How much focus on research interest in SOP

pqortic
Posts: 398
Joined: Fri Aug 29, 2008 9:24 am

How much focus on research interest in SOP

Postby pqortic » Fri Dec 26, 2008 12:24 pm

I was wondering if anybody knows how much we should focus on our research interest in the SoP especially if we are somewhat undecided about it and have broad range of research background.
for me, it's very important to see the laboratory and the professor inclinations in research prior to choose them and I think it works well for us, Physics applicant, since many schools say that entering Grad students will be assigned TA in the first year.

is just saying condensed matter as research interest enough or go deeper and maneuver on the "gap soliton distortion in Josephson junction " or something like that? what do you think?

nathan12343
Posts: 249
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 9:34 am

Re: How much focus on research interest in SOP

Postby nathan12343 » Fri Dec 26, 2008 1:26 pm

I've made a point to mention specific profs who are doing research that I find interesting at each of the schools that I'm applying to. I think that this shows you took a little bit more interest in their program (e.g., you looked at their website long enough to find profs, maybe read their papers, not just "I'm interested in condensed matter" or something similar).

They are accepting you into their program based largely on your statement of purpose and your recommendation letters, even if you may not end up working with any of the professors you mention, it will help you get in, so why not? I guess it's a little dishonest, but you don't know that you wouldn't like working with the professors you mention, so it's not really that bad. That's how I'm rationalizing it, anyway.

If you have very broad research interests, focus on some specific subfields in each of your broad research categories. Even if you end up not working in that subfield, if you get accepted based on interest in it, then so much the better; you're not promising to work in a specific area or for a specific professor.

pqortic
Posts: 398
Joined: Fri Aug 29, 2008 9:24 am

Re: How much focus on research interest in SOP

Postby pqortic » Fri Dec 26, 2008 5:04 pm

I have read in an another website that you should only mention the name of a specific professor in your sop only if you have had kind of affiliation or research experience with him/her unless otherwise it will decrease your chance of being admitted. because in that way you have narrowed your application to one person. it is not guaranteed that the professor wants to take a new student or even your file be reviewed by him.
expressing your interest in a research program or special laboratory that has several other joint professors is much better that mentioning only one name if you want to mention any.

nathan12343
Posts: 249
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 9:34 am

Re: How much focus on research interest in SOP

Postby nathan12343 » Fri Dec 26, 2008 6:39 pm

I'm not so sure that that's right.

See this thread: http://www.physicsgre.com/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1935&p=16309&hilit=statement+of+purpose#p16309

If you are reasonably sure that they have support for grad students, that you would enjoy doing what they're doing, and if you choose at least 2, and even better 3 professors to mention, then there's a good chance you'll hit on a prof that could hire you.

I think your application looks much better if you make it seem like you've done your homework.

valkyrie
Posts: 36
Joined: Sat Sep 27, 2008 11:50 am

Re: How much focus on research interest in SOP

Postby valkyrie » Sat Dec 27, 2008 5:56 pm

emperial wrote: because in that way you have narrowed your application to one person. it is not guaranteed that the professor wants to take a new student or even your file be reviewed by him.
expressing your interest in a research program or special laboratory that has several other joint professors is much better that mentioning only one name if you want to mention any.


I think that's basically what the others are saying: there's a difference between saying "I'm applying to your department because I'm interested in working on specific-topic X with professor Y ONLY", and demonstrating how the department matches your research interests by pointing out groups and people you are interested in working with. While the former might hurt you if that specific person is leaving or not taking students at the moment, I think it's a very good idea to show that you have a reason for applying to grad school in general and this specific school in particular. And if there aren't at least 2-3 people I was interested in working with, I wouldn't apply in the first place.

WakkaDojo
Posts: 41
Joined: Sat Dec 06, 2008 11:10 am

Re: How much focus on research interest in SOP

Postby WakkaDojo » Mon Dec 29, 2008 12:44 am

I agree with valkyrie. If you can't find anyone that you want to do research with, then don't bother applying. If you do, put them all in the statement. If they can't take students or don't want to take new students, then they wouldn't take you and you won't get admitted (therefore won't have problems down the road).

It always works out for the better if you include specific faculty members.

cato88
Posts: 420
Joined: Wed Sep 03, 2008 12:46 am

Re: How much focus on research interest in SOP

Postby cato88 » Mon Dec 29, 2008 12:56 am

WakkaDojo wrote:I agree with valkyrie. If you can't find anyone that you want to do research with, then don't bother applying. If you do, put them all in the statement. If they can't take students or don't want to take new students, then they wouldn't take you and you won't get admitted (therefore won't have problems down the road).

It always works out for the better if you include specific faculty members.

People change and I dont think that many people end up completely following the path they outline in their SOP.




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