Thanks to Internet and this site, in particular, I have a pretty good overall idea about contents and style, expected from research and teaching statements. As a potential postdoc or junior faculty member, who has recently defended dissertation, currently I'm updating my research and teaching statements to clarify my approach to teaching (so far I have teaching experience only in a form of informal tutoring (various disciplines) and corporate learning) as well as my research agenda.

With that in mind, I'm curious about what people on the Academia site think about advantages and disadvantages of the inclusion into the documents a small number of the following components (I've seen a number of examples of doing that):

  • (research statement) visual elements (hopefully, tasteful - light matching colors and LaTeX), such as a lightweight framework or simply a diagram, depicting current and future research areas of interest, their potential interaction as well as types of expected research outcomes;

  • (research statement) references to the appropriate literature (very brief review);

  • (teaching statement) appropriate quotes from general and scientific literature.

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    One visual element I would advice against is your use of bold font. It does not really help readability, but it makes a messy first impression. Jun 6, 2015 at 17:27
  • @TobiasKildetoft: Thank you for the suggestion. I think that a light-to-moderate use of emphasis formatting helps readability. I believe in using emphasis (italics and, to a lesser degree, bold, fonts), where appropriate, as one can tell from my posts on StackExchange sites. Jun 6, 2015 at 19:56
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    I have indeed noticed, and I (personally) find that you overuse bold. Remember that while emphasis via italics only stands out while a person is reading that sentence, emphasis using bold will stand out as soon as the person sees the page. In this specific post, I find that the use of bold in the three bullet points seems logical (though still unnecessary), while the other uses are strange (doubly so for the use on "small number"). Jun 9, 2015 at 7:56
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    Remember that when writing things for these purposes, you are also demonstrating that you are able to write like everyone else in the field, so unless it is common to see this style in papers in that field, it may well be counted against you. Jun 9, 2015 at 7:57
  • @TobiasKildetoft: Your points are well taken and I appreciate your (and others') feedback on this aspect. Perhaps, I indeed started to overuse bold for some time, even though I generally try to create a balanced presentation of materials, where emphasis tools are not overused, but, at the same time, most key aspects are emphasized for readers' benefit. I will gradually cut down on using bold to, hopefully, appropriate levels. Thank you, again, for all your advice - good points. Jun 9, 2015 at 9:36

1 Answer 1


I can tell you about what's normal in math.

  • It's uncommon to depict your research areas in the form of a diagram. However, if you are studying interconnections between different kinds of objects, say, a diagram may be appropriate. Of course figures/tables/graphs can be very useful in illustrating your research. If you include a diagram, it should be worth more than filling the same amount of space with text.
  • References to the literature are standard, and makes your research statement look more professional. I don't think people actually go look up these references, but if they know the area, they may check to see what papers you refer to.
  • One or two quotes is fine, if they truly express a key point better than you can yourself, but more is not a good idea. The more quotes you have means the less you personally have to say, and this is supposed to be a personal statement on teaching. (Quotes from student evaluations etc are a different matter.)

In any case, it's a good idea to have colleagues/mentors that you trust take a look over your application material for feedback. This way they can let you know if you've done something crazy, or if things are just unclear.


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