Faculty scoop: How do you evaluate a Statement of Interest?

We’ve reached out to faculty members across disciplines and asked them how they evaluate a Statement of Interest (SOI). Here’s what they had to say: 

Clear indication that one knows the field. For MA and PhD, clear purpose of research (e.g., research questions, which can be modified later, but something concrete at this point), theoretical framework, and methodology. – Professor in Education

Interesting, creative ideas. Real world experience in something I'm interested in.

Excitement about something that I, too, am excited about. I look for evidence of intelligence, competence, and productivity. – Professor in Neuroscience

They have a track record of interest/activity in the area. They have demonstrated ability to publish and get scholarships/grants. They have done their homework on my program (demonstrate enough details of my work that I know it is genuine and not a form letter). – Professor in Population and Public Health

I'm looking for a well-formulated question or articulation of the area of interest. I'm also looking for some sign that the student is making a connection with archival science. A SOI of interest that is logically structured and well-written is something that I would look for, as well as the spark of creativity. – Professor in Library and Information Studies

Overall clarity in the applicant's interest and narrative, Relevant and key work/life experiences presented in a coherent way. Interesting ideas proposed in the SOI, including a demonstration of how the work connects to society, research, and the person's professional goals/settings. – Professor in Education

I look for the applicant's "story" of who they are and why the want to attend graduate school. They need to 'paint' a picture of what they've done, personally and professionally, since undergraduate school. Their application should provide me with a rich background of where they are in their career journey, and why they are ready to continue on with that journey in our program. – Professor in Nursing