Research Statement

Research institutions increasingly request that applicants for academic positions involving a significant percentage of research time include a research statement with other application materials. This may be more common for postdoctoral scholars applying for research faculty positions, particularly in STEM fields, but is sometimes a request of graduate students and those in the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences for faculty positions involving both research and teaching responsibilities.

The research statement describes your current research and plans for future research endeavor. While your CV lists facts about your research, your research statement offers the opportunity to expand and provide personal context, such as why you chose this research subject, difficulties and how you resolved them, and why the research is important. In one to three pages, the statement demonstrates your:

  • independent research ability
  • writing proficiency
  • potential for grant application success

Description of past research should lead to and support the goals you have for future research. The description of current research includes how you will communicate your results, such as publication in a dissertation, paper, book, or other academic forum. The statement should showcase your research success but, more importantly, describe your future research goals and how they are different (and independent from) those you pursued under your faculty adviser. It is key to show your path to research independence, that you developed and followed independent research that you plan to continue to develop wherever you are hired.

If your adviser recommends it, you might want to write different research statements for different institutions and describe how your research goals align with the mission of each institution and program you’re applying to. The most important reviewer of your research statement prior to you sending it with your other portfolio items is your faculty adviser.