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References in the SoP?

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In putting together my SoP (SoPs really, since I'm tailoring them to the schools I am applying to), I mention results from specific papers and I am wondering if I should have the references at the end of my SoP. I haven't seen this in any sample SoPs I've come across and I'm wondering what would be the best way of handling this. Thanks in advance for any help.

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When I showed my SOP to one of my professors, he said it'd look good to cite a paper or two in my SOP. I had never heard of this before, but apparently he's seen it and thinks it's a good thing to have. He's an older/more respected prof who's been around for a while, too, so it's not some whippersnapper throwing these ideas at me.

Honestly, I'm still a bit cautious about citing in my SOP, but I also think it depends on the word limit. Obviously for the shorter ones I don't want to go too in-depth with something and make it too long, but I might go a little more in-depth for the SOPs that have longer limits.

I haven't seen it in any sample SOPs either. Another prof also suggested to me that I could actually break up my SOP into sections and label each part with a heading. Basically, both profs told me this: you want to (1) let them know your potential/knowledge/etc and (2) make anything easier for the committee, when possible. I think citing a little bit would fulfill both (1) and (2). So yeah, I think it'd be okay.

PS: I'm in earth sci, if that makes any difference. Maybe this is also field-dependent?

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Thanks for your reply. I'm thinking that the references I made do not necessarily need to be cited since they are pretty well known in the field and certainly the PoI would know exactly what I'm referring. I've also heard of putting the SoP in sections to make for easy reading by the adcomm, but what I am going to do is to bold the important points, such as my interests and profs I'm interested in working with.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I realize this is a post from a while ago and that the original poster has decided what to do but I wanted to comment on references in the SoP more generally for people who are wandering the forum looking for advise/ideas:

I am using two references in my SoP: one that has a title that succulently explains the article's theoretical claim and one that is a direct motivation for an improvement in my current research design as I moved from first year project to my Master's thesis. The first saves space in my SoP by using the author's words to write out their position rather than me paraphrasing it as my first year project was directly motivated by said claim. The second is showing how I am capable of integrating the latest ideas and research into my own work (and allows me to directly cite two POIs!).

I am including the in text citation, but I am not including the full reference at the end of my SoP. The work I am citing is recent work that my POI's will most likely be aware of. If for some reason they are not, the in text citation will be enough for them to find the papers should they want to know more beyond what I say about them in the SoP.

If citing research does work for you, I would say definitely cite. Like in a research article, superfluous citations should not be included - they are distracting rather than helpful. But a well placed reference/citation can augment your writing and convey the the adcomm/POI that you know what you are talking about while showing that you have some scientific writing skill.

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