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Citations in statement of purpose


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Is it a good idea to cite scholarly writings in the statement of purpose? And if so, does the included bibliography count toward the 2-page (or whatever) limit?

If the citation works perfectly within the context of explaining your own goals as a graduate student, then it's OK to use it. Rather than a bibliography, I would footnote this - they already have enough paper to shuffle through. I would also keep any citation(s) employed as brief as possible - the statement of purpose ultimately has to be about you and your work.

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I agree with Medievalmaniac. If a citation comes naturally within the flow, I think that's when you should use it.

I personally include two citations in my SoP. Here were the instances when I used them

-In my third paragraph I discuss my interest in a particular theoretical approach and, then, say that it was a breakthrough moment when I realized "theory X has blah potential when used as 'citation'". It's a brief three-word statement, but it's central to my overall approach and connected to a groundbreaking article in my field. Footnote 1.

-In the paragraph where I go into detail about my proposed research, I say that I want to work in particular field A which often deals with...let's say horses. So, I want to turn to horses in my research, but particularly "'contemplative' horses", where contemplative is a new descriptor coined by an influential article in that field. I almost left this footnote out because I figured, by now if someone is working in the field they've heard talk of this particular way of describing horses. But, I decided not to risk it...Footnote 2.

And I put them in 8 font and am not counting them in my overall word count.

In short, don't force it if you don't need it.

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