Time to Re-Think the Scientific CV

Written by: Chris Woolston
Published on: Apr 29, 2022

science CV
Photo credit: wladimir1804/Adobe Stock

In December 2021, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the largest public funder of UK science, announced that it was abandoning the use of the conventional CV — curriculum vitae — in funding applications. The funding body said it would adopt a new type of CV to “enable people to better demonstrate their contributions to research, teams, and wider society”.

As institutions and funders around the world reassess their approach to researcher evaluations, there’s a growing call to revamp the academic CVs used to support applications for jobs, funding, promotions and awards. Researchers need to find fresh ways to document their accomplishments and value beyond a mere listing of publications, and committees overseeing promotions and grants need to change their protocols and expectations, says Needhi Bhalla, a cell biologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz. “CVs should reflect the authentic experience of being a scientist,” she says, including mentorship, work on committees, outreach and many other contributions that don’t result in publications. “I’m excited that we’re in the process of rethinking them.”

CVs have long been part of the currency of scientific promotion. Scientists seeking a position or a grant often feel obliged to list every publication, presentation and award in a single document intended to sway committees through its sheer length and volume. The typical CV follows a time-worn template, says Robert Morrell, an education researcher and former director of the New Generation of Academics Programme at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. “ ‘I was born, I went to school here, I had these publications, these are the students I graduated.’ People who write CVs like that are missing the boat.”

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