Research statements and proposals

When applying for an academic position you will sometimes be asked to write a research statement or when applying for funding, supply a research proposal. In all cases adhere to what the selectors have requested in terms of length and focus. Here are some general tips:

  • If they don’t specify a length, two sides of A4 should be enough.
  • Think about your audience. How close are they to your discipline? Adapt accordingly.
  • Make sure you address the question of why your research is worth doing. Don’t just assume that they will agree with you that it is. It is not enough for something to just be interesting to you. You must convince that others are going to be interested too.
  • Situate your work in the wider discipline. How does it relate to other people’s work? What does it change or what could it change in the field?
  • Strike a balance between your research track record (what you have already achieved) and your future research plans.
  • Be specific about expected research outputs.
  • Make sure the research you propose doing is both interesting enough to be worth doing but also achievable in the time frames involved.
  • Although you may need to adapt it slightly as it was written by an engineer, Heilmeier’s Catechism is still a useful set of questions to ask yourself when putting together a research proposal.