I am writing a research plan for a tenure-track position. I wrote a 5 pages of three sub-plans based on my previous successful works.

  1. 50% of each sub-plan is about my previous works, and 50% is about how I want to continue them. Is it the correct balance?

  2. Is it required to cite my previous references in the research plan or the search committee see them in my CV?

  • 1
    Please specify your academic field, where in the world you are applying for academic jobs and (if in the US, at least) what kind of institution you are applying to. There is no universal answer to questions like this. Mar 26, 2017 at 22:54

1 Answer 1


This is a lot of questions wrapped into one, but let's give this a try. LOL!

First, is this part of an application for a faculty position? If so, 5 pages is very long. The faculty search committee will have statements from many candidates and cumbersome application materials may not get full attention (I've been on a number of search committees and have been chair of search committees). So, try to get it down to 2 pages and stick to the basics. If you are using this statement for something else and have a 5 page limit, disregard this suggestion.

My advice is to try and find a unifying theme that all of your three sub-themes fit under. Then, introduce the larger theme and go into sub-themes A, B, C. Rather than dedicate a specific percentage of space for each (you indicate 50%, 50%), I would spend more time describing how your previous work resulted in specific skills, accomplishments, accolades, awards, grants (etc.) and then discuss briefly what your future plans are. I say this because your future research plans may change based on new opportunities and challenges.

The purpose of most research statements is to (a) describe your area and its importance, (b) demonstrate that you can be successful at research, and (c) can articulate a reasonable plan for securing funding and independently conducting studies in the future. Also, writing too much detail about your future research plans may work against you if a reviewer disagrees with some aspects of your plan. Consider that as well.

I would include citations, where appropriate, in the research statement, but only in-text. I would assume that the reviewers can cross-reference your CV, if it is also given to them.

Good luck!

  • "If so, 5 pages is very long." Sorry to repeat the same theme, but this is very field dependent. In mathematics 5 pages is a good length research statement for a graduating PhD student. For a tenure track job application the average is probably 6-7. There is a range of acceptable lengths, but 2 pages would be problematically short. (In fact several other things you write would not apply to math (or STEM) research statements.) However, the OP needs to provide more information about their field: at present, there is no way to give an answer that is guaranteed to be applicable to them. Mar 26, 2017 at 22:53
  • Very true, Peter! I mostly advise junior scholars in the social and health sciences. I must be much more clear about this when I type responses. Thanks for the feedback. Mar 27, 2017 at 19:13

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