I'm applying for a postdoc position at a university that asks to write a research statement taking into account possible interactions with research groups/faculty within the different departments (e.g. math, physics) of that university. I'm trying to understand whether this means:

a) I should write how my research connects to the different departments, i.e. I should point out how my research has some connection to the research of faculty X in department Y of that university, or

b) It's enough to mention my own research or their connection to different areas, without the mention of the faculty X in department Y.

So to be specific, say my research in math corresponds to quantum physics and say a faculty named John Doe in the Physics department wrote a paper in quantum Physics. So is it better to mention in the research statement "my research has connections to this area of quantum physics" or "my research has connection to this area of quantum physics, carried out by faculty John Doe in department of Physics"?

I tend to think it's b), because in a research statement, people don't normally mention how it can be connected to some faculty's research, which can be done in a cover letter. Advice appreciated!

P.S. After contacting the job poster, I was told that there'd be no requirement to contact a faculty member separately and hence submit a joint proposal together. The applicants won't be required to submit proposals anyway. Just thought of mentioning that in case it helps!

  • 1
    Is it possible to for you to get examples of what others have written for their statement?
    – puppetsock
    Jan 20, 2021 at 16:34
  • 1
    I'm concerned that "interactions" might mean existing professional relationships with current faculty. Perhaps you should clear that up? Or even previous contacts with them.
    – Buffy
    Jan 20, 2021 at 16:42

1 Answer 1


They don't only want to hear what they will be working on, and what topics this is related to.

They would like to see how hiring you would lead to new interactions, that is, discussions, collaborations, joint projects and papers, and so forth, in the department and at the university.

So you should outline your research interests and planned research, discuss how this is connected to topics covered by other researchers in the department/university, and highlight where you see possibilities for collaboration.

So no, just connecting to the field, not the person, is not enough. You collaborate with people, not with fields, and this is what they would like to see. (Note that this means that you should ideally have a specific look at the people you might want to work with, and make it concrete where you see room for collaboration ("this opens up the possibility for collaborations with Prof. X, e.g. on the topic of [specific idea 1 and 2}".), rather than staying very general. Ideally, i should be a statement tailored to those people, not a generic statement.)

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