I am currently applying for a PhD in Machine Learning Applied to Biology. I am asked to write a one-page research statement in relation to the topic of the position offered.

I do not understand what is expected of me in a one-page research statement. How is a research statement different from a research proposal? What is expected of me in a one-page writing? Do I have to develop a problem to solve and a possible solution in so little space?

Thank you.

  • This might depend on both the country and on the degree you will hold when you start study. For a BS holder in US it might be very different from someone with an MS in Germany. Can you revise?
    – Buffy
    Nov 13, 2021 at 11:44
  • Thank you for your answer. I have recently completed a master's degree (MSc in Statistics) and this opportunity is offered in a CS faculty of a Swiss university. Nov 13, 2021 at 12:32

1 Answer 1


Assuming, perhaps incorrectly, that the system in Switzerland is similar to that of Germany, you will find useful information, but not an answer here.

It isn't reasonable to expect that any entering doctoral student will have already developed a research idea to the extent that they have a solution, as that is the purpose of the dissertation research.

But in a system in which the primary work toward the degree is precisely that research and the student starts with a fairly high level of knowledge and skill, many, probably most, advisors will want you to be able to state a problem to be solved (question to be answered) and something of the methodology that you propose to attack it. That can fit on one page, provided that the methodology isn't, itself, novel.

And, of course, the problem has to "fit" within the broad outlines of the interests of the advisor.

So, if your proposal is in theoretical statistics the methodology is likely largely mathematical, while if you are applying statistics to some problem you likely know how to state the outline of the methodology succinctly, since your audience of one is probably an expert also.

But if your problem is so trivial that you can already suggest a solution, then you may need to dig deeper. The exceptional case would be if you have already done a preliminary study and intend to dig deeper. In such a case, a possible solution can be suggested.

But, focus on the broad outline of the problem and say a few words about methodology in the typical situation. One page. In naming the problem, some explanation of why it is important is also likely a good idea. And, if you are following up an earlier work, say a few words about that.

And, that one page may just be an introduction to a longer conversation with the advisor.

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