An application for a faculty position normally needs a strong research statement, but what is included in a good research statement?

  • Highlighting the past successful research projects evidenced by publications?

  • Giving novel ideas for future research, although there is no evidence that the applicant can be successful in this field?

  • Including technical descriptions and graphs or writing for a broad range of readers?
  • Emphasizing potential collaborations for prospective research projects?

In general, what are the eye-catching points of a research statement? What does the search committee look for in a research statement, and what can extraordinarily impress them?

  • 2
    The four points you raise are all good ones, but the way they should be balanced strongly depends on who your readers are going to be. Perhaps you will get different answers from people depending on what readership they assume, post-doc committees at research schools, long-term hiring at research school, hiring at teaching centered school, grant committees... Sep 26 '13 at 18:25
  • This question looks like a duplicate of these two: academia.stackexchange.com/questions/10586/… academia.stackexchange.com/questions/8369/…
    – user102
    Sep 26 '13 at 20:25
  • @CharlesMorisset similar but not duplicate, as research statement for a postdoc position is substantially different from that of a faculty position: (i) the reader is principal investigator not a search committee, (ii) the applicant does not necessarily conduct the research plan proposed in the statement, as a postdoc fellow is joining a research project, instead of creating/leading one.
    – Googlebot
    Sep 26 '13 at 21:01
  • @All: The first question is for assistant professor, not postdoc. Besides, some postdoc positions (usually fellowships) require an original research project, led by the postdoc (e.g., Marie Curie Fellowship, EPSRC fellowship).
    – user102
    Sep 26 '13 at 21:04

What a hiring committee for new faculty is looking for is evidence that the applicant will be able to continue a strong research trajectory over the course of (at least the) next 6 years, and become an established leader in his or her chosen field.

To make a convincing case for this, you need to include evidence both that:

a) you have succeeded so far in doing this: that is, you have a track record that if it were extrapolated linearly over the next 6 years would result in tenure. So you should spend a good deal of your statement explaining what you have done, and why it is important/influential.

b) You can plausibly continue your trajectory. To do this, you should express a cohesive research agenda that ties in with your past work, and plausibly leads to a large number of meaty, interesting, unsolved questions. The more closely related this is to things you have already worked on, the more plausible it will be that you can carry it out. But it should also be different enough that it is new and exciting, and not merely a rehashing of your thesis work.

As in all statements, what you write about should form a cohesive story. If you work in several disparate areas, or would like to branch out to new areas, try and find something that ties them together, or some reason why your experience in both areas gives you an edge.

  • 3
    About your first paragraph: I am sure %95 of mathematicians are not established leaders in their chosen field. But I agree even low level universities, when hiring a new faculty, can have very high expectations.
    – user4511
    Sep 27 '13 at 2:16
  • I wonder what message single author paper convey.
    – PsySp
    Dec 4 '17 at 8:30

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