Guidelines for writing Research, Teaching and Service Statements

Your research, teaching and service statements are narrative statements that give a clear indication of what your contributions are in each area, what you value on these fronts, what you do about what you value, and where you are going next. The statements serve as a kind of doorway to your entire dossier. What you say in your statements should be clearly documented by evidence in your file, express enthusiasm about and commitment to your work, point toward successes you have achieved, be straightforward and well-organized, and avoid overly technical jargon.

It is useful to get senior colleagues/mentors in your department as well as people who do not know your discipline to read the statements before you submit them. You are writing for experts in your field at the same time as for naïve readers who may not really understand what you do. Your statements must be able to communicate to both audiences at the same time.

Research Statements
Your research statement should describe your research in ways someone not in your field can understand, clearly indicate your particular contributions to the discipline, and describe the impact of your research and why it is important. It should give a picture of your research trajectory and give context for the evidence in the dossier (such as publications, honors and awards, external letters, etc.). Reviewers want to see that you are not ‘finished’ at tenure time, but that you will continue to be a vibrant researcher after tenure, so your statement should also describe how you envision your next steps or future research endeavors.

Questions to Consider as you Develop your Research Statement
How did you get into your line of research? What got you interested in this field?

What is your research? How would you explain it to your mother, your partner, your sibling, your child?

What are the ‘themes’ or strands of your research—are there several or just one?

What’s important about your research (why should we care)?

What is particularly interesting to you about what you are studying? Why do you ask the questions you’re asking?

What are your specific and unique contributions to the field?

  • What new directions have you taken?
  • How is what you’re doing different from what your peers are doing (format, method, results)?
  • How are the results of your research useful to others? What difference have you made?

How do you know that your contributions are important? Who has recognized them, and how?

Where do your research interests overlap with your teaching and service activities?

Are there any oddities in your record? Anything that needs explanation to disciplinary peers? To non-disciplinary peers? How do these oddities influence your particular profile or trajectory?

What do you want to try next? What new research questions or directions are interesting to you?

Teaching Statements

Your teaching statement should explain your conception of teaching and learning, how you teach, and why you teach that way. It should demonstrate your enthusiasm and commitment to teaching, expressing your beliefs and values about teaching, learning, and students, and telling a “story” of your teaching including efforts to improve, changes over time and what you want to try next. It should point to evidence of your teaching success as well as address any disciplinary realities that might affect teaching and learning performance. It should describe what kind of classes you teach, explain what you do in the classroom at various levels and how you mentor and advise students, and discuss any curriculum development activities you are engaged in.

Questions to Consider as You prepare Your Teaching Statement

What’s your “story”?

  • Why are you engaged in this profession?
  • What do you love best about teaching—i.e., when is it most rewarding?

How do you want your students to change as a result of your classes?

  • What new things should they be able to do, say, and know?

Who are your students?

  • what are their strengths coming into your program?
  • what are their needs?
  • what are the challenges of teaching in your discipline?

How do students learn best?

  • What strategies do you employ to help them learn?
  • What does a typical class look like?
  • What do your assignments look like?

What’s your evidence that you are effective in getting students to learn?
What have you learned along the way?

  • How has what you’ve learned changed your teaching?
  • How can you document those changes?
  • What efforts have you made to improve your teaching?
  • How have you documented these efforts?

Where do you want to go now? What’s exciting in the future? What do you want to tackle next in your teaching?

Service Statements

Service statements explain your involvement and contributions to the University at the department, college, and/or university levels, in your profession (national, disciplinary service) and any involvement in community service that is related to your disciplinary expertise. Note that by tenure time, you may not have service at all three University levels. Likewise, depending on your discipline, you may or may not have performed community service. Community service you should document and describe may include service to practice settings (e.g. educational institutions, non-profit agencies, government agencies, the private sector, etc.) but must be directly related to your disciplinary focus.

Important: this is a narrative statement, not simply a list of committees or activities you have been involved in. The service statement should show how (and that) you have become positive contributor to the institution and your profession. You need to explain why you’ve chosen the types of service you do, describe the value of your service in the context of your other professional activities and discuss future plans related to service.

Questions to Consider as You prepare Your Service Statement

What kinds of service have you done at the department level? The College level? The University level?

  • Why did you choose these particular kinds of service over others? What do you value in them?

What kinds of service have you done in your profession?

  • Why did you choose these activities? Why do you value them?

What is your definition of “service” (in your profession, at the university)? Why should one do service?

How are your service activities connected to your research interests?

How are your service activities connected to your teaching interests?

What are common threads that run throughout your service activities—in what ways are these activities connected thematically or philosophically to one another?

What’s important about your service—what difference have you made, what has changed because of your work? How have your particular contributions helped the University? Your profession?

What would you like to continue doing? Why?

What do you want to try next? What new questions or service directions are interesting to you?