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on a lack of research experience and who I would like to work with

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1. I have a background in liberal arts and will be applying to other liberal arts programs (cultural studies, rhetoric/communications, gender & sexuality studies) BUT I have no research experience. Will this hurt my chances of getting accepted? Do I mention in my PS/SOP why I don't have research experience or is this of no consequence to the types of programs I am entering?

 

2. What if, in some cases, I am interested in working with faculty who are not core in the department I am applying to but rather affiliated with that department and core in another (which I am not really qualified for or experienced with)?

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What do you mean by "research"? Have you ever written a paper with an original(ish) argument based on some set of primary and secondary sources? Or have you just done assignment-type essays, responding to prompts like "please compare Text A and Text B and how they relate to the themes of this course"?

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You definitely do not want to spend your SOP talking about why you don't have research experience. You want to focus on the research you want to do as a graduate student and the skills you are bringing to the table to do that research. If you've done a research paper, interviewed people, conducted an analysis, etc., then you do have research experience. Good luck!

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Mention people in the department and definitely people outside but connected to the department who you're interested in working with. It shows you've done your research on how you fit with the program and the university.

You should emphasize any relevant experience, research or otherwise, that connects to your field. I would focus on what you want to research at the graduate level--even if you don't have much research experience, it shows you've thought about what grad school is and where you see yourself going once you're in a program. I would also demonstrate knowledge of whatever methodological approaches that are crucial to your field, and try to figure out any trends in your field that may be important to your research. Show that you've thought about the specialties of your potential advisers and how it connects with your future research.

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Are you applying to masters or PhD programs?

PhD programs.

 

 

 

What do you mean by "research"? Have you ever written a paper with an original(ish) argument based on some set of primary and secondary sources? Or have you just done assignment-type essays, responding to prompts like "please compare Text A and Text B and how they relate to the themes of this course"?

 

I have written a majority of original papers throughout my coursework. Just no lab or field research really, I have not gathered an original sample from a population and conducted research on them. I work with a lot of text and theory. Putting different people's work into a conversation with each other.

 

 

 

 

You definitely do not want to spend your SOP talking about why you don't have research experience. You want to focus on the research you want to do as a graduate student and the skills you are bringing to the table to do that research. If you've done a research paper, interviewed people, conducted an analysis, etc., then you do have research experience. Good luck!

 

Great, thanks for your input! Glad to feel like I have research experience now :)

 

 

Mention people in the department and definitely people outside but connected to the department who you're interested in working with. It shows you've done your research on how you fit with the program and the university.

You should emphasize any relevant experience, research or otherwise, that connects to your field. I would focus on what you want to research at the graduate level--even if you don't have much research experience, it shows you've thought about what grad school is and where you see yourself going once you're in a program. I would also demonstrate knowledge of whatever methodological approaches that are crucial to your field, and try to figure out any trends in your field that may be important to your research. Show that you've thought about the specialties of your potential advisers and how it connects with your future research.

 

Fantastic insight, thank you for your feedback. This is helpful!

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I have written a majority of original papers throughout my coursework. Just no lab or field research really, I have not gathered an original sample from a population and conducted research on them. I work with a lot of text and theory. Putting different people's work into a conversation with each other.

 

Yea, no one's really expecting undergrads to have gathered an original sample from a population and done research on (btw, you might want to consider doing research *with* people, rather than "on" them depending on the direction your research is going) them. Working with text and theory is a valuable skill to have and it's something not all undergraduates can do. This is the experience you need to capitalize on in your application.

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There are some great threads here about reaching out to profs you want to work with before you begin to draft your SoP. You might want to start contacting them soon. The last thing you want in your SoP is to mention names of profs who are in the process of retiring, moving to a different university, taking a leave next year, etc. 

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Programs in WGST/GS/Women's Studies don't do subject-based research, for the most part. The work these departments do is just like in an English department, and most of the faculty will probably be housed in that field. Rhetoric does do more human subject research, but it's rare to do that before the master's level. None of the fields you mentioned do "lab" work. You'll be fine on that end.

 

The evidence of "research" you would present would be conferences you've presented at. Writing papers for courses wouldn't be evidence of independent research, but you could use that in your writing sample.

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...Why would you need to have worked in a lab and collected an original sample from the population if that's not, you know, what people in your field do? I mean, that's like learning to dunk  in order to make the swimming team.

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