Someone told me that you shouldn't cite other people's work in your research statement, as it detracts from your unique contribution. What do other people think?
Date: 13 Oct 2010 22:44
Number of posts: 8
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I'm citing a number of other papers, but more as background - that is, to introduce an area of research and why it's important - than as part of describing my own projects and future directions.
I wouldn't cite others' work. A research statement isn't a lit review. The goal should be to make clear what the scope and nature of your research is.
Well, I think it can be helpful to show that you can articulate what the interesting issues are in your field and how your research fits in with them. To me, it seems odd to introduce a question or debate in the literature without including a citation. You're not going completely off in your own direction as a researcher, you're building on established theory and knowledge. But I'm very interested to hear the counter-arguments here, since I am now thinking about cutting down on some of my citations (esp. because I'm a bit over-long at the moment).
I have sat on a few of search committees, including those for senior level positions. The norm is not to include citations. Your job talk can be the place for you to discuss the broader questions in your field. In general, the research statement is meant to give the search committee a sense of the topic of your research and whether you are a "fit" for their department. The reality is, that when going through a large pile of applications, search committee members are not going to read every research statement carefully. In fact, the longer and more dense your statement is, the less likely search committee members will read it or read the whole thing. Also remember, you are including sample publications and these can also be ways of showing how your research fits broadly into the field.
What about citing your own work, e.g. when describing particular research projects that have led to publication?
I think you should definitely cite your own work. As for citing other people's work, I've seen examples of research statements from people who have been very successful on the job market in previous years, and they included them. Really, I think it comes down to the writing—if it's clear, flows well, and is interesting, then I think it doesn't matter one way or the other.