I am not sure if this question is too specific. Please feel free to mark it as such if it is.

I have come across a PhD advertisement that says "upload a curriculum vitae including a brief description of your research interests".

Does 'brief description of your research interests' means SOP? I can see that research interests and research experiences are different. Is 'brief description of your research interests' different from SOP?

  • 1
    You might want to clarify what is an SOP for non-native English speakers. Statement of Purpose?
    – BlaB
    Mar 14, 2017 at 13:56
  • 1
    It's important to note any other materials they are asking for. In isolation, the quoted sentence indicates a standard CV and probably no more than a small paragraph (3-4 sentences) stating your research interest. A typical statement of purpose is usually at least a page, sometimes 2. But each place tends to ask for a different mix of things with different words, so what else they ask for can help clarify what they are looking for with each individual item.
    – BrianH
    Mar 14, 2017 at 19:06
  • @BrianDHall : "upload a CV including a brief description of your research interests and have the email addresses of at least two referents ready, who are willing to send a letter of recommendation on your behalf." This is what it says. Should 'my research interest' be a part of CV? Mar 15, 2017 at 4:07

2 Answers 2


The intent of both types of response is similar enough to be identical, but there's perhaps a more important distinction here: this is part of a job application. The audience for this application is interested in what you have already researched, why you studied it, what you plan to research next (ideally as your PhD research), and how your past experience will aid your research plans. It's an opportunity to connect some of the material already listed on your CV, especially as CV's generally don't include much detail about the future.

This previous question ("Unclear terms: Statement of Purpose, Academic Statement and Personal Statement") touches on similar issues though it appears that the poster never received an answer they liked.


In my field (social sciences/economics) this would mean you need to include a section on your CV with some subject area keywords ("applied microeconomics, education, development" or similar). Typically this would be one of the first sections. In the case of a faculty search, this allows the search committee to see if you fit the department needs. In the case of a PhD applicant, it might match you with potential advisors.

If you are not sure if this is the case in your field, you might try looking at CVs from people at your prospective rank in the department.

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