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I'm an undergraduate student studying physics and I'm applying to graduate programs in both the U.S. and the U.K. In my personal statement, I tried to explain the research I'm doing and I included the titles of my publications. I wonder can I add the corresponding URL links to the text in my PDF (I've done that on my resume)? I don't know if the admission committee would like that or not, but I didn't find any relevant requirements about that on their website (they only included the length requirement, and what content I should incorporate). Any suggestion is appreciated :)

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    Why not provide them as regular citations?
    – Lodinn
    Oct 20 at 7:29
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You can certainly add hyperlinks to your documents. However, when you add a hyperlink to a document like a personal statement or a resume, always assume it is not clicked. Three reasons for this:

  1. First of all, perhaps somebody missed the fact that there is a link at all. A blue highlighted word or a symbol might not be clear. If you do it, make sure that it is clear that there is a link
  2. Second, some people still like to print stuff they are reading. Hyperlinks don't work very well when they are on a printed document.
  3. People are busy. They could feel like opening yet another document feels like a hassle and don't bother.

So, what you should do is to make sure the document you provide is self-sufficient, without the reader needing to know the contents of the link. Assume they will not read it so prepare your document for that fact.

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    Next point, an URL might be a token, telling you that the link was clicked. Sometimes people do not want you to know, who, where, and when is looking at your document, esp. somewhere around HR. Oct 20 at 7:44
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    I feel this is just a tiny bit too harsh. You are avoiding giving an answer to the question, but you seem to strongly implicitly suggest that the answer is no, while you clearly put an effort into not dismissing that the answer may be yes. While I completely agree with everything you said, I disagree with what you didn't say, but implied. In my opinion, the answer is "Yes, add them, but more important, strongly consider [Jeroen's points]"
    – Andrei
    Oct 20 at 14:44
  • @OlegLobachev Not to mention that every IT department everywhere would strongly, and repeatedly forbid employees to click on links sent by people external to the organization. These security IT policies are utterly dismissed by the vast majority of employees everywhere, but one has to work under the assumption that they are not.
    – Andrei
    Oct 20 at 14:52
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    @Andrei I think you are assuming something that isn't there. I am not avoiding answering the question or implying something. I focused on the (in my opinion more relevant) considerations only, leaving it up to IGY to do with this as they feel they should. But you are right in that I forgot to put a clear yes/no in my answer.
    – Jeroen
    Oct 20 at 14:57
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    I'd add 4: It's not clear that the links will still be there, in whatever the admissions committee ends up reading. For example, in my department we get a single merged PDF with everything in the candidate's file. If there were any links in the original personal statement, I'm not sure they would still be present in what we get.
    – academic
    Oct 20 at 15:51
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Jeroen's answer is correct, but I want to offer a firmer one: Do not include URL's in your personal statement.

In a resume or CV, you should feel free to link to your own work. But understand how the link may be used: Your readers will probably not follow the link. If they do, they will use it to verify the existence, state, and possibly the at-a-glance level of quality of your work product if they choose. Think e.g. a github link to a software project or a DOI link to a published paper.

You can assume any links in a personal statement will not be followed. Furthermore, you can assume that anyone reading an application will have access to your resume/CV, which should contain links to any of your work products that you are willing to show anyway.

That is to say: URL's in the main text of a personal statement convey nothing to the reader and they have the major drawback of disrupting your writing with a useless token.

I also would not include an inline citation to your own work. Though this is less disruptive to the overall flow, consider that your CV/resume should contain what amounts to a bibliography of your own work already. By referencing your results directly as your own, a reader knows that they can check the resume/CV for details. If you provide an inline citation instead, someone reading the statement may interrupt their reading to consume information that you have already provided elsewhere.

I'd also recommend that you not include inline full titles of work products included in your CV/resume in the body of your personal statement. A sentence that contains verbiage like:

"In my recent paper On the equivalence of Foos and Bars in Baz spaces, I showed..."

is going to come across as a clunky attempt to draw attention to the fact that you have had something published. You could just as well omit the title:

"In a recent paper, I showed..."

and the reader will know to look at your CV later if they find the specific details important.

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  • It might help to describe how you'd expect a personal-statement to be read. I mean, it sounds like you're suggesting that readers are unlikely to do much more than skim it once, not even caring to see the title of a paper.
    – Nat
    Oct 20 at 22:49
  • Thanks so much for the helpful advice!
    – IGY
    Oct 21 at 2:30

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