A good research interest statement sample can be hard to find. Still, it can also be a beneficial tool for writing one and preparing for a grad school application or post-graduate position. Your research interest statement is one of the key components of your application to get into grad school. In a few cases, admissions committees have used it instead of an interview, so it is important to write a strong essay. We’ve provided research interest statement samples for you in this blog post. We have also included several tips that will help you write a strong statement to help improve your chances of getting accepted into your dream program.
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What is a Research Interest Statement?
A research interest statement is essential for most graduate school, post-graduate, and academic job applications. Sometimes, it may be referred to it as a "statement of intent" or "description of research interests." While they are similar, research interest statement may require some additional information. Generally, your statement will pride a brief overview of your research background, including your past research experience, the current state of your research, and the future research you'd like to complete, including any required equipment and collaborations. It is usually written in the form of a short essay. Still, of course, different graduate programs can have specific requirements, so make sure to check the program you are applying to and read the particular instructions that they give to ensure your research interest statement meets their requirements.
Why Do You Need a Research Interest Statement?
Your research statement plays a big role in the committee's decision. Ultimately, they are trying to figure out if you, as a person, and your research, would be a good fit for their program. A strong statement can help you convince them of this by showing your passion for research, your research interests and experience, the connection between your interests and the program, and the extent of your writing skills which is really important for paper and grant writing, and thus for earning money for your research!
Undergraduate programs are centered around classes, but graduate and post-graduate programs are all about your research and what your research contributes to your discipline of choice. That is why a research interest statement is so important, because it is essentially a way for you to share this information with the program that you have chosen.
Writing a strong statement can be helpful to you, as well. Having to explain your research and talk about your goals coherently will give you a chance to define your future research and career plans, as well as academic interests.
What Should Your Research Interest Statement Include?
The exact requirements of the research interest statement can vary depending on where you are applying and for what position. Most faculty positions will need you to produce a separate file for your statement, and most of the time, for an academic program, you can simply include your statement within your CV for graduate school.
Need to prepare your grad school CV? This video has helpful advice for you:
Unless otherwise stated by the program or faculty that you are applying to, your statement should be one to two pages long or between 600 and 1000 words. If you are including your description of interest statements on your resume, then it would be ideal to keep it between 400 and 600 words. Most programs will give you guidelines for the research interest statement so make sure you follow those. They rarely include a specific question or prompt but they might ask for a particular detail to be included in your interest statement. For example, a university’s requirements may look something like this: “In your statement of interest, you should detail your study and/or research interests and reasons for seeking admission. You must identify a faculty member from the Anthropology of Department with whom you are interested in being your advisor. The length of a statement of intent should be 2 pages in length (single-spaced, Times New Roman font size 12 point)”
Your statement should include a brief history of your past research. It should tell the committee what you have previously set out to answer with your research projects, what you found, and if it led to any academic publications or collaborations. It should also address your current research. What questions are you actively trying to solve? You will need to tell the committee if you’ve made any progress, what you have found, if you are connecting your research to the larger academic conversation and what the larger implications of your work actually are. Finally, you want to talk about the future of your research. What further questions do you want to solve? How do you intend to find answers to these questions? What are the broader implications of your potential results, and how can the institution you are applying to help you?
How to Write a Strong Statement
Before we show you some examples, let's go over a few essential things that you need to keep in mind while writing your research interest statement to make sure it is strong.
Give Yourself Ample Time: Much like with other components of your application, like your CV or a graduate school interview question, preparation is the key to success. You should give yourself enough time to thoroughly research the program or faculty you are applying to, gather all the information or documents that can aid you in writing, and then write and rewrite as many times as you need to. Give yourself at least 6 weeks to draft, redraft, and finalize your statement. You may also want to consider investing in a graduate school admissions consultant as they have more experience writing these types of essays and may see things that you can’t.
Research the Program/Faculty: The purpose of your research interest statement is to tell the committee all about your research plans, how it will contribute to the field and convince them that not only is their institution is the best place for it, but that you will be an asset to them as a candidate. To do this, you need to know what kind of candidate they are looking for, what kind of research they have been interested in in the past, and if there is anything particular that they require in the research interest statement. Remember, expectations for research statements can vary among disciplines and universities, so it is essential that you write for the right audience.
The Format / Writing Style
Your research statement should be in an academic essay format. It needs to be concise, well-organized, and easy to read. For graduate school, PhD or post-doc positions, your research interest statement will usually be a part of your resume. We recommend that you stick to the following things when it comes to the format:
Introduction: This is a functional academic document, unlike college essays or personal statements, so you want to go straight to the point and focus on the key information that needs to be conveyed. You want to use this paragraph to tell the committee why you are writing this statement. In other words, you should clearly state what kind of research you are interested in pursuing at the institution in question and explain why you are drawn to the subject.
Body: This is your “why and how” paragraphs. In 2 or 3 paragraphs, you should expand on your interest, background, accomplishments, and plans in the field of research. Depending on your level of experience, you may use this time to talk about your previous or current research. If you do not have much experience, then you may use this paragraph to talk about any skills or academic achievements that could be relevant.
Conclusion: To conclude, you should restate your interest and tie it back to the research you intend to continue at the university. Be specific about the direction you’d like to take the research in, who you’d like to work with, and what the institution has that would help you. We also suggest including a concise statement that reiterates your unique suitability for the program, and what you can contribute to it and your chosen field.
Common Pitfalls to Avoid
Being Too Personal: Often, students will confuse the statement of purpose and the research interest statement or letter of intent. It is essential to understand the difference between these two documents because some programs will ask for both of these documents. There is quite a bit of overlap between the two essays, so they are very easy to mix up. Both documents ask applicants to focus on their research interests, relevant past academic & professional experiences, and their long-term goals in the field. However, a statement of purpose is more of a personal statement that describes your journey and overall suitability for a program. In contrast, a research interest statement is a more formal academic document specific to the research you intend to pursue in a program. It will include many details such as the faculty members you want to work with, the program facilities and resources you wish to use, etc.
Not Following Guidelines: As mentioned earlier, these statements can vary depending on the discipline and the faculty. It is crucial that you review all the institution's guidelines and follow them. Some schools will have a specific word count, others may simply give you a maximum and minimum word count. Others may even have a specific prompt or question that you will need to answer with your essay. You want to make sure that you are following the instructions provided by the program.
Using Too Much Jargon: Your statement will be read by people who are most likely knowledgeable, but they might not be from your specific field or specialty. We understand that it may not be possible to be clear about your research without using a few niche words, but try to keep them at a minimum and avoid using acronyms that are not well known outside of your specialty.
Having One Generic Statement: The requirements of your research statement are different from one school to another, and you should tailor your letter to the program you are writing to. We know that the research and experience you are talking about are still the same, but the qualities and aspects of that experience you play up should help you appeal to the school you are applying to. For example, if you are applying to a very collaborative program, you should highlight your collaborations and your experience working as part of a team.
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Research of Interest Statement Samples
Below are sample research interest statements for reference:
Research Statement of Interest 1
As the child of an immigrant, I have always been fascinated by the relationship between identity, geographic territory, and economic development. With the rise of globalization, there is a broader effort in the social sciences to study the link between cultural identity, human mobility, and economic development in the contemporary world. I hope that my research will contribute to this as well. I am applying to the X University Global Anthropology program, as it is the best place for me to explore my research interests and channel them towards my long-term goals. I believe that my undergraduate education and the research experience it gave me have prepared me to undertake advanced research projects, thus making me an excellent candidate for this program.
I spent the first two years of undergraduate studies taking psychology courses. I went to university knowing that I wanted to learn about human behavior and culture. I was thirsty for information, but I did not know what kind of information just yet. It wasn’t until I took an elective anthropology class in my second year and started discussing identity in anthropology that something clicked. Unlike many other social sciences, anthropology explores the different ways that cultures affect human behavior and that connected right away with my experience as an immigrant. I have been passionate about the subject ever since, and I intend on spending my career exploring this topic further.
In the long run, I am interested in understanding how geography affects the construction of one’s cultural identity, especially when it comes to immigrants. Literature already exists on the topic, but most of it examines the upper levels of this process of social reproduction, concentrating on the roles of governments and associations in promoting ties between migrants and their homelands. Prof. Jane Doe Smith is one of the anthropologists researching the transnational migration experience, and I hope to have the opportunity to work with her at X University.
I was fortunate to be part of a summer research experience as an undergraduate, which took place in several west African countries, including Mali, Senegal, and Nigeria. Dr. Sam Smith was leading the research, and my time on his team allowed me to gain hands-on experience in research while living abroad. One of the things that I did almost daily was interview the subjects in a controlled environment, and sometimes I got to be a part of traditional ceremonies. I learnt how to observe without being intrusive and how to interact with clinical subjects. The experience only strengthened my curiosity and conviction that today more than ever, we need to understand what identity is and the different factors that can affect it.
I enrolled in several challenging research-oriented courses such as Applied Statistical Inference for the Behavioral Sciences, Principles of Measurement, and more throughout my degree. I was also able to work as a research lab assistant for one of my mentors, Mr. Jonathan Smith. I worked with him while he studied the relationship between identity, culture and “self.” My main duties were to assist in the creating of surveys and other assessment materials, administer written and verbal tests to participants, create literature reviews for potential resources, create summaries of findings for analysis and other office duties such as reserving testing rooms. This particular experience allowed me to get some hands-on experience with data collection, data analysis, report preparation and the creation of data summaries.
I know that there is a lot more that I can learn from the X University. I have seen the exemplary work in anthropology and other social studies done by the staff and alumni of this school. It has inspired and convinced me beyond the shadow of a doubt that pursuing my graduate studies in your program meets my personal, academic, and professional goals objectives.
My advanced research skills, passion for anthropology and clinical research, as well as my academic proficiency make me the ideal candidate for X University's Clinical Global Anthropology Master’s program. I believe that X University’s rigorous curriculum and facilities make it the perfect place for me, my long-term career goals and my research commitments.
Research Interest Statement 2
I am applying to the brain and development master's program of X university because it is one of the few universities that not only has a program that combines the two disciplines that I majored in my undergraduate studies: Psychology and Linguistics; but also because it is a program that I know would allow me to grow as a researcher, contribute to my chosen fields and achieve my long-term career goals. My research is motivated by two of my favorite things: language and music. To be more specific, hip-hop music. In 20xx, Rollingstone magazine published an article stating that hip hop was now more popular than rock and roll. The rise in popularity of this initially very niche genre has sparked a conversation in specific academic fields such as psychology, sociology, linguistics, and English about the use of language within it but also the effects that it can have on those who listen to it. I hope to one day contribute to that conversation by studying the relationship between hip-hop music and vocabulary development, and I believe that pursuing this particular research interest at X university is the best way for me to do that.
There are many potential places this research may lead me and many potential topics I may explore. Furthermore, there are many things that it would allow us to learn about the effect that music has on our brains and society at large.
I was fortunate enough to work under Dr. Jane D. Smith at the University of X for two years while conducting her recently published study on vocabulary instruction for children with a developmental language disorder. During my time in her lab, I interviewed participants and put together evaluation materials for them. I was also responsible for data entry, analysis, and summarizing. This experience gave me the skills and the knowledge that allowed me to exceed expectations for my final research project in undergraduate school.
One of my undergraduate degree requirements was to complete a small independent study under the supervision of a professor. I chose to study music's effect on children's vocabulary development. Several studies look for ways to decrease the million-word gap, and I wanted to see if this thing that I am so passionate about, music, had any effect at all. I compiled multiple literature reviews and analyzed their results, and I found that there is indeed a correlation between the number of words that a child spoke and the amount of music that they were exposed to.
This research is currently being explored on a larger scale by Prof. John Doe at X university and learning from him is one of the many reasons I have applied to this program. I took several research methodology courses throughout my degree, and I would love to enroll in the Applied Statistics for Psychology course he is currently teaching to build upon the foundational knowledge I already have. There are several other faculty members in the brain and language department with whom learning from would be a dream come true. In addition to that, working with them is a real possibility because the research they are currently doing and the research I hope to pursue are greatly matched.
I genuinely believe that X university has the curriculum and facilities that I need to meet my long-term goals and research commitments. I also believe that my academic achievements, eagerness to learn, and passion make me the perfect candidate for your program.
Interested in some tips to help you manage grad school once you're there? Check out this video:
1. What is a research interest statement?
It is essentially an essay that provides a brief overview of your research experience and goals. This includes your past research experience, the current state of your research, and the future research you'd like to complete. It is also sometimes referred to as a "statement of intent" or "description of research interests."
2. What is the purpose of a research interest statement?
This statement tells the admissions committee more about you as an applicant. It gives you the opportunity to tell them more about your research (past, present, and future) and show them that you are a good fit for their institution.
3. Does every graduate school program require a research interest statement?
No. Some graduate school programs might ask for a statement of purpose and a writing sample instead, or they could ask for none of the above. You should always check the requirements of the specific program that you’re applying to.
4. How long should my statement be?
Generally, your statement should be 400 to 1000 words or about two pages long. That said, most programs will give you guidelines so make sure you check those and follow them.
5. Can I write one research interest statement for all the programs I’m applying to?
You certainly can but we do not recommend it. You should always tailor your statement to the program you are applying to. Remember that the aim is to convince the admissions committee that you are a good fit for their school so make sure you highlight the qualities and values that they care about.
6. How should I format my research interest statement?
We recommend that you doublecheck the information provided by your chosen program as they often have specific instructions for the format of the letter. If none exist, make sure that the format of your document is pleasing to the eye. Stick to easily legible fonts, a decent font size, spacing, margins, etc. Also, it is best to keep the content of the letter concise and professional.
7. When should I start writing my research interest statement?
We recommend giving yourself at least 6 weeks to write your statement. This will give you ample time to brainstorm, write a strong letter, read it again and edit it as many times as necessary. It also gives you enough time to get expert eyes on your letter and work with them to improve it if you wish.
8. Are research interest statements only used in graduate school?
No. Research interest statements are often required for post-graduate school applications and for other positions in academic faculties.
9. Can I get help with my research interest statement?
Absolutely! You can always reach out to admissions professionals, such as graduate school admissions consultants or grad school essays tutors.
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