I ran across an assistant professor's CV which had a category that outlined major rejections. The category listed items like how many times they were rejected from graduate programs, the most times a manuscript got rejected prior to being published, how many times they failed to secure a research grant, etc. I have never seen any other scholar's CV that had such a category.

I personally thought that this was refreshing to see where one was humble enough to outline their major failures in light of their impressive accomplishments, especially considering how the academic sphere can be rather... ego-inflated.

Is there a benefit to doing so, or would it be construed as something problematic? Or would it largely depend on where someone is in their career (e.g., Grad Student vs. Tenure-Track Assistant Professor vs. Tenured Full Professor vs. Distinguished Professor, etc.)?

It's somewhat similar to this question, but also unique in that it's not as specific as listing which conferences or papers got rejected--it's just a numeric category that says something like "Rejected from 3 Grad Programs" rather than "Rejected from Harvard, Yale, Princeton".

  • 2
    Personally I'd find it quite amusing and surely not think any lesser of an applicant who provided such information, but I think most people wouldn't take the risk; a publicly posted CV from someone not currently applying to a job might not be the same CV they'd circulate when applying for jobs, grants, etc.
    – Bryan Krause
    Jan 2, 2019 at 22:48

1 Answer 1


I don't see any particular benefit from doing so, but I know a number of faculty who are taking a sort of principled stand toward showing that, in a lot of cases, academia is just persistently slogging through failure.

There may be some slight benefit in showing productivity that doesn't result in a clear output ("I submitted X R01 proposals, they just didn't get funded...") but I think primarily this is a personal stance and at best will cause someone to nod in sympathy.

I've also seen this talked about a lot in the somewhat more ephemeral and less formal spaces of social media.

  • I think the main use of this is for senior people to demonstrate how much rejection happens to everybody - but I can also see an argument that if you're applying for a position where the ability to churn out plenty of grant applications is key, the fact that you have done this - even if unsuccessful - may be worth something
    – Flyto
    Jan 3, 2019 at 13:19

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