Communicating research impact in academic CVs
CV, an abbreviation for the Latin curriculum vitae, meaning “course of (one’s) life”, presents a detailed summary of academic background and degrees, job experience, research, publications, presentations and lectures, honours, and other accomplishments (Rogers). You may need it for job searching, awards, fellowships, funding applications, tenure review and more.
Below are the typical sections you can find in an academic CV:
- Personal Information.
- Research Interests.
- Awards and Funding.
- Research Experience.
- Teaching Experience.
- Administration Experience.
- Relevant Training.
- Relevant research/technical/laboratory skills.
- Professional memberships.
- Conference presentations and posters.
New to you? Check-out these pages for tips and guides on academic CVs:
- Academic Application – Academic CVs by Oxford University Careers Service
- Writing an effective academic CV by Elsevier
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A conventional academic CV presents your publications in detail, such as books, book chapters, peer-reviewed journal articles, reports, patents, and more. It can be a lot longer than non-academic CVs, which are suggested to be kept to 1-2 full pages.
Discussions are raised to revamp the academic CVs (Woolston, 2022). While conventional academic CVs focus on performance indicators, such as the number of publications and impact factors of the journals, new CVs emphasize quality over quantity, and include narratives about the broader impact. Advocates present a new focus on “activities and outputs that are relevant” (Strinzel et al., 2021). Researchers should, instead of including an exhaustive lists of publications and presentations, list a few meaningful publications that evaluators could realistically take the time to read and appreciate.
In December 2021, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the largest public funder of UK science, announced to abandon the use of the conventional CV in funding applications and adopt a new type of CV to “enable people to better demonstrate their contributions to research, teams, and wider society” (UK Research and Innovation, 2021). It modelled its new CV format on Résumé for Researchers, introduced in 2019 by The Royal Society in London. The structured narrative document guides researchers to present outputs and achievements, such as publications, funding and awards, in the broader context of their activities (The Royal Society).
Similar initiatives have also been unveiled by research councils in Luxembourg. The Luxembourg National Research Fund introduced its narrative CV model in 2021, with an aim to allow an applicant to be more fairly evaluated on their vision, appropriate experience, and contributions to science and society. The narrative CVs allow room for narratives — brief statements that tell a story about a researcher, their achievements and contributions to science, especially those do not fit conventional CVs.
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Let’s take a look at The Royal Society’s Résumé for Researchers. This CV model is a narrative-based document with the following structure:
Provide your personal details, your education, key qualifications and relevant positions you have held.
MODULE 1 – How have you contributed to the generation of knowledge?
MODULE 2 – How have you contributed to the development of individuals?
MODULE 3 – How have you contributed to the wider research community?
MODULE 4 – How have you contributed to broader society?
Provide a personal statement that reflects on your overarching goals and motivation for the activities in which you have been involved.
Mention career breaks, secondments, volunteering, part-time work and other relevant experience (including in time spent in different sectors) that might have affected your progression as a researcher.
(Excerpted from Résumé for Researchers, The Royal Society)
In this narrative CV, the four-module narrative section has a suggested total word limit of 1000 over two pages, with the researcher deciding how to distribute that across the modules.
If you are looking for some examples on writing a narrative CV, below are some excerpts from the narrative CVs of successful applicants to the Luxembourg National Research Fund in 2021 (Woolston, 2022).
“Alongside scientific goals, I also follow leadership ones. A four-day professional leadership course and three months of personal coaching in 2020 taught me to reflect on myself, develop my scientific vision and learn about key attributes of successful teams. I also sent my postdocs on similar courses. As a result, my team is extremely productive, with two manuscripts at the submission stage only 2.5 years after the launch of my own group.”
“I give regular talks at foundations, charity clubs and student associations, telling young people about scientific research and new therapeutic avenues in cancer. I also regularly write for national newspapers, again to transfer my passion for research to younger people.”
“I invest in the development of individuals and build up a strong team spirit by regularly taking leadership and conflict-management courses. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I put into practice various ideas on remote leadership and team communication.”
“I made a 52-minute documentary about contemporary psychiatry in my country, together with a visual anthropologist and a local production company. We worked as care assistants on a ward for three months before introducing a camera. The film proved to be a stimulating exercise in public engagement.”
It’s currently not clear whether the new narrative CV will become the norm in recruiting exercises or funding applications. But this might be an opportunity for you to re-think your CV and start building your standout narrative CV.
See the following pages to learn more about narrative CVs:
- Résumé for Researchers by The Royal Society
- Narrative-style CV template by Luxembourg National Research Fund
- Narrative CV: Implementation and feedback results by Luxembourg National Research Fund
Rogers, K. What’s the Difference Between a Résumé and a CV? In Encyclopedia Britannica.
Strinzel, M., Brown, J., Kaltenbrunner, W., de Rijcke, S., & Hill, M. (2021). Ten ways to improve academic CVs for fairer research assessment. Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, 8(1), 251. https://doi.org/10.1057/s41599-021-00929-0
The Royal Society. Résumé for Researchers. Retrieved 5 July 2022 from https://royalsociety.org/topics-policy/projects/research-culture/tools-for-support/resume-for-researchers/
UK Research and Innovation. (2021). UKRI introduces new Resume for Research and Innovation. Retrieved 5 July 2022 from https://www.ukri.org/news/ukri-launches-new-resume-for-research-and-innovation/
Woolston, C. (2022). Time to rethink the scientific CV. Nature, 604(7904), 203-205.