I am currently in the process of applying for tenure-track assistant professor jobs. I was wondering whether I should write "we" or "I" in my research statement. While it is true that I did not do all the research on my own, I have heard that in a research statement, I am trying to sell my research agenda and thus should use "I" rather than "we". Nevertheless, I get an odd feeling as if I am taking all the credit for something that was done with other researchers.

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    possible duplicate of Use of first person in a PhD Thesis
    – enthu
    Oct 10, 2014 at 8:56
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    @EnthusiasticStudent I strongly dis-agree that this question is a dup of the one you are linking. This one is about research statement and the other one is about thesis. They are totally different things.
    – Nobody
    Oct 10, 2014 at 9:20
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    @scaaahu research statements, thesis, papers and books are all academic publications. I don't think there is any difference between the usage of the fist person in these documents. If there is, it should be clearly indicated in the question that what is really special with a statement of research that OP did not find in another post and has posted a new question.
    – enthu
    Oct 10, 2014 at 9:27
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    @EnthusiasticStudent: I agree with scaahu. I don't see a research statement as an academic publication, but a specific document one submits for an application. Its audience is very different from that of a paper or a PhD thesis.
    – user102
    Oct 10, 2014 at 9:39

1 Answer 1


A research statement is a mix of past and future.

When you are talking about the past, you should be honest about the fact that you are not working in isolation---in fact, that is a good thing. Use "we" or "my collaborators and I" or whatever most accurately describes what actually happened.

The other key part of a research statement, however, is your views about the future: what you think is important, what your ambitions are for the future, etc. Those are unambiguously your own opinions, and should be "I" statements.

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    But what about when there is just one author? "I" seems the appropriate choice then but it sounds so self-centered. But "we" sounds strange to me.
    – ddiez
    Oct 10, 2014 at 12:35
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    The conventions of passive voice and saying "we" when you mean "I" are unfortunately widespread. Personally, I am highly in favor of using the singular "I" when it really is just you. I even have a number of solo author papers where this is the case, which sometimes gets static from reviewers. For a personal statement, though, I think there is no question: use the word that conveys the truth most accurately, and don't be afraid of taking personal responsibility for things that you are proud of.
    – jakebeal
    Oct 10, 2014 at 12:50
  • I wonder if people from more fields can chime in on this old question.
    – jerlich
    Aug 2, 2019 at 12:34

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