What makes a good academic CV?

In theory, it should be the quality and novelty of your research, but I hear that often it is also simply the number of papers. I would imagine this is because it may be quite difficult for a given hiring committee to evaluate the impact of your work, and so they use number of publications as a proxy for quality or novelty.

To what should we, as aspiring academics who want to push our research further, aspire? How can we convince a committee that our research line is promising enough to warrant a position?


I will be graduating with my PhD in Engineering soon, but only have 6 conference papers and one journal paper. I am graduating because some external circumstances dictate that I should.

The method I have published is novel, broadly applicable, and very effective at certain things. I have some solid analytic performance guarantees and solid experimental results.It may not be a panacea, but it can solve an important practical problem with great precision. It is just not in a hot field like ML or something like that.

The world is large, and there is lots of ways to apply the results, extend them, and contribute positively to humanity. I am afraid however that my lack of publications will bar me from academic positions, despite the fact that I have an original line of research that is ripe to explore and currently published results indicate that is it effective at a certain class of problems.

I just want to push my research further and dont have much interest in becoming a post-doc to work on other people's problems...

Edit: Also, this is my throwaway account, so I've asked some dumb questions haha

  • This is quite subjective. Personally, I am only after 1-2 high quality papers in which a candidate is the first author. I also look at the research taste of the candidate. A high number of papers simply means the candidate belongs to a group, and a key issue here is, if you take the candidate out of the group, will his/her publications trend continue? Nov 19 '19 at 1:45
  • @Prof.SantaClaus I know it is quite subjective, but I was hoping to get answers just like yours. I'd like to see how real people make these decisions. Nov 19 '19 at 11:34

There's obviously not a single answer to this question.

How many papers you have published may dictate to whom you send the CV, but how you write it is something different. You can always try to apply for a position as you are, or you can try to do a post-doc and get some more publications.

Other than that, the CV advice is the same as any CV. Emphasize the skills that are relevant for the position. Try to elaborate on your role in projects that didn't produce papers if you think the experience is relevant. Obviously some institutions/PIs will be biased by papers and the prestige of the paper journals, but you won't be able to overcome that with a good CV because those people will just look directly at the publication list, and they don't need your CV for that.

Don't fight a losing battle. Try where you have a possibility of getting in, and detail the work you have done appropriately. The bias is out of your hands so I don't think there is any point in thinking about it or imagining confronting it.

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