to be used with care. Notice the difference between the following two statements:

  • "I work with therapists, and help them collect data points from their clients during their appointments."
  •  "The primary challenge facing therapists is the assimilation of hundreds of data points during their appointments."

Stick to one page. In some cases, two pages may be necessary, but longer doesn’t mean better. The best statements are clear & concise.

Use basic formatting. No special paper, no special colors. Stick to fonts like Arial, Times New Roman, Myriad, Garamond, Calibri, or Book Antique. Put your name and the words “Research Statement” centered at the top of your paper.

Editing Your Research Statement

Always have someone proofread your resume before submitting it. PREPs is a great resource for IUPUI Science students, as well as the University Writing Center and the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL).

While writing your resume, be aware of these formal writing tips:

Try to avoid ambiguous references.

When speaking with friends, it's common to overuse ambiguous words like "this", "these", "his", "it", "they", etc. These words have no meaning in themselves, but in conversation the meaning is usually clear from the context. In written text, however, the intended meaning is often not evident to the reader, because there are many possible interpretations of "it" and "this". Even if the item to which you refer is explicitly mentioned in your paper, ask yourself whether there is any chance that the reader might not know to which of several items you might be referring. E.g. for the word "he", were there two or three people being discussed? If so then state the actual name of each; "he" would be ambiguous.

Watch out for homonyms.

Spell checker is awesome, but it rarely catches homonyms. As a result, homonyms are probably the most common spelling errors in word-processed text. Even if you are lazy and let the spell check fix all of your other words, make certain that you know the differences between words like:
it'sits
theirthere, they're
whetherweather
totootwo
sitecitesight
wastewaist
wholehole
farefair
greatgrate
affecteffect
discretediscreet
forthfourth
pastpassed
rollrole
leadled
lielye
throughout, through out
seemseam
newknew
illicitelicit
complement, compliment
extentextend
obtainattain
pairpare
personalpersonnel
suitsuite
principalprinciple
bearbare

"But" and "however" are not interchangeable.

The words "but" and "however" have similar meanings, but they are not interchangeable. If you take a grammatically correct sentence containing "but" and replace it with "however", or vice versa, the result will almost always be incorrect, mainly because of comma punctuation. Here are correct examples of how to use but and however:
  • "I like oranges, but I do not like tangerines."
  • "I like oranges. However, I do not like tangerines."
  • "I like oranges; however, I do not like tangerines."
  • "I, however, do not like grapefruits."
  • "I like oranges however they have been prepared."

Use caution with capitalization.

Capitalization is appropriate only for specific, named, individual items or people. For example, capitalize school subjects only when you are referring to a specific course at a specific school: math is a general subject, but Math 301 is a particular course. Similarly: Department of Computer Sciences vs. a computer science department, the president vs. President Bush. When in doubt, use lower case.

The above Writing Guidelines were excerpts taken from Dr. James A. Bednar's article, Tips for Academic Writing and Other Formal Writing.