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Write better Research Statements

August 13, 2011

Short clear sentences work so much better. (e.g. “The student of the professor on the balcony is happy.” Is the student or professor “on the balcony”?)

Be sure you want all the combinatorics implied by compound sentences. Compound sentences can generate a large number of simple semantic assertions. For example, “Joe, Jane, and bob bought a car, played the saxophone, did cartwheels, and went home.” Becomes 12 simple sentences:
1.    Jane bought a car.
2.    Jane did cartwheels.
3.    Jane played the saxophone.
4.    Jane went home.
5.    Joe bought a car.
6.    Joe did cartwheels.
7.    Joe played the saxophone.
8.    Joe went home.
9.    Robert bought a car.
10.    Robert did cartwheels.
11.    Robert played the saxophone.
12.    Robert went home.

Now try, “Joe and Jane bought and sold a car and truck.”, which become 8 simple sentences:
1.    Jane bought a car.
2.    Jane bought a truck.
3.    Jane sold a car.
4.    Jane sold a truck.
5.    Joe bought a car.
6.    Joe bought a truck.
7.    Joe sold a car.
8.    Joe sold a truck.

Fewer words are better, for example, “Joe will fly to the store and shop.” which semantically becomes:
1.    Joe will fly to the store. (fly to a place)
2.    Joe will fly to the shop. (fly to a place)
3.    Joe will fly to shop. (fly and then do some shopping)
4.    Joe will shop. (not necessarily connected with flying to the store)

We will post more on this topic later.

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