I have a paragraph in my personal statement where I describe potentials areas in a subfield of computer science that I'm most interested in contributing research in. For US applicants, especially to the top 10 schools,

  1. Would I list references/citations to papers in the SOP/PS
  2. If so, where/how do I do that/what format should I use
  3. How about footnotes for citing a paper or two?
  • Yes, but I am looking for a suggested format I could use to cite a paper or two.
    – spaceghost
    Nov 13 '21 at 18:44

If these are your own papers, they belong in your list of publications in your CV. If they're not your papers, there's probably not a lot of point in citing them. I think it's enough to focus your SOP and personal statement on answering the questions, "Why are you applying? What will you do if they admit you? What are your goals and how does this fit into them?" You don't need a lot of citations to answer those questions.

(I've been asked for lots of LORs and on only one occasion has anyone ever given me an SOP or personal statement that had even a single citation. That one exception was a four-page SOP in two columns of small font with half-inch margins and a page and a half of citations at the end. I glazed over instantly and did not read it. I advised the student that in my opinion, no one else would read it either. The same student also wanted LORs for 17 schools.)

  • What if the citation is to a paper that is a general review of the subfield as a footnote, that points to some upcoming new directions I would encounter as a prospective PhD student?
    – spaceghost
    Nov 13 '21 at 21:51
  • and if that is the case, it's a review paper, what sort of a citation format would you recommend? Footnote? (saves trees) or a list of references in the new last page?
    – spaceghost
    Nov 13 '21 at 21:52
  • @spaceghost I don't think it makes much difference which format you choose. It won't help you very much either way. Nov 13 '21 at 21:58

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