Are you almost ready to be done with these statements??? Trust me when I say I know the feeling!!
Well, hopefully at this point you have gone through at least a few drafts of each statement (Personal vs. Research). As you complete rough drafts, you want to make sure that you keep getting in-depth feedback from key mentors. Since the people writing your letters can make a much more convincing argument for you if they understand what points you are making in your statements, it is important to make sure that they are the main editors you are referring to. Having too many different readers, who provide a variety of different suggestions, can make the process of completing these statements much more challenging. Also, remember that as professors and professionals, your letter writers are very busy, so be sure to give them enough time (at least two weeks) to review your statements. When you get your statements back and they are full of red marks, don’t fret, but rather be grateful that your advocates have addressed something you’ve written that they don’t think will benefit you in your statements and incorporate their suggestions. The hardest aspect of writing the statements for me, was separating what was substantive from what was fluff. Sometimes we think that a part of our background is super important to our future in our respective disciplines, but in reality it does not directly apply to our interests or the theme of our statement(s), and may distract the reader from the strongest aspects of our application.
It is also important to note that not all applications for grad school and grants require the same format for statements. Some schools require a statement that combines you research with your biography. In this case, it is important that you are able to create a common thread throughout your statement that connects your personal experiences with your proposed area(s) of research. How do your personal experiences connect to your interests in your discipline? How does it inform your research? What have you done professionally and personally that shows that you would make a successful graduate student and future leader in your field? These are some of the key points that you want to make sure you address in the combined statement form.
And whether doing a combined statement or separate statements, make sure not to repeat yourself. This again can cause serious distractions for the reviewers and limit your ability to get across that you are a competitive applicant for their program.
Below is a link to IU writing tutorial services on a brief introduction to writing statements: http://www.indiana.edu/~wts/pamphlets/personal_statements.shtml
But there are also many good references online for both statements as well as how to merge the two when both statements are submitted as a combined statement.