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Help (please) with paragraph for SOP

  • Thread starter bluechic92
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  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

Hey everyone,
I have written my entire statement and I happy with most of it.

The paragraph below, however, is troubling me. I am applying for CME, but I do not yet have a strong background. I discussed my research experience already, but it was in a different field. I am reading as much as I can about this field, but still I don't know enough to elaborate too much.

Is it alright so far? Thanks for any help or advice.

My fascination with quantum field theory led me to become more curious about its application to condensed matter, which then motivated me look into the variety of research in this field. I hope to strengthen my experimental skills as well as develop a better understanding of solid state physics and its applications. I am attracted by the many options and resources available to further my studies in physics at University X, and I believe the program here will provide me with a strong groundwork for this field. I would like to get experience with semiconductor physics and Professor B's work in this area matches strongly with my interest. Exploring problems in spintronics by Professor H and by Professor Y s also of particular interest to me.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Stephen Tashi
Science Advisor
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This is just wordsmithing advice. I don't know anything about condensed matter physics.

My fascination with quantum field theory led me to become more curious about its application to condensed matter, which then motivated me look into the variety of research in this field.
If the paragraph is supposed explain your intellectual history, then that's OK. If not, the above sentence is irrelevant.

I hope to strengthen my experimental skills as well as develop a better understanding of solid state physics and its applications.
Saying "hope to " is humble. Saying "want to" is more confident. Saying "plan to" is even more confident. I don't how you want to portray yourself.

I am attracted by the many options and resources available to further my studies in physics at University X
It goes without saying that you are attracted since you are applying. You could say something like "University X provides a strong program in .... "

, and I believe the program here will provide me with a strong groundwork for this field.
You should omit "I believe" from that sentence unless you want to raise the possiblity that the strength of the program is not a definite fact.

I would like to get experience with
"Want" is more concise that "would like to get". It might be better to say "learn more about" or "explore" than "get experience with" unless you don't have any experience.

semiconductor physics and Professor B's work in this area matches strongly with my interest. Exploring problems in spintronics by Professor H and by Professor Y s also of particular interest to me.
Saying "I am interested in Professor B's work and the investigations of Professor H and professor Y in spintronics" is a more active way to state your interest.
 
  • #3
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Thank you so much for the feedback! I'll work on editing that paragraph. Most of my statement is devoted to talking about my research experience and skills I have gained from it. I don't know too much about condensed matter experiment, so I am having a hard time discussing too much about why I want to do it. Essentially, I just think the research is interesting and aligns with my career goals.


If the paragraph is supposed explain your intellectual history, then that's OK. If not, the above sentence is irrelevant.
That sentence is a transition from the paragraph before this one.

I should have mentioned that my research experience was in high energy theory and I have zero experience with experiment. You are right that I should sound more confident! Thanks.
 
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  • #4
Stephen Tashi
Science Advisor
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Some general wordsmithing advice: Simplify your rough draft of sentences.

Your natural tendency is to use unnecessary clauses. I can spot this, because I have the same tendency. For example, instead of saying "John wore suspenders", I tend to write things like "I noticed that it was evident that John wore suspenders."

Use fewer adverbs and adjectives. Your above post counts as a rough draft, so we can take the example:

"I don't know too much about condensed matter experiment, so I am having a hard time discussing too much about why I want to do it. ".

You could omit some words from that sentence. For example:

"I don't know much about experimentatation with condensed matter, so I am having a hard time discussing why I want to do it."
 
  • #5
175
15
Some general wordsmithing advice: Simplify your rough draft of sentences.

Your natural tendency is to use unnecessary clauses. I can spot this, because I have the same tendency. For example, instead of saying "John wore suspenders", I tend to write things like "I noticed that it was evident that John wore suspenders."

Use fewer adverbs and adjectives. Your above post counts as a rough draft, so we can take the example:

"I don't know too much about condensed matter experiment, so I am having a hard time discussing too much about why I want to do it. ".

You could omit some words from that sentence. For example:

"I don't know much about experimentatation with condensed matter, so I am having a hard time discussing why I want to do it."
Thank you so much! I cannot believe I do this... I certainly do not talk that way. I guess I'm going to have a long night with SOP since the one for this school is due in two days :/


on the other hand? Do you think having just one paragraph devoting my interest to CME is okay?
 
  • #6
Stephen Tashi
Science Advisor
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1,244
Do you think having just one paragraph devoting my interest to CME is okay?
I can't advise you on that. I don't know what the document is supposed to contain.
 
  • #7
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Thank you for the reply!

The website says: "This document should outline your motivation for applying to our program and your goals for receiving your degree"
My statement basically looks like this:

My research experiences drive me to pursue physics for graduate studies. University X has a thriving research community in a variety of physics fields and it would be an ideal place to continue working towards my goals. I am mostly interested in studying topics in condensed matter, especially semiconductor physics, and I am convinced that X's program will provide me with a strong foundation to pursue a PhD in this field.

[My research experience+ relevant courses+what I am doing now]

[The paragraph you helped me with (above)]

I am excited about pursuing a PhD in physics and look forward to the opportunities that it opens doors to. I am confident that attending University X would provide the opportunity to not only learn more physics, but also, and most importantly, be able to work in an exciting research atmosphere alongside an exceptional group of people making valuable contributions to their respective fields.

*It's only 660 words because the website says although they let you do 2 pages, they prefer 1.
 
  • #8
175
15
Thank you for the reply!

The website says: "This document should outline your motivation for applying to our program and your goals for receiving your degree"
My statement basically looks like this:

My research experiences drive me to pursue physics for graduate studies. University X has a thriving research community in a variety of physics fields and it would be an ideal place to continue working towards my goals. I am mostly interested in studying topics in condensed matter, especially semiconductor physics, and I am convinced that X's program will provide me with a strong foundation to pursue a PhD in this field.

[My research experience+ relevant courses+what I am doing now]

[The paragraph you helped me with (above)]

I am excited about pursuing a PhD in physics and look forward to the opportunities that it opens doors to. I am confident that attending University X would provide the opportunity to not only learn more physics, but also, and most importantly, be able to work in an exciting research atmosphere alongside an exceptional group of people making valuable contributions to their respective fields.

*It's only 660 words because they prefer 1 page.

If I removed my experience+course paragraph, I would basically have only 240 words. Which I think might be too low, but it does address their question.
 
  • #9
Stephen Tashi
Science Advisor
7,023
1,244
The website says: "This document should outline your motivation for applying to our program and your goals for receiving your degree"
.

[My research experience+ relevant courses+what I am doing now]

[The paragraph you helped me with (above)]
Those topics are appropriate. Are you expected to say what you want to do with the degree once you have it ? - e.g. teach, do experimental research in academia , do research in industry.


I am excited about pursuing a PhD in physics and look forward to the opportunities that it opens doors to.
It is redundant to talk about "opening a door" to an oppotunity. That sentence has a "pro forma" sound to it. It would be better to be specific. Say that you look forward to doing something specific - but not so specific that you risk describing it with the wrong terminology!

I am confident that attending University X would provide the opportunity to not only learn more physics, but also, and most importantly, be able to work in an exciting research atmosphere alongside an exceptional group of people making valuable contributions to their respective fields.
I'd omit "I am confident that" and, for the sake of optimism, say "will provide" instead of "would provide". That sentence is transparently flattering to the university. A better form of flattery would be more specific. I don't know about the program, so I can't suggest the specifics to mention. "Work alongside" is a genuine expression of your motivation. However, if the lab is looking for labor, it would be more effective to speak of "contributing", "assisting" or "learning from".

*It's only 660 words because the website says although they let you do 2 pages, they prefer 1.
That's good motivation to be concise and specific!
 
  • #10
175
15
It is redundant to talk about "opening a door" to an oppotunity. That sentence has a "pro forma" sound to it. It would be better to be specific. Say that you look forward to doing something specific - but not so specific that you risk describing it with the wrong terminology!

I'd omit "I am confident that" and, for the sake of optimism, say "will provide" instead of "would provide". That sentence is transparently flattering to the university. A better form of flattery would be more specific. I don't know about the program, so I can't suggest the specifics to mention. "Work alongside" is a genuine expression of your motivation. However, if the lab is looking for labor, it would be more effective to speak of "contributing", "assisting" or "learning from".
Thanks for these suggestions! I'll work on editing the conclusion! I'm not sure if I want to get into discussing what I want to do with the PhD because I am not completely sure. To be honest, I am pursuing CME because it seems to have more opportunities relating to physics ( industry as well as academia).
I know I want the PhD, regardless, because I want a research oriented job. I love research!
 
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