Research detail in SOP

RobC
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2010 2:49 pm

Research detail in SOP

Postby RobC » Tue Dec 07, 2010 2:59 pm

I have a question about how much detail to put in the SOP about past research. I did two large undergraduate projects, and I am not sure if two or three sentences summarizing each project is sufficient, or if it would be better to describe each in somewhat more detail--a longer paragraph that reads more like an abstract, and talks about the overall goal(s), methods used, findings, etc. These were both my own individual projects related to my advisors' work. What do people think? Do admissions committees want to read detailed descriptions of research projects (assuming the SOP word count restrictions permit it), or just more general summaries?

User avatar
HappyQuark
Posts: 762
Joined: Thu Apr 16, 2009 2:08 am

Re: Research detail in SOP

Postby HappyQuark » Tue Dec 07, 2010 3:22 pm

RobC wrote:I have a question about how much detail to put in the SOP about past research. I did two large undergraduate projects, and I am not sure if two or three sentences summarizing each project is sufficient, or if it would be better to describe each in somewhat more detail--a longer paragraph that reads more like an abstract, and talks about the overall goal(s), methods used, findings, etc. These were both my own individual projects related to my advisors' work. What do people think? Do admissions committees want to read detailed descriptions of research projects (assuming the SOP word count restrictions permit it), or just more general summaries?


For my SOP I just explained what the topic of research was that I did, a small bit on how or what I used to do the research and what my results were. I'll just make something up to give you an idea of what I did.

"During my senior year I did research alongside Dr. Blackbeard in advanced psycho-hypnotic phenomena. Using a HIBS (High Intensity Brain Scanner) and unicorn extract we demonstrated an increase in telekinetic efficiency by generating levitation forces which were twice as strong while utilizing only marginally more cranial energy."

User avatar
grae313
Posts: 2297
Joined: Tue May 29, 2007 8:46 pm

Re: Research detail in SOP

Postby grae313 » Tue Dec 07, 2010 4:27 pm

For mine, I had a short paragraph describing the general nature of the research I did (where I worked, how long I was there, what types of things we researched and the nature of the main project I worked on). Then I had a paragraph where I went into detail about a specific accomplishment I was particularly proud of. Then I had a third paragraph mentioning my publications, posters, and conferences and what I learned from doing this.

Remember that you are applying primarily for a job as a researcher, and the point of writing about your research in your SOP is less to get across what results you obtained, and more to demonstrate to the committee with hard evidence that you know what research is about and can succeed in that sort of environment. Also, a very general piece of advice on essay writing that applies across disciplines is to use specific examples that illustrate what you are trying to get across. It makes a more convincing argument and is more engaging to read.

Your research experience should be the bulk of your statement of purpose unless there are other important things to address there. I would describe each project briefly and generally and then pick one aspect of it to write in a bit more detail on. Again, don't emphasize the science--emphasize how what you did shows that you are ready and able to do research in graduate school.

User avatar
WhoaNonstop
Posts: 851
Joined: Mon Sep 21, 2009 1:31 am

Re: Research detail in SOP

Postby WhoaNonstop » Tue Dec 07, 2010 4:57 pm

grae313 wrote:For mine, I had a short paragraph describing the general nature of the research I did (where I worked, how long I was there, what types of things we researched and the nature of the main project I worked on). Then I had a paragraph where I went into detail about a specific accomplishment I was particularly proud of. Then I had a third paragraph mentioning my publications, posters, and conferences and what I learned from doing this.

Remember that you are applying primarily for a job as a researcher, and the point of writing about your research in your SOP is less to get across what results you obtained, and more to demonstrate to the committee with hard evidence that you know what research is about and can succeed in that sort of environment. Also, a very general piece of advice on essay writing that applies across disciplines is to use specific examples that illustrate what you are trying to get across. It makes a more convincing argument and is more engaging to read.

Your research experience should be the bulk of your statement of purpose unless there are other important things to address there. I would describe each project briefly and generally and then pick one aspect of it to write in a bit more detail on. Again, don't emphasize the science--emphasize how what you did shows that you are ready and able to do research in graduate school.


Truly, when you think about it, this is what SOP's should be focused on. You're basically applying for a job and trying to convey to them that you have the materials to get the job done. I'm glad I realized this before writing this years SOP. =)

-Riley

User avatar
satyad18
Posts: 229
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2009 9:17 am

Re: Research detail in SOP

Postby satyad18 » Tue Dec 07, 2010 11:37 pm

grae313 wrote:For mine, I had a short paragraph describing the general nature of the research I did (where I worked, how long I was there, what types of things we researched and the nature of the main project I worked on). Then I had a paragraph where I went into detail about a specific accomplishment I was particularly proud of. Then I had a third paragraph mentioning my publications, posters, and conferences and what I learned from doing this.

Mine goes very similar to what you said, except that I got no third paragraph. :(

grae313 wrote:Again, don't emphasize the science--emphasize how what you did shows that you are ready and able to do research in graduate school.

How can this be done effectively? Could you please elaborate by some example?

User avatar
grae313
Posts: 2297
Joined: Tue May 29, 2007 8:46 pm

Re: Research detail in SOP

Postby grae313 » Wed Dec 08, 2010 1:23 am

Think about the skills you want to tell the admissions committee you have. For example, the ability to work independently or as a team, to approach problems creatively, to be self motivated, to apply your classroom physics knowledge to new situations, etc. Instead of just listing out those skills, think of something you did that actually shows you have these skills and write about it, mentioning how it served as an opportunity to develop said skills. That way, you don't just say you can do something, you convince the reader that you can do something.

If examples weren't necessary, you could just write "I will succeed in graduate school and beyond because I have X Y and Z skills and abilities" and you'd get in. You need to provide evidence that you can succeed and evidence that you have those skills.

User avatar
satyad18
Posts: 229
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2009 9:17 am

Re: Research detail in SOP

Postby satyad18 » Wed Dec 08, 2010 3:35 am

grae313 wrote:Think about the skills you want to tell the admissions committee you have. For example, the ability to work independently or as a team, to approach problems creatively, to be self motivated, to apply your classroom physics knowledge to new situations, etc. Instead of just listing out those skills, think of something you did that actually shows you have these skills and write about it, mentioning how it served as an opportunity to develop said skills. That way, you don't just say you can do something, you convince the reader that you can do something.

If examples weren't necessary, you could just write "I will succeed in graduate school and beyond because I have X Y and Z skills and abilities" and you'd get in. You need to provide evidence that you can succeed and evidence that you have those skills.

Uh huh! Then I guess I'm on the right track. :)




Return to “Statement of Purpose and Resume”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest