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Careers Café

Where do I put…

  • Have you been communicating your research to audiences beyond your discipline or even beyond academia?
  • Have you been communicating your research using new media?

If so, you may be wondering: How do your put these things on your CV?

This problem arises for academics at all career stages: from graduate students to full professors. Whether you are applying for a job, a promotion, or a grant, you need to give an account of what you have been doing in ways that make sense to those reading your documents.

Wider impact is increasingly important. But we don’t yet have a way of including knowledge mobilization activities in academic CVs.

Not that academics haven’t been doing these activities for a while. I’ve actually met academics who have admitted that they’ve never really thought of these activities as relevant to their academic CV, so they just leave them off. That’s not going to work if you need evidence that you can communicate beyond the narrow circle of your own (piece of the) discipline.

Have clear categories for your research outputs
It is not unusual to divide your the publications section of your CV into sub-sections, like

  • monographs
  • peer reviewed journal articles
  • other peer reviewed publications
  • other publications

Once your “other publications” category seems like it contains things that are not really similar, you may start to feel uncomfortable.

It is also hard to know what to do with things that are not publications. Is sitting on an advisory committee to the Ministry of Education considered service work? Even if you are there because of your research expertise and your contributions to discussions communicate research evidence to policy makers?

A lot of people would list this under service but if you are there for research expertise and that is how you communicate your research knowledge to those policy makers, then I would suggest it is a research contribution, albeit not in the same category as peer reviewed publications.

The organizing principle is the audience
Peer reviewed journal articles and research monographs have as their primary audience other academics. Edited collections and some of your non-peer reviewed output also primarily address other academics. You’ll have a few categories for publications that speak to this primary audience.

Then you have “other research contributions” (as SSHRC application instructions suggest). Categorize these under meaningful headings, too. Options include:

  • Research reports
  • Articles in trade publications
  • Articles or interviews in mainstream media
  • Advisory activity

Or, you might consider grouping activities that address a particular audience: practitioners, policy makers and the general public are very different kinds of audience.

Do the same for conference presentations. This category is very meaningful as a subset of research communication to academic audiences.

Clear communication
Your goal is to communicate your accomplishments clearly. Communication is a two-way process. Know what your audience cares about and make it easy for them to find the information they seek.

Do not stretch the truth. You are not “padding” your CV. You are simply communicating your activities in reaching wider audiences with your research. Be honest with yourself about what activities do that.

By finding a way to communicate your accomplishments clearly you are contributing to the process of deciding appropriate formats and giving value to this type of work.

Jo VanEvery is a career coach who specializes in helping academics. Find her at
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  1. Janni Aragon / May 7, 2012 at 22:24

    I will chime in that it’s important to check in with your mentor/coach, grad advisor or the department chair to verify what the department culture is for placing items in the CV.

    You do want to get credit for all that you do, but placing each item in the best area is important.

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