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I'll be finishing my PhD in May, so I'm applying for jobs. I have my application materials prepared and have been sending them out. Occasionally an application demands something I don't already have prepared, leaving me to decide if it's worth creating that extra item to apply for that job.

As far as I can tell, a thesis abstract is basically like the introductory portion of the research statement, which I already have prepared. If I was asked for a thesis abstract instead of a research statement, I would chop down the latter to create the former.

The problem is, there is a job I'm very interested in that asks for both. I'm not sure how to interpret this. What are they expecting?

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    The few times I was asked for such a thing, I literally copy-pasted the abstract for my thesis into a document and submitted it. – Aru Ray Dec 15 '15 at 4:18
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    mathjobs doesn't want to tell me which jobs asked for it back when I applied so I'm not sure (I got two postdoc offers that round but I'm pretty sure those places didn't ask for a thesis abstract). Noone emailed me to tell me that I'd done it wrong though. Usually there is a contact person listed in each mathjobs ad that you could contact to ask for details, but if say the deadline is tonight I would recommend just copy-pasting thesis abstract, or making up a thesis abstract if your thesis doesn't exist yet. – Aru Ray Dec 15 '15 at 4:24
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    Cool. I just wrote an email to the contact person given. I have a couple weeks before the deadline actually. – j0equ1nn Dec 15 '15 at 4:25
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    Yes, there is a big difference between the 2 for me as well. My RS intro has a lot of historical context, and ideas about future work. My "thesis abstract" just says what I proved with minimal context. – j0equ1nn Dec 15 '15 at 4:28
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    @AruRay Can you please turn your comments into an answer so that I can vote for it? – jakebeal Jan 4 '16 at 11:26
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The few times I was asked for such a thing, I literally copy-pasted the abstract for my thesis into a document and submitted it. mathjobs doesn't want to tell me which jobs asked for it back when I applied so I'm not sure (I got two postdoc offers that round but I'm pretty sure those places didn't ask for a thesis abstract). No one emailed me to tell me that I'd done it wrong though. Usually there is a contact person listed in each mathjobs ad that you could contact to ask for details, but if say the deadline is tonight I would recommend just copy-pasting the thesis abstract, or making up a thesis abstract if your thesis doesn't exist yet.

In principle though, the introduction to your research statement and your thesis abstract can be (but isn't always) quite distinct (my thesis was a subset of my research statement). A research statement should have at least something to say about where you envision your research going, but a thesis abstract is mostly limited to the contents of your thesis.

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