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Dumb question of the day here...


Macrina
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How do you figure out research interests of academics you've never met? I find that most of the websites and publications lists don't always seem to reflect current research so much as previous interests. Are there other places to look that will give more current info?

And how did you pick out your POIs? I'm trying to broaden my field for applications next fall and it seems very overwhelming :(

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1.  Have a clear idea of what your emphasis will be.  This does not require a dissertation topic but does mean being much more specific than New Testament, Hebrew Bible, systematic theology, or Church history.  For example,  Late ancient Judaism and Christian origins, and more specifically, "forms of Jewish/Gentile self-identification in late antiquity," or, "the interaction between official and folk religion in the development of late ancient Diasporic Judaism."  

2.  Start researching for your writing sample, which ideally should reflect your proposed emphasis, and compile an extensive bibliography.

3.  Among the most recent sources for your paper that you find the most compelling, find out where these scholars teach.  In my case, Matthias Henze at Rice University, Ra'anan Boustan at UCLA,  Prof. Annette Reed at Penn, Pamela Eisenbaum at Iliff, and Mark Chancey at Southern Methodist were among my top choices.  Chancey was not taking any students this year, so there was an automatic rejection.  Move on.  

4.  At the same time, once you have a clear emphasis and representative scholars, check known programs for professors that also fit this bill.

5.  Develop familiarity with the work of every POI, so that you can demonstrate this in both your SOP and writing sample.  I think a big reason for some of my rejections is that my writing sample was not totally relevant to my research interests.

6.  Compile a big list of POIs and schools, as people on this forum can attest that rejections are more common than acceptances in most cases.  You need to expand your possibilities.  All you need is one to say yes.  

 

Hope this helps 

Edited by awells27
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How do you figure out research interests of academics you've never met? I find that most of the websites and publications lists don't always seem to reflect current research so much as previous interests. Are there other places to look that will give more current info?

And how did you pick out your POIs? I'm trying to broaden my field for applications next fall and it seems very overwhelming :(

 

I think this is a great question that I have thought about. I've read books from potential POIs from 20 years ago, as well as within the last 5 years - but these are obviously not their current research areas. And, from what I've been reading, we shouldn't necessarily discuss their research from 20 years ago in our SOP - even though, in my case, the book from 20 years ago overlaps greatly with some of my interests.

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How do you figure out research interests of academics you've never met? I find that most of the websites and publications lists don't always seem to reflect current research so much as previous interests. Are there other places to look that will give more current info?

And how did you pick out your POIs? I'm trying to broaden my field for applications next fall and it seems very overwhelming :(

 

In addition to what's already been said, many professors upload their papers (both newer and older stuff) on academia.edu ...

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Thanks. I've tried that, but i know of current publications that aren't showing up.

 

In that case try other databases. I often find things on NT Abstracts and OT Abstracts omitted by ATLA. The same goes for the Jewish Studies database that my university subscribes to (can't remember the exact title). I don't know what your sub-discipline is, but there is probably something other than ATLA that you can try.  

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