Career Center

Research Statement

Introduction
Employers may use the terms “statement,” “summary,” or “proposal” interchangeably. The word “summary” suggests  a focus on current research. A “ statement” would include your current as well as your future research agenda. It tells a search committee about your areas of specialty, your academic knowledge and writing ability, your fit with department faculty expertise and institutional goals, and your potential to make a contribution to your sub-field and/or to win grants.

Content: Your research statement should describe

  • Prior and current research projects
  • How your current research contributes to your field—its relevance, distinctiveness and importance
  • Your research goals for a 3-5 year period and potential outcomes
  • Your excitement about your research
  • Your debt to other scholars but also your independence as a thinker
  • If applicable, funding organizations likely to support your research agenda and alternative projects showing the breadth of your interests

Format

  • Length: 1-2 pages, 3 at the most
  • Avoids page-long paragraphs
  • Divides content logically into headings, subheadings
  • Makes use of bullets and white space
  • Shows the benefit of careful proofreading and feedback from more advanced professionals


Clips from Sample Research Statements

  • Literature
  • Sociology
  • Ecology
  • Zoology
  • Engineering (3)

Literature
As a literary scholar, I view myself primarily as a general Russianist, with a focus on nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Russian prose, as well as on broad comparative interests that reach into other disciplines and traditions: in particular, German and French literature, music, Western autobiography, and the literary culture of East European Jews. Seeking above all to frame interesting questions, I have never been afraid to follow an intriguing tangent or explore an inviting comparison. At the same time, my hypotheses are always finally derived from, and supported by, close textual readings. I have found this mental discipline, acquired during my undergraduate training in English Renaissance poetry, invaluable both in my research and in my teaching. While my most satisfying critical projects often begin with a vague hunch or a sudden illumination, I never allow myself to forget the question I insistently pose to my students: "What do the words say?"

I have published articles on Babel and Gogol and am currently working on a study of the "fallen woman" theme in Tolstoy's Resurrection and Dostoevsky's Brothers Karamazov, as well as a pair of commissioned articles on topics related to my dissertation: "Odessa/Odyssey," on the construction of Odessa as nostalgic object, for an edited volume on identity in Russian literature and travel writing; and an article, yet to be named, on the literary culture of pre-Revolutionary Odessa, for Symposium: A Quarterly Journal in Modern Foreign Literatures. My dissertation itself examines the role of Odessa as formative milieu, as city-text, and as the organizing trope of a literary discourse created by Odessa writers of the Revolutionary generation. In it, I analyze unorthodox "autobiographical" works by the Odessa writers Babel, Olesha, and Kataev, and investigate the role of Odessa and "Odessa-ness" in each writer's narrative of himself. The warm response I have received from senior scholars in the field, and especially the lively interest shown in my work by native Russian scholars such as Marietta Chudakova and Maxim Shrayer, encourage me to hope that, as a book, my study will make a valuable contribution.

Sociology
Changes in Job Rewards and Job Quality Over Time
My dissertation explores factors that influence job autonomy, and how job autonomy has changed from 1969 to 2002 by analyzing nine nationally representative data sets of workers.  Job autonomy is conceptualized at the individual worker level as the control over both the substantive content and procedural terms of work.  The substantive content of work is the set of core tasks that one completes at work, while the procedural terms of work are the timing, pacing and scheduling of work. My dissertation has three main substantive chapters.

  • My organizational chapter analyzes  how organizational size and position of authority within an organization influence one’s  ability to control the content and terms of work.  It examines how workers have gained control over their work as a result of changes in the social organization of work, such as flattened hierarchies and greater flexibility.
  • My occupational chapter considers how  occupational power and skill influence one’s ability to control the substantive content of  their work.  Over the past thirty years, our occupational structure has shown growth in two disparate areas: professional & managerial occupations, as well as service occupations.  This chapter shows how control over work has increased over this time period as a result of the changing skill composition of the labor force, and despite a decline in the professions.
  • My gender and family chapter looks at the influences on one’s ability to schedule and pace work, and how this relationship has changed over the last twenty-five years.  As greater percentages of mothers with young children enter the labor force, there exists a need for greater flexibility in scheduling.  This chapter examines whether workers are gaining greater control over terms of work, and if so, if disparities in control over terms exist by gender. 

The data set that I have developed for this dissertation is unique and will be a vital asset to my future research.  The data set pools together information from the major nationally representative surveys of American workers since 1969 that look at a wide variety of measures for workers 1.  Arne Kalleberg and I plan to use this data set to develop a multidimensional measure of job quality, and to explore how job quality has changed over time.  I also plan to write several papers looking at how job security, discrimination, and job rewards for American workers have changed over time. 

Ecology
I am investigating the mechanisms that underlie community structure, composition and ecological dynamics of tropical forests and how ecological interactions are altered by human activities.  The overall focus of this interdisciplinary research aims to enhance equitable and responsible management of tropical ecosystems and is based on integrating knowledge of ecological processes in natural systems with the social, political and economic realities as viewed by a diversity of users.  Field research is conducted primarily in Indonesia where our teams investigate the reproductive ecology, demography and harvest of mast-fruiting Dipterocarpceae, the world’s most economically important family of tropical timber trees coupled with vertebrate and invertebrate seed predator populations that require dipterocarp resources.Studies in protected forest, commercial logging areas and rural villages as well as extensive regional or large-scale surveys are incorporated to address management concerns across several jurisdictional boundaries.  To achieve our broad aims, we have maintained diverse collaborative international partnerships across agencies and institutions including governmental, donor, local, regional and international non-governmental organizations and universities with the private sector.  Research is/hasbeen funded by NASA, USAID, NSF, as well as several non-governmental organizations andinternational conservation foundations.  Five complimentary long-term research projects are underway:

Zoology
If I were to join the faculty at Reed, I would also like to develop a research program on sexual signaling using local animal species that could be studied both in the laboratory and field in the months when classes  are in session.  Visual signaling in iguanid lizards and chemical communication in plethodontid salamanders seem the most promising systems to investigate.  To facilitate the development of this new direction to my research, I would be interested in establishing collaborations with Dr. Emilia Martins of the University of Oregon, who studies evolution of communication signals in iguanids, and Dr. Lynne Houck of Oregon State University, who studies the mechanism and function of chemical communication in plethodontids.

Engineering (3)
Active Control of Rotorcraft Vibration
I am currently working with Boeing Helicopters to develop advanced control techniques for control of rotorcraft vibration, so that the vibration typically experienced by helicopters can be significantly reduced. My advisor Prof. XYZ and his former doctoral students developed the X-frame actuator for those purposes, and I am working on the design and implementation of the advanced Higher Harmonic Control (HHC) algorithms using ….will be flight-tested in 2002.

Active Control of Noise Radiated from Underwater Vehicles
I have worked with Northrop Grumman Corp. and Materials Systems Inc. to develop new technology for the reduction of radiated noise from vibrating underwater vehicles using smart structures technologies. This project has been funded by the Office of Naval Research, with an objective of developing “smart” underwater vehicle systems so that the enemy cannot detect …The new sensing method is numerically validated on a thick-walled cylindrical shell with 55 piezoelectric panels mounted.

Development of Intelligent Aerospace and Underwater Systems
My future research goal is  to develop “intelligent structural systems” from the micro-scales (MEMS) to macro-scales (aerospace systems and underwater vehicles), which will… For this research goal, I will focus on the following three research areas. First, I will carry out research on structure/fluid/control interaction phenomena …will be critical design issues in those complex structural systems, both in micro- and macro- scales, so the fundamental understanding of the phenomena is very important to successful implementation of the structural/acoustic control algorithms. Second, I will extend my specialization in smart structures technologies to the development of advanced sensors and actuators for intelligent …integrated within the systems will be critical in future areas of research. Finally, I will continue my research on advanced control and decision-making algorithms for noise and vibration reduction of complex structural systems…