A blog by Hazel @ Team DRNS
Across the working world, CVs are generally recognised as a way to share a written overview of your skills, education, and work experience with others. For established academics, CVs are often long, aggregative documents which detail careers in terms of the metrics through which success in Higher Education is typically evidenced. This means that a CV would normally capture publications, research funding awards, notable presentations, and membership of influential panels and organisations.
More recently, however, revolutionary changes are afoot in the way that an individual presents these sorts of occupational highlights. I recently attended an information session run by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), where I was treated to a series of fascinating discussions and presentations. There I was invited to consider the Resume for Research and Innovation (R4RI) as a better way to capture the diversity and uniqueness of individual academic career paths.
The format of the R4RI
The R4RI is based on the Royal Society’s Resume for Researchers. Where conventional CVs might be seen as a quantitative, objective summary of a career history, the R4RI encourages a more subjective, person-defined approach. This type of document asks that an individual provides a personal statement and a narrative response to four key modules/questions.
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?
Considering the pros and cons of the R4RI
The R4RI allows an individual to move beyond the traditional metrics of academic success. It is particularly useful for those offering skills which are increasingly valuable in HE, but not well-captured in a traditional academic CV. In the information session, CEO of UKRI, Professor Dame Ottoline Leysner, argued that R4RI is essential for a healthy, vibrant community of research. She felt that use of the R4RI meant that people would no longer be pushed through a very narrow door of achievements, and that the approach encouraged diversity, connectivity, and resilience. Typically, she said, a lot of broader academic activities are undervalued or hidden, but they could be surfaced through the R4RI. This was illustrated further in a presentation by Dr Karen Salt (UKRI Deputy Director – Culture and Environment) who shared that she was, at points in her career, involved in lots of different activities she didn’t quite know how to capture on a resume. A narrative CV would, she said, help people see what she did and why, and help formulate a compelling story about her career path. It would help her to share what drove, excited, and motivated her.
No culture-changing initiative is without challenge. The R4RI faces concerns that this method of declaring experience and skills values style over substance, that metrics (publications, grants) are more objective ways of measuring suitability, and that R4RI introduce barriers for those whose first language is not English. These are concerns being discussed by the UKRI Joint Funders group, whose task is to share learning and best practice.
What’s next for the R4RI
Normally, funding applications require that CVs are attached detailing the suitability of the individuals earmarked to work on the study. In these instances, the UKRI has signalled its intention to request R4RI-type CVs across a selection of future funding calls. There are plans to develop an evidence base and a suite of tools and resources. UKRI has also called for wider adoption of the R4RI among other organisations and institutions. It has set up the Alternative Uses Group, whose remit is to consider extending the use of R4RI to hiring and promotion. I recommend that you contact your own institution to find out their plans are regarding the adoption of the R4RI.
A view from Hazel @ Team DRNS
While I appreciate the challenges still to be overcome, for me, the introduction of the R4RI creates an opportunity. I am a very early career researcher and in terms of traditional academic metrics, my CV reflects this. However, like many in the contemporary academy, mine has not been a linear career path. I bring with me many transferable skills, drivers, and experiences from a previous career which the R4RI would allow me to showcase. I will be watching developments with keen interest.
The following papers consider how the challenges of the traditional academic CV are met by new ways of recognising achievement.
- Benedictus, R., Miedema, F. & Ferguson, M. Fewer numbers, better science. Nature 538, 453–455 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/538453a
- Strinzel, M., Brown, J., Kaltenbrunner, W. et al. Ten ways to improve academic CVs for fairer research assessment. Humanit Soc Sci Commun 8, 251 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41599-021-00929-0
The Royal Society has produced a template narrative CV, which gives more guidance about how to complete a narrative CV: https://royalsociety.org/-/media/policy/projects/research-culture-images/2019-10-research-culture-resume-for-researchers-template.pdf
Adams et al (2021) produced a report which reviewed the effectiveness of the R4RI at University of Glasgow: https://www.gla.ac.uk/media/Media_804252_smxx.pdf
Supporting the need for a new way of recording academic achievement, Wellcome produced a report in 2020, revealing that researchers felt that currently, “the system favours quantity over quality”: https://wellcome.org/reports/what-researchers-think-about-research-culture