Does explaining an interest in pursuing a research project on secondaries sound far-fetched?

May 7, 2020
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On many of my why us essays, I've defaulted to talking about the research opportunities available at the school. I often reference a specific department the school has in an area of research I'm interested in, and generally describe my interest in that field of research. Does writing this sound strange? I'm reading my responses over, and I'm thinking it reads like this:

"I want to cure cancer. Dr. Shelly in the department of oncology does cancer research. I will talk to her about this."

Does anyone have tips on how to make a research interest sound genuine?

I feel like there isn't a lot I can say about it, because I don't have specific details on a project I'd be involved with.
 

Goro

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On many of my why us essays, I've defaulted to talking about the research opportunities available at the school. I often reference a specific department the school has in an area of research I'm interested in, and generally describe my interest in that field of research. Does writing this sound strange? I'm reading my responses over, and I'm thinking it reads like this:

"I want to cure cancer. Dr. Shelly in the department of oncology does cancer research. I will talk to her about this."

Does anyone have tips on how to make a research interest sound genuine?

I feel like there isn't a lot I can say about it, because I don't have specific details on a project I'd be involved with.
You'll get more traction if you actually have done research in the same area.

But it's OK if this is a single data point among many.
 
Aug 17, 2020
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There are a couple different strategies, but they all boil down to contextualizing your interest with personal stories and specifics. You might be able to find the specifics about the lab by going through their website or their papers.

One way is to show your interest as a continuation of prior experience. For example, if you've worked on oncology research sometime in the past, writing this down might convey genuine interest. If you don't have prior experience though, your essay isn't dead in the water. Another way to accomplish this might be to show progression. If you worked at a clinic that saw a lot of cancer patients and realized that you want to tackle the issues they faced from the lab bench too - this could be an example of progression. Your essay portrays your (research) goal as a natural next step.

Keep in mind that you're not restricted to picking just one of the two strategies. For example, if I worked in a bacterial sequencing lab and saw a family member suffer from cancer that has a genetic factor, this might explain my interest in Dr. Shelly's oncogenomics lab. Breaking it down, there's continuity when it comes to the kind of research I'm doing (genomics) and progression that's explained by my experience.

I'm sure you've drawn on both these strategies in the past. I'm putting this out there because in my personal experience it's a lot easier to be deliberate about how I'm writing if I can describe and label the strategies I'm using. If that's your experience too, hopefully this will be helpful.
 
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