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Bibliometrics & Responsible Research Evaluation: Narrative CVs

Learn how to track citations to your research and the limitations of using bibliometric indicators

What is a Narrative CV

A narrative CV, gives you the opportunity to provide a structured written description of a researchers key achievements and contributions that reflect a wide range of skills and experiences. In a series of structured paragraphs, you outline a concise overview of your contributions to the field of knowledge, research area and society as a whole. The point of a narrative CV is to focus on key achievements over productivity.

*** Increasingly funders are requesting the use of “narrative CVs” ***

To irradicate overreliance on metrics and proxies as measures for excellence more funders now require narrative CVs as part of the application process – including SFI, the IRC, HRB, ERC and UKRI.

The Narrative CV can be worth 30-50% of the award’s assessment criteria

How to write a narrative CV

A narrative CV gives you the opportunity to:

  • Outline your key achievements in a series of structured paragraphs
  • Provide a concise overview of your contributions to the field of knowledge, research area and society as a whole
  • Position yourself as the ideal candidate or awardee for the grant or possible promotion you are applying for
  • Highlight your individual strengths

 

There is no universal template or structure for creating narrative CVs, but many losely follow the style of the Royal Society’s Résumé for Researchers which includes:

  • Personal details (your education, key qualifications and relevant positions you have held).
  • Generation of knowledge.
  • Development of individuals.
  • Supporting broader society and the economy.
  • Supporting the research community.
  • Personal statement (your goals and motivation).
  • Additions (mention career breaks, secondments, volunteering and any other relevant experience including time in other sectors that might be relevant). 

 

Choosing key achievements:

  • Reflect on the full breadth of your professional research career. 

  • Identify the achievements or activities that will paint a picture of your career to date.

  • Emphasise your strengths and the skills which make you an attractive candidate.

  • Consider what the reviewer might be looking for.

  • Think about the position or funding call that you are applying for.

  • Tailor each CV so that your achievements are as relevant as possible to the assessment criteria.

 

Determine the main priority of the particular research programme. For instance, is there a strong focus on public engagement, career progression or impact? Then ensure that you highlight relevant achievements in your narrative CV that mirrors the aims and objectives of the research programme or funding body.

Ultimately, your CV should show that you are the best person for the position or to carry out the research outlined in the research proposal and that you are a trustworthy candidate who will use the funding responsibly and appropriately.

Structure & Language

Funders will often ask that you structure your CV around three key achievements in each section. It is important to use subheadings and paragraphs as you want to make it as easy for the reviewer to read as possible.

Possible section topics: 

  • Profile
  • Key achievements in the generation of knowledge
  • Key achievements in the development of individuals
  • Key achievements supporting broader society & the economy
  • Key Achievements Supporting the Research Community
  • Publications - Your publications are still important in relation to communicating your research contributions and building your reputation.

 

It is crucial that you stick to the funder’s formatting requirements, you may be constrained by page or word count.

  • Avoid using long sentences and paragraphs. 
  • Avoid the over use of acronyms
  • Don't repeat information.
  • Use plain and clear writing where possible (oftentimes the people reviewing your application are administrative staff and are not necessarily specialised in your subject area or jargon associated with your discipline).  

Traditional CV

Traditional metric-driven CVs often fail to present the full picture of a researcher’s contributions, and may unfairly disadvantage people whose career paths that have followed non-standard patterns or those who have taken time out of academia (for parental leave, caring responsibilities, long-term illness, secondments, military service, and so on). 

Important to Note

*EXCLUSION OF METRICS*

Funders often prohibit the use of journal or publication metrics in narrative CVs. As such it is crucial to be aware of this as the inclusion of any metrics in these applications may render your application ineligible for review.

*IT'S ALL RELATIVE*

All researchers excel in different areas, narrative CVs are used in an attempt to be more conscious of equality diversity and inclusivity and to allow individual researchers to highlight their individual strengths. 

Do not be disillusioned if you took a career break or you came to the research profession later in your professional career etc. You may find some sections more difficult than others and that's ok. Reviewers are aware of your career stage, and it will be reflected in your achievements.

*Check out some examples*

Tip: Maybe ask to look at the narrative CV of some of your successfully funded colleagues for inspiration.

However do not copy and paste the content. It is important that your CV reflects your story and your unique contributions to research and society.

Open Research

Open research is becomming a funder requirement and an expectation in most disciplines, as such a narrative CV can be an opportunity to demonstrate your proven track record of experience of open research practices. Use the narrative CV to your advantage to frame yourself as a candidate that is likely to be a good return on investment by showing evidence that you have experience with incorporating open research practices and navigating open access publishing.