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an anon

When I was on a community college search committee I ignored research statements entirely. I assume my colleagues did as well, since nothing involving a candidate's research interests or productivity ever came up in our deliberations. So (5) community college and (1-4) N/A.


is it interesting? does this person seem like they will generate future projects out of it, or at least, do they seem like they are generative more generally in terms of ideas? do they seem self-directed? are they just doing an iteration of what their advisor did? are they charting new territory? do I have a desire to ask them questions about their work and do philosophy with them? do they come across as overconfident in their work? open minded? would they compliment our faculty/grad students in the right ways (that is: be able to talk to us, but also add new/exciting/different things)? do they seem like they can get tenure here? above all else though, and again: is it interesting/exciting?

I teach at an R1 with a PhD program.

Bill Vanderburgh

I'm at a teaching-focused R2 in a research-interested department.

I read a research statement to gather evidence towards answering the question, "Could this person earn tenure in my department?"

This involves, of course, having an adequate plan (for the stage of career) which projects the next few years of research productivity in some detail, perhaps points toward longer term projects, and explains how future work will establish *an independent research trajectory that goes beyond the dissertation.* This last one is really important. A research statement that merely describes revising the chapters of the dissertation as journal articles is quite underwhelming. It is perfectly fine to plan to publish a couple of dissertation chapters, but that isn't *new* work so don't give it a lot of space. It is okay, good even, to connect future projects to work that has already been done, and to propose new projects which extend or develop that old work in new ways. It is the new work that will excite departments; connecting to work you've already done makes it seem likely that you have the background to complete those new projects in a timely manner.

The research statement should be plausible in the number of papers it claims will be produced in a given time frame, and modest in the number of different areas or topics that will be covered. Going overboard in either of these makes a candidate look like they don't know what they are doing.

BTW, I think it is important for candidates to remember that no one will ever look at your research statement again after the search even if you are hired. You won't be held to completing the projects you describe; no one will even remember them. So, while you CAN use the research statement as a way to plan your career, you don't have to and instead can simply propose a reasonable number of interesting projects that you could potentially pursue. The point is to make it seem likely that you will be able to earn tenure, not to actually plot your path to tenure.

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