The basics of the academic CV

Richard Miller


In last issue’s column I outlined the benefit of a good balanced scorecard, which is an approach that enables you to examine various aspects of your total teaching career including education, publications and presentations, work experience, and other extra-curricular professional and volunteer activities. In this article we will discuss how to organize this information into a complete academic CV. It is mainly a tool for self-reflection and for consolidating all the relevant information—or may even become a document to be submitted to prospective employers.

The historical background of the academic CV is that it is based on what tenure committees have traditionally asked of tenure track professors under review, thus, it differs in several ways from a resume. The resume can be thought of as a marketing tool that tries to sell the job seeker to a company (while using adjectives and lists of superlative achievements). In contrast, the academic CV sticks with the facts, listing and explaining (with concrete action verbs) academic and pedagogically related information. These facts are displayed neatly and concisely in reverse chronological order. As there are no “set rules” for the academic CV, the way that it is prepared may vary, but as a template, there are usually four main sections: Education, Work Experience, Presentations/Publications and Other (which includes memberships, like JALT, and professionally-related volunteer activities).

The Education section is similar to the resume in that it comes first, beginning with the most recent (highest) degree. Typically, each entry contains the university name along with the dissertation advisor, dissertation or thesis title, and the degree itself.

The second section is Presentations/Publications, where you would list all of the presentations and publications that you have done. This section should be subdivided into two parts with separate bold headings and listing the most recent ones first. Following the completed achievements there could be a short list of work submitted and under review. Since there are no set rules for the academic CV, here is where you can, if space allows, create “abbreviated abstracts” for each of the presentations and publications. If you have a large number of them, then perhaps just an APA-style listing will suffice (since this is your document, you may want to do both). As part of the total balanced scorecard exercise, it would be a good idea to create a separate document containing a short summary of all your presentations and publications.

The third section is your Work Experience. Here, only academic and teaching work should be listed. One way to organize it is to have the most recent courses taught, including class codes or titles and even class sizes. If it gets complicated, or too long, abbreviations can be utilized if they are listed at the top of the section (ODU=Osaka Dental University, as an example). While it may seem like a lot to add, remember that the idea is to document the scope and depth of your teaching experience; not just a list of places you worked, but what you actually did there.

The final section, Other, might include any of the other kinds of non-teaching, professionally-related activities you may be involved in. These might include committee membership, professional organizations (like JALT), serving as an officer in a professional organization, or some extra-curricular volunteer activities. Hobbies and interests are best left out.

The academic CV should result in a long document—as long as 10-20 pages, if you are active. This might seem like overkill, but it reflects a degree of professionalism and gives a clear picture of your career. It may be more than some employers require, so it might be used as an adjunct to a regular one-page resume. In closing, an academic CV should be thought of as a living document, something that is constantly expanding and regularly updated.