Regarding my research interests

qp10
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2014 2:31 am

Regarding my research interests

Postby qp10 » Tue Aug 19, 2014 2:55 am

I heard that when writing my SOP it is useful, if not necessary, to specify in which areas of discipline I hope to participate if I get accepted.

Well, I can say that I am interested in studying gravity/relativity, particle physics.
The problem is, I don't have enough knowledge to understand what's going on in these fields.
I studied general relativity just enough to barely grasp some ideas about how Einstein's formula makes sense, and I'm still drooling in the midst of basic graduate-level quantum field theory.

Under these circumstances, how is it possible for me to point out which areas I want to take part in?
I'm quite sure making up nonsense just to sound as if I know things ain't gonna work.

Is this the case of most applicants? If so, how do they cope with this when writing their SOP?

Any comment or advice is appreciated... thanks in advance.

TakeruK
Posts: 813
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: Regarding my research interests

Postby TakeruK » Tue Aug 19, 2014 11:38 am

You should say something about your research interests in your SOP but you don't have to know or say exactly what you want your PhD thesis will be! It's not a research proposal. Also, being too detailed could be bad.

I think that you want to achieve two things by discussing your research interests. First, you want to broadly classify yourself--for example: experiment or theory? and what subfield of physics? This will help the department categorize you and they might find it helpful so that their incoming class has the right proportion of subfields and theory vs. experiment that they are looking for. Secondly, you want to demonstrate that you have some knowledge of what you want to do in grad school. It will show that you are making a deliberate decision and it will help them determine how you will fit into the department.

So you don't need an exact project in mind and you also are not necessarily bound to whatever you say. It's also fine to say that you don't know precisely what you want to do as long as you can still demonstrate the above things in doing so. In my SOP, I wrote a general topic of research interest and a general method I would want to study this topic. But, I didn't state exactly what the research question would be since I feel that would be too specific (and I wouldn't know!). I know others who were accepted in the same year as me who had much more general interests though.

qp10
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2014 2:31 am

Re: Regarding my research interests

Postby qp10 » Wed Aug 20, 2014 1:29 am

You should say something about your research interests in your SOP but you don't have to know or say exactly what you want your PhD thesis will be! It's not a research proposal. Also, being too detailed could be bad.

I think that you want to achieve two things by discussing your research interests. First, you want to broadly classify yourself--for example: experiment or theory? and what subfield of physics? This will help the department categorize you and they might find it helpful so that their incoming class has the right proportion of subfields and theory vs. experiment that they are looking for. Secondly, you want to demonstrate that you have some knowledge of what you want to do in grad school. It will show that you are making a deliberate decision and it will help them determine how you will fit into the department.

So you don't need an exact project in mind and you also are not necessarily bound to whatever you say. It's also fine to say that you don't know precisely what you want to do as long as you can still demonstrate the above things in doing so. In my SOP, I wrote a general topic of research interest and a general method I would want to study this topic. But, I didn't state exactly what the research question would be since I feel that would be too specific (and I wouldn't know!). I know others who were accepted in the same year as me who had much more general interests though.


Thank you TakeruK :D




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