I am applying to biomedical PhD programs in the US. I have taken part in 2 summer internships that resulted in poster sessions and presentations at local conferences. I have also taken part in research for 3 years at my undergrad. university that will result in a publication within the next 6 months (unfortunately, not in time for graduate school applications as this is my senior thesis).

In my statements of purpose when discussing my research projects, is it okay to simply talk about my hypothesis/question, methods, results, and overall implications without listing out the formal titles of my projects or how I communicated these projects (e.g. a poster session or a presentation in my cases)?

I have very limited space in my statements of purpose to discuss research, so adding an extra 1-2 sentences about my presentations (place, date, formal titles of project, etc.) takes a lot of extra room. I also am given the chance to upload a CV and typically list my posters/presentations in some sections of the application.

The reason why I ask this is because my PIs and advisors have told me to always list the "proof" of my work (e.g. poster or presentation in my case) at the end of my research explanations in the statements of purpose.

PS: Some applications tell me to highlight "whether any of these research activities [research projects] resulted in a presentation or publication." In these cases, I most definitely will include formal project titles/dates/locations of posters and presentations I gave.

Thanks for your insight!


1 Answer 1


Don't confuse the purpose of the CV with that of the SoP. The former looks to the past, what you have already accomplished. The Statement of Purpose, on the other hand looks to your future and what you expect to do in the future, both in future schooling and beyond. Together they provide a more complete picture.

So, I suggest that you only mention your past research in the SoP if it has research threads that you hope to follow in the future. And then, you only need to briefly mention the papers or projects (name, say) to create a link in the reader's mind. If you have work in progress, you can mention that.

Don't leave the committee wondering how you view your future. "I've been great up to now but, .... (nothing)".

  • Agreed. The prompts are usually quite clear. Describe past research, current interests, brief glimpse into future after grad school. My future goals after graduate school are pretty short because I don't know them too well now. Obviously, it would be research-related (maybe PI, maybe industry), but I think what most schools want me to highlight largely on are my current interests for: matching purposes, what I want to do throughout their graduate program, if I'm a good fit for the program...but I may be wrong? Oct 31, 2019 at 20:27

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