I have been nominated for an award to PhD students. I have first been asked to submit a CV and a description of my research project(s). After that, I have been asked by the organisers (directly by email) to submit "a short statement about your research experience and scholarly approach (not more than one page)".

I would like to know what kind of information I am expected to include in that document.

There is not a public announcement of the award describing the requirements, and I feel a bit concerned about asking them directly for more information, since they might consider my ability to write that document on my own (without further description than that above) as something to qualify.

Any suggestion will be appreciated.

(English is not my mother tongue. I believe that's why the terms "scholarly approach" don't say anything specific to me)

  • Both answers were really helpful. Lacking any other reason, I chose the answer based on the reputation of the user.
    – anonymous
    May 8, 2019 at 6:11

3 Answers 3


As a native speaker, I am confused by that phrase as well. The term Scholar Approach lacks a strong, concreted definition. For example, one author uses it to describe work life balance in an article and how to frame one's career in a second article.

I could see two reasons for the essay prompt using the words research experience and scholarly approach. First, if the award is open to non-science fields (e.g., the humanities), sometimes they use terms other than research to describe their activities (e.g., Harvard's Graduate English program uses the term "scholar works" on their webpage). Second, they may be looking for a broader statement about your approach to your research, learning, and teaching.

Given this prompt, I would describe my research and its impact. For example, my outline might look something like:

  • Paragraph 1: Overview of your research
    • 2-3 sentences about why you are passionate about the topic (e.g., I am researching cancer because a family member died from it or I have always loved nature and am studying Monarchs Butterflies because I am concerned about their decline).
    • 2-3 sentences about why society should care about your research
  • Paragraph 2: Specific that make your research species
    • My methods are special because...
    • My methods tie into the group giving the award because (write to your audience here).
  • Paragraph 3: Taking your research into the world
    • Describe how you use your research and new ideas in teaching, or other outreach areas
    • What is is the current or possible applications of your research
  • "studying Monarchs because I am concerned about their decline" Most people think overthrowing royalty to be a good thing May 7, 2019 at 21:46
  • @AzorAhai you've got a good sense of humor. I edited the post and clarified I was referring to Monarch Butterflies and not royalty. May 8, 2019 at 1:01
  • 1
    Thank you for your answer. While I didn't take all your suggestions, I did use several of them to write it.
    – anonymous
    May 8, 2019 at 6:10

Actually, I don't think "scholarly approach" is obvious even to a native anglophone. Consider the following a guess. Others may supply additional suggestions, I hope.

If you have rationalized how it is that you find (have found) interesting research problems, then you can say something about that. How do I go about deciding what is worth exploring. That is a useful question for any researcher to be able to answer. It also seems related to things about your research experience.

Since you are being considered for an award, I assume that you don't need, anymore, to rely heavily on your advisor(s). So I suspect that you may have given that some thought already.

  • "scholarly approach" is obvious even to a native anglophone" --- It would be interesting to know whether the organizers asking this are native English speakers. Of course, this phrase may have been used for several previous award selection processes (and maybe it originated with previous non-native English speaking organizers), and thus the language background of the current organizers would be less significant because there would be some inertia to use the same phrase now. May 7, 2019 at 17:29
  • @DaveLRenfro My impression is that "scholarly approach" was more likely written by a pompous academic than by a non-native speaker of English. Either way, the meaning is buried, if not entirely absent. May 7, 2019 at 19:49
  • Thank you for your answer. It has provided a lot of help in writing the document, that I finally titled 'Statement of scholarly interests'.
    – anonymous
    May 8, 2019 at 6:09

Your "scholarly approach" is your research methods.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .