If you are applying for a faculty job in computer science in a US university, should your research statement have references to research papers in it?

  • By references, do you mean "people who can tell you about me and my work" or a bibliography? The word is used in both senses. – David Ketcheson Sep 14 '14 at 10:13
  • @david good point. edited my question. – morpheus Sep 14 '14 at 14:00

Yes. Definitely. This gives the reader an indication of how your work fits into the larger body of research in the field.

Without references, it may appear that you are working in an area that is so obscure that nobody cares about it.

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    This is missing: If you do not include citations the reader will think you do not understand citation ethics. – Anonymous Physicist Nov 9 '20 at 23:34
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    ...or that you just don't know the field at all. – Ben Nov 10 '20 at 2:55
  • I upvoted and that remains, but would someone really apply for a faculty position with expertise that is obscure to the search committee? – Matthew Turner Nov 18 '20 at 1:56
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    @MatthewTurner: Yes, it happens all the time. For instance, for jobs at less research-intensive schools (say Carnegie R3, with a 3/2 or 3/3 teaching load), it's common that the department just wants someone who can do research and will publish decent papers at a reasonable rate, involve undergrads, maybe get a grant or two, etc. Even if nobody on the committee knows much about the applicant's research area, they'd still hire them if they can be convinced that it's an area that's active and reasonable: that papers in this area get published in good journals, receive funding, etc. – Nate Eldredge Nov 18 '20 at 2:18

One very important function of a research statement is to demonstrate that you know what you want to do from day 1. No one wants to hire a new faculty who have only vague ideas about what to do, since everyone is supposed to be productive as soon as possible.

From that perspective, a research proposal without specifics can be a huge red flag, and evaluators may fear that you just made up something fast. On the other hand, you can give an impression that you already researched the literature, thought through details and specifics, i.e. have concrete details in your proposals with bibliography, people may have more confidence in you. Note, that majority of the people who filter and judge your CV have no clue about your field, so such superficial impressions can be important.

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