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Scott4775

Research experience...even though it's not relevent??

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Hi everyone,

I am wanting to pursue graduate school in sociology, and was planning on commencing with the process a while back, until I had to put that on hiatus for a while to attend to some personal matters. That may have been a blessing in disguise, because I have a question regarding the relevancy of research experience for the applications.

You see, while it took me a while to find my niche in college (i.e., I switched majors more than a few times), I was a geology major prior to finding my home in the sociology department. While my research experience in sociology has been limited to the work I did in a senior seminar, I do have some experience performing independent research in geology in an upper-level course geared toward analytical techniques.

I know that there may be some ostensible methodological differences between social science research and physical science research, but does anyone think that having this experience would be pertinent for an application to a sociology department? I don't think they're going to care much about XRD and XRF analysis and all that other technical stuff, but could I use in my application to showcase how I have performed an independent research project, even though it is obviously not related to my graduate school/career aspirations?

Thank you for the feedback!

Edited by Scott4775

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I would definitely include it! I think it's fine to have it just in your CV, as I do think all research experience is relevant, but you might also mention it very briefly in your SOP if you're very concerned about it. Just something to put it in perspective for adcomms, like "While my interest in research was first sparked in X lab, it was in Y lab that I realized my passion for Y".

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To some degree, any research experience is good research experience. While the exact methodologies and techniques wouldn't always carry across fields, many of the less specific details would. The ability to collect and synthesize data, how to design studies to answer questions, searching and reviewing literature, etc.

Just focus on the more general abilities in your SoP. Focus on the skills you gained (learning how to run an independent research project), more than the details of your research. Then segue into why you're interested in switching to sociology, your specific interests, etc.

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Thank you for replies; this is very helpful information.

I agree with what you both have said. I believe that I was looking at the experience rather cursory and in the process, overlooked how there are methodologies that transcend disciplinary boundaries. I could certainly utilize the less ostensible aspects, such as data acquisition and analysis, and writing research proposals (among other things), rather than the detailed idiosyncrasies which would hold no relevancy in the social sciences.

Thanks again!

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I agree that you should include it on your CV at least. It shows that you are adaptable to other types of research. Also, many SOC applicants have a lot of qualitative research, so it is especially good to show that you can do numerical data-based analyses.

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