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How to Write an Academic CV

Academic CVs, like general CVs, have three key purposes:

--To demonstrate that you have the skills and abilities to do the job (backed up with evidence!)
--To convince the reader that you want the job and are worthy of an interview

Unlike general CVs, however, academic CVs are not as straightforward. While general CVs may be reproduced infinitely for any job, academic CVs must be customised and targeted for the job or course that you are pursing. For example, it is acceptable (and often expected) to have your academic CV run on for more than two pages, as the details and descriptions necessary for some of the areas are quite in-depth. Here are some tips on how to prepare your winning academic CV:


Before you apply for that specific research project, get some background info on the academic department, the project you are applying for, and the staff. Websites are a good place to start.
Knowing about the principle people is always important. If you are applying for a PhD, learn about your potential supervisor; if applying for a postdoc position, learn about the principle investigator; in the case of lectureships, learn about the department head.


No one knows you like you know yourself. Take time to think about your aims, your skills, your achievements, your interests, and your academic and professional experiences.
What would you like out of the project you are applying for? Are your interests compatible with the project? What makes you a worthwhile candidate? You should think about these questions while preparing your academic CV.


The structure of your CV will depend on the type of position you are pursing: Research (e.g. PhD studentships or postdoc fellowship) or Teaching (e.g. tutor or lecturer).
Here is a brief outline of what each could include:

Research Experiences
Editorial Experience
Funding Experience
Conference Papers

Teaching Experiences
Research Experiences
Administrative Experience
Conference Papers

Academic CVs tend to provide information on three key areas of experience:
  • Education
  • Research
  • Teaching

The importance of each area differs based on the position you are seeking. For example, teaching experience is relevant when applying for lectureships or postdoc positions, but not important for PhD studentships. Some areas will require more emphasis than others.
The 'Education' section outlines your formal education background, including first degrees and postgraduate degrees and the institutions where studies were conducted. Provide a summary of the studies you pursued, like course names or your dissertation/thesis title. If you have a PhD, provide a synopsis and name of supervisor.
The 'Research' area deals with your academic experiences, your research interests, research methods, and research proposals. This is a good place to link your research to the job or course you are seeking. Stand out by providing information on any grants or funding you may have received. It is also appropriate to include details on conferences participation and a list of publications (including forthcoming publications). Any editorial experience (in journals, for example) is also relevant to this section.
The 'Teaching' area allows you to detail your experiences as an instructor. This can include a list and description of courses taught, the level of teaching (postgrad or undergrad), the delivery mode (lectures, tutorials, seminars, workshops, etc), and courses you would be interested in (and able to) teach in the future. Any past administrative duties are also relevant, like committee participation, dissertations supervision, or other internal academic roles (e.g. director of studies).
Two or three Academic References are usually required for academic jobs and courses. Be sure to include contact details for each referee, and their relation to you (e.g. PhD supervisor).

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