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Personal statement for PhD

(15 Posts)
Sofabitch Mon 19-Dec-16 22:55:31

How long should this be? All the guides I'm reading seem to estimate them around 400/500 words. But on the application the personal statement section says 2500 word limit. Is it going to look crazy if I write a personal statement that long? Or do you think this university requires a long personal statement ?

I really want this PhD and don't want to fall at the first hurdle.

AnneEtAramis Tue 20-Dec-16 19:49:39

You should follow the guidelines of each university I would have thought. My university asks for a short PS but then a lengthier overview of the research topic etc.

StripedTulip Wed 21-Dec-16 09:47:14

From the arts & humanities pov:

We ask for around 1,000 words. It should include:

research questions - what do you want to find out?
research methods - how will you do this?
primary materials you'll work with - with what?
research context - what's the shape of the field already?

Join up research qq and research context to show how yo've identified a gap in the field which your research will fill.

Then some information about why you're the person to do it.

Remember also we'll be looking at the quality of your writing. A PhD is a research task, but it's also a writing task - 80,000 words of writing.

MedSchoolRat Wed 21-Dec-16 19:55:21

omg, 500words is one side of A4. Who will read more than 2 sides?

Technically I would ring someone to clarify what is acceptable/desirable. But otherwise, max 2 full pages.

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Wed 21-Dec-16 20:06:25

Apart from the topic itself, you need to convince them that 1. You have the skills to do the research 2. You are serious about it and will see it through - universities are judged on their completion rates.
If they want 2500 words that probably includes the stuff about the research question as well, and why that particular department and supervisor, how your research interests will link in with the existing researchers in the place. It's a bit different from the statement you write when you're applying for undergraduate because there is a lot more you can say about both yourself and the subject. It might well be that they do expect you to use all the words.

Sofabitch Wed 21-Dec-16 21:19:01

Thank you. I've clarified and 2500 words it is. It was actually incredibly easy to write 2000 words. Which was where I decided to leave it.

The other university I am considering applying to only wants the more standard 500 which now ironically feels much harder.

Now I just have to try not to talk myself out of it before submitting! I must be insane to be even considering this with 4 children right!

melan88 Thu 22-Dec-16 16:23:23

@MedSchoolRat doubt anyone would read more than one paragraph..that's why many say the first paragraph is the most important..if you 'hook' the committee, you are in..remember one of my classmates going to great length with wiring a personal statement..she tried hemingwayapp and then went to try ultius to proofread what;s already was proofread..still in the end she didn't get in..anyways just follow the guidelines and make sure the first two paragraphs would make the committee want to read the whole thing and don't get overly crazy about it and overdo it..best

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Thu 22-Dec-16 17:10:22

When I was a PhD admissions tutor we most definitely read the whole thing.

Perhaps it depends how many qualified applicants there are likely to be, but I don't think this is equivalent to the kind of application process where there are hundreds and you need a sound bite to grab the attention of the assessors. Nothing wrong with a punchy first paragraph but I would have been put off by someone not appearing to have a sufficiently detailed grasp of the subject so I would be wary of making it too short.

DownAmongtheElves Thu 22-Dec-16 18:23:11

Of course we read the whole thing. We'd be poor at our jobs not to.

Sofabitch Fri 23-Dec-16 12:38:33

I'd hope they read the whole thing! It's not like an undergraduate degree. It's a significant commitment.

Thank you all for the advice.

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 28-Dec-16 17:02:54

Of course we read the whole thing! It's not as if you get masses of PhD applications anyway - you're not trawling through thousands of them.

Sofabitch Sat 18-Mar-17 19:27:42

I have an interview! 7 other candidates and I'm the only one without a masters!

Feeling like it's going to be super hard to get!

Foureyesarebetterthantwo Sat 18-Mar-17 19:35:38

Good luck! Is it for a 1+ 3 with attached Masters? If not, then you are right, it's harder without one, on the other hand, you must have compelling results/experience to get this far. Also, it's not over til it's over, sometimes students apply for more than one PhD and I've gone down to a 3rd or 4th candidate as others have dropped out. Hope it goes ok.

Sofabitch Sat 18-Mar-17 19:40:52

No this is a direct entry Ph.D!

I did apply for a 3+1 and didn't even get an interview, a friend of mine got and interview and despite it being a 3+1 all the successful candidates had Masters!

I really hope being a mature student comes across as an advantage. But that I'm not too old that they think its too late for me grin

Sofabitch Sat 01-Apr-17 08:55:51

So I had my interview yesterday, it went pretty well I feel.

The interview slots were 10 minute presentation plus a 30 minute interview, but my interview was almost 80 minutes. So I'm not sure if that is good or bad!

Anyway I hear back in the next couple of weeks. So fingers crossed!

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