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Action Research on Research Culture


Study Overview

The study tests how the format and content of CVs changes shortlisting decisions for scientific Postdoc positions (comparing applications including classic academic CVs and Narrative CVs). It will also explore how applicants go about preparing different forms of CV; and how recruiting PIs use CVs, and other information available to them, to make shortlisting decisions.  

Many stakeholders in research have expressed concern that standard academic CVs and recruitment places too much emphasis on a narrow set of achievements such as publications authored and grants won. Narrative CVs have been identified, by many (including URKI), as a way to reduce this emphasis by allowing researchers to include a more diverse collection of information about their skills and achievements. However there is no empirical evidence of how a switch to the Narrative CV format recommended by UKRI (“The Résumé for Research and Innovation”) will affect recruitment decisions. This research project aims to test how use of the Résumé for Research and Innovation affects shortlisting decisions for scientific postdoc recruitment. 

At of the end of year one of the project we have piloted Narrative CVs in five live recruitments at Cambridge.  We are analysing the results of the pilot recruitments and preparing publications from the analysis.  The main phase began in October 2023. We are recruiting PIs systematically, going through the grants office and through communication with Heads of Department to spread the word as opposed to obtaining a convenience sample. Another aim is to engage more PIs from the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities. These disciplines (in general) have a lower number of postdocs, and potentially differing career paths and concerns to STEM subjects. Hence, we’re looking into ways to get a representative sample from a wide number of departments. 


Structure of pilot Narrative CV trial:



Participating in this study

For detailed info, please see our PI FAQs, linked in the sidebar to the left. Below is our recruitment flyer.