Luxembourg pioneering in narrative CV for researchers

05 August 2021

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 New narrative-based CV for researchers.

A new narrative-based CV that highlights skills and experiences better than a portfolio of grants and publications is underway. The template encourages researchers to explain how they have contributed to knowledge creation, to individuals’ development, to the wider research community and to society at large.

How can academics craft compelling research statements? How can evaluators recognise the diversity of researchers and their outputs? How can funders and institutions move away from flawed quantitative indicators of research quality towards a more detailed view of research contributions?

Originally created by the Royal Society – the UK’s national academy of science – together with the Declaration on Research Assessment, the Resume for Researchers is a narrative-based CV which seeks to widen the range of things which researchers and innovators are valued for.

Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR) is one of the few funding agencies piloting narrative CVs in evaluation.

Giving credit to the diversity of researchers’ types

With the narrative CV, there is more attention paid to a researcher’s skills and abilities than to a chronological list of publications. It gives people the opportunity and the credit to have different types of careers, and to describe the experiences and skills they have developed as well as the achievements they are most proud of. These CVs can be tailored to each proposal, highlighting the specific accomplishments that are most applicable for the project.

The narrative CV format aims to give credit to both the diversity of researchers as well as what comes out of research. This provides evaluators and panel members a broader and more comprehensive view of the value, quality, and potential impact of researchers’ work, as well as its suitability and relevance to a funding programme.

Narrative-based CVs to encourage inclusivity

Overall, the initiative could be a useful tool to help reduce bias in recruitment, promotion, and grant funding.

Gender biases affect women in science at different stages, whether in the hiring process, in funding and awards, or during the peer review stage.

Reduced publication opportunities for women due to family obligations also lead to fewer citations.

The new format includes career breaks, contribution to knowledge, to the professional development of other researchers, to the research community and to society in general, and a personal statement. The inclusion of career breaks gives an opportunity for applicants to tell their story. The inclusion of career breaks, including family responsibilities, illness and changes of sector or discipline, is important as it allows reviewers to take into account non-research time when assessing the performance of applicants.

Researchers are more than just papers and grants

FNR is one of the only agencies requiring narrative-based CVs across all of their programmes. This requirement came into effect in 2021, and the FNR has conducted a feedback survey for both applicants and reviewers, to understand the usefulness and clarity of the narrative CV.

So far 182 applicants and 134 reviewers have given feedback, with a generally positive response to the change. A more complete overview of the data will be openly communicated in Fall 2021.

“The idea is to allow researchers to have a broader range of outputs (beyond grants and papers) recognised, and to provide context for evaluation criteria for our evaluators.”

“You are more than just your papers and grants, and this should be recognised!”

Sean Sapcariu

Sean Sapcariu is a Programme Manager at the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR), responsible for the biomedical research domain.

More about FNR grants

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