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I am wondering whether I should include a "research plan" as part of my research statement for the academic job market. My concern is that my research plan may not exactly match the projects being pursued at the places I'm applying, so I worry that by putting the research plan in a research statement I may reduce my chance of getting an interview in job application.

Of course, I can write a research plan for each research position, but it will take a lot of time for me to write different research plans for all the position I am applying for.

In your response, please include your background, so that readers can better evaluate your answers: what kinds of jobs have you applied for, what kinds of applications have you evaluated, location, etc. (Otherwise it's too hard to separate the knowledgeable advice from the rumors and best guesses of someone who doesn't know anything. Also, the "best answer" will presumably depend on the type of position.)

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Could you please edit this so that the actual question is more clearly stated? Also, at the level of generality you give, it is hard to know how to respond. Is there some reason you cannot give more precise examples, or would prefer to avoid doing so? –  Yemon Choi Apr 10 '10 at 1:20
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Examples of helpful background detail that you could add: what is your current position (undergraduate, graduate student, doctoral student,..?) and what kind of positions are you looking to apply for? –  Yemon Choi Apr 10 '10 at 1:26
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The question has been closed. For my part at least I simply couldn't parse it: what is the difference between a research plan and a research statement? What does it mean that the research plan is different from the position that is being applied for? [Of course a research plan is completely different from an academic job, so what you say is technically true, but not helpful in understanding what you're getting at.] I don't know what "reduce the matchness of research interests in job application" means at all. Please try again with a more carefully written question. –  Pete L. Clark Apr 10 '10 at 2:54
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Also, if I may go out on a limb, I am guessing that English is not the OP's native language. This may be a case where asking the question in their own language will help us figure out the meaning. –  Pete L. Clark Apr 10 '10 at 2:55
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I have voted to reopen. I think questions about advice in the job search process for professional mathematicians seeking an academic job are appropriate for MO, and are of interest to research mathematicians. Many graduate students have some confusion about what is appropriate in their job application research statements, such as indicated in the OP's question. I find this to be a real question, and there can be real answers. –  Joel David Hamkins Apr 10 '10 at 15:22

1 Answer 1

I can only speak of applications for academic jobs in the US (I'll note, I've only been involved on the hiring side very marginally in one postdoc hiring cycle), but in this case contemplating "avoid putting [one's] research plan in [one's] research statement when applying for a job" seems completely paradoxical. That's the only thing that belongs in one's research statement, so leaving it out would be counterproductive. (EDIT: this refers to an earlier edit of the question, but the point remains that that the whole point of a research statement is to give a plan for future research you would like to do).

It seems that you are asking whether it would be a good idea to lie about what your research interests are in hopes of getting a job; this seems like a very bad plan. You could write a couple different versions of your research plan for different institutions that emphasize different sides of your research, but I expect that there's simply no hope of writing a good research statement about something that aren't your interests.

A far better idea would be to email faculty at institutions where you are interested in jobs, explaining sides of your research/interest which would appeal to them.

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+1. In my view, Ben's 2nd paragraph nails it. –  Yemon Choi Apr 10 '10 at 21:58

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