Academic | Research Statements

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Research Statements

The research statement requires you to think actively about your future career as a research scientist by charting out long-term research goals for both yourself and your proposed laboratory. The research statement should answer three questions: 1) What is your research to date? 2) Why is your research important? and 3) What is your proposed research agenda at your new institution? Highlight your most important scientific findings and describe promising future directions. Provide the search committee with a convincing and realistic plan of your future goals, using your academic history as an indicator for your potential success as an emerging research scientist in your field.

Key Piece of Advice: Research statements are more effective if they are structured around research problems or focus areas, rather than strictly chronologically. Start with the current state of research in your field, then progress to what is and is not known, your research idea, your research, work planned for new ideas, potential funding opportunities, and your ‘fit’ with the institution. Be sure the reader understands what your most surprising scientific finding was and why they should care about it.

  • Tailor your research statement to the department and university you are applying to.
    • Consider the following questions: Can you put this in a dropdown box?
      • How will you be able to adapt your research to your new institution?
      • What resources does the university have that you will be able to utilize for your future projects?
      • What resources does the university lack that you require in order to complete your research? You can propose to secure external funding for new laboratory equipment, where applicable.
      • Which faculty members would you plan to collaborate with on research projects and grant proposals?
      • How will you incorporate opportunities for undergraduate and graduate research in your laboratory (particularly at teaching-focused institutions)?
  • Avoid jargon that faculty outside of your immediate subfield will have difficulty understanding. Try to pitch your research statement to a broad, but informed scientific audience.
  • Keep your research statement clear and concise. Eliminate any miscellaneous threads that will distract your reader from your primary narrative. The research statement should aim to get search committees excited about your research.

General tips for formatting your research statement

  • Research Statements are typically between 2-5 pages in length. The exact statement length may be specified in the job advertisement. For more guidance on formatting, read the detailed PDF.
  • Begin your statement with a paragraph about the overarching theme of your past research and how it connects with your future research plans.
  • Provide a summary of your past research:
    • What specific research methods did you use?
    • What did you discover? What were your conclusions?
    • What were your most important conceptual advances and your most significant contributions to your field? Reference high impact publications, where applicable.
  • Include figures and diagrams to make your statement more visually appealing and more accessible to non-specialists.
  • Set specific (and realistic) goals for your first 3-5 years at your new institution.
    • Outline 2-3 potential projects for future research, both for you and your proposed laboratory, and include any preliminary data.
    • Indicate potential sources of funding for your proposed laboratory, referencing funding you have successfully applied for in the past or plans to write new grant applications.
    • Cite current publication productivity to estimate future publication productivity.


‘Writing a Research Plan’ - Science
‘Writing a Research Statement’ Cornell University, Office of Postdoctoral Studies
Duke University – Dr. Mohamed Noor