As I understand, I'm rather free to choose a publication (and, thus, citation) style for a research statement. While being in graduate school (master's and doctoral programs), I've used APA, as it was school-wide standard and a requirement for Ph.D. dissertation. As a result, I'm quite familiar with that publication style. However, most of research statements that I've seen, use citation style that is different from one of APA style's (don't remember the name of that citation style, if it exists).

While the main part of using square brackets, etc. is easy and natural, I'm a little concerned about formatting differences in reference list, so I'd prefer to use familiar to me APA style's conventions.

Question: will using APA style's citation scheme have any negative effect on my research statement's readability, overall acceptance and, ultimately, on search committee's decision making?

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    Will the one you plan to use be in common use in research papers in your field? Jun 11, 2015 at 7:50
  • @TobiasKildetoft: Excellent point. Yes, it is quite common and even, perhaps, dominant. However, I have seen a significant number of research papers in my field, using alternative publication styles. Jun 11, 2015 at 7:56
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    As long as the research statement ends up looking like research papers in the field, then whatever style you choose is probably fine (and then picking one you are comfortable with is a bonus). Jun 11, 2015 at 7:57
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    I prefer to leave the answer to someone who is hopefully more familiar with your field (or just with admissions). I am still just a postdoc myself, so I can only speak from what I have perceived to be the case, rather than from experience with admitting people. Jun 11, 2015 at 8:01
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    This is the last thing I would worry about. Jun 11, 2015 at 8:38

1 Answer 1


No sane search committee member is likely to care about your citation style as long as it looks "professional." Nobody is grading you here, so really, you're just looking to avoid raising red flags.

So, what is "professional"? By that, I mean that it looks pretty much like something that they would likely see in a publication. Most fields have a range of citation styles found in different publications, and thus pretty much anything that fits within such a range is likely to not be remarkable, and your goal for your citations is simply that.

One last note, though: it seems that your choice of citation style is being dictated significantly by inertia of familiarity with APA. Since you will likely be required by future publications to use a range of citation styles, you may wish to switch from manual citation to using citation management software, which will help simplify compliance with a wide range of styles.

  • Good advice (+1) - much appreciated. I kind of expected that type of feedback, but just wanted to make sure that there are no potential issues that I'm not aware of. Jun 11, 2015 at 11:52

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