How to write a good Statement of Purose (SOP)?

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Shampa
Shampa's picture
How to write a good Statement of Purose (SOP)?

I want to request the members of SS to post as a reply with details of the SOP as what are the things that are expected my professors and selectors in a SOP? And also if possible kindly also attach a demo piece of SOP. This would be a great help to all of us, students!

Ivan Delgado
Ivan Delgado's picture
Hi Shampa,

Hi Shampa,
My first advice is not to try to come up with a standard way of writing a statement of purpose. Every individual (professor, funding agency, etc) will have a different view point of what a statement of purpose is. In the case of a funding agency you want to make it very clear and to the point (it should be obvious how you will use the money and how your experiments will attempt to answer your question). 
In  your case I assume you are looking for a statement of purpose for your project. This is your opportunity to be creative and come up with an innovate idea. What do you really want to do? Being a scientist, among other things, is to be creative and original. You of course need to show that you understand the concepts; yet, at the same time this is all about you learning something new. In short, I recommend you not to try to fit your ideas into a set standard and instead come up with your own way of expressing yourself.
By the way, SOP stands for Standard Operating Procedure. While you may call a statement of purpose an SOP, that to me sounds a little out of place. As I tried to express above, a statement of purpose should not be something standard or formatted. Not an SOP. Be creative. Make it personal (it should express who you are). Be unique. Enjoy it.

Monu
Monu's picture
Ivan is right in his approach

Ivan is right in his approach but I am also applying for various PhD studentships in US and other countries where they ask for SOP (statement of purpose). Ivan if you help, please do post your reply.

Ivan Delgado
Ivan Delgado's picture
Hi Monu,

Hi Monu,
Let me just reiterate what I said before: do not try to find a recipe on how to write a statement of purpose. I've been in PhD recruitment committees where I had to go through over 100 applications (mostly international) to identify around 5 candidates to send offers to. Due to the large number of applicants, all very capable and with very good credentials, you end up looking for things that differentiate one from the others. If you write a statement of purpose that starts the same way as dozens of others, that will likely earn you a place in the unselected pile.
The statement of purpose is your rare chance to distinguish yourself from the rest. Be creative, be different. Think out of the box. Try to tell a story that makes the reader want to read it. Establish a conversation. If I were to tell you to write this many paragraphs, say this in the first paragraph, make sure to say that in the middle paragraph, don't forget to mentioned this, this and this, all I would be doing is giving you a ticket to being overlooked.
While I strongly discourage you to follow a structure, if you really want one you can follow the examples below. Also, a Google search will bring up a ton of websites that give very similar advice.
All the best
1. WikiHow
2. Butler University (the first place I went to a scientific meeting)
3. Caltech (one of the best research institutions)