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Admissions Citations and References in Statement of Purpose

Hey! Applying for physics PhD programs this fall and thinking about my statement. There's some really specific experiments/work being done I'm interested in. Is it acceptable if I put a few citations down? Such as: "I'm really in interested in tests of yada yada[1] and experiments such as blah blah[2]." I looked it up online and there's no consensus really on what's best. Hopefully y'all have more insight!
 
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Usually the purpose of citations is to direct the reader to a source of additional information. If you're talking about research already happening at the university you're applying to, the committee members will already be familiar, so I'm not sure there's a need for citations.

As a side note, some grad school apps have a REALLY annoying system where they require you to paste your statement of purpose into a text box, and not upload a PDF. So you'll lose all formatting there anyway.
 

Dr. Courtney

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I'm always impressed by students who have read my papers and know which papers inspired my work.

But my BS detector is pretty good to, and I can usually tell if students are blowing smoke.
 
Thank you all! This is very helpful.
 

boneh3ad

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If you're talking about research already happening at the university you're applying to, the committee members will already be familiar, so I'm not sure there's a need for citations.
This just tells me you haven't spent any time as a faculty member. I'd say that the average faculty member probably has a cursory understanding of the the work of maybe 50-75% of the research groups in in their own department, and has a more solid grasp on maybe 25-50%. Academic researchers are often living in silos.

I do fluid mechanics research. One of the prominent fluids faculty in my own department hadn't even seen or shown interest in seeing my new wind tunnel until he got word that the university president was visiting, at which point he showed up to learn more about what I was doing.

But my BS detector is pretty good to, and I can usually tell if students are blowing smoke.
This is a pretty important point. If you are citing a professor's work, they are obviously very familiar with it and can usually tell pretty easily whether you actually read the paper or just skimmed it.
 

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