I have just received feedback about my PhD (in my University, we do not do an oral defense, our dissertations are peer reviewed) - and I have received great and useful feedback and criticisms which will be a breeze to respond to.

Also included in the feedback are some very kind and positive comments about me as a scientific researcher. This leads me to my question, would it be appropriate to use the positive comments from the examiners when applying to academic positions? This of course, while preserving the anonymity of the examiners themselves.

Something along the lines of "Examiners to my PhD dissertation recognized my ability to perform task, stating positive comment".


Hum, I do understand the impulse, but I don't think a CV is the right place for that. You don't want it to look like the back cover of a crime novel :)

In my country (France), PhD thesis undergo both a peer-review and a formal defense. Thus, you usually come out of it with two written reviews of your thesis, and one written review of your defense. It would be quite uncommon to quote these in a CV, but in many applications it is fine (and sometimes mandatory) to actually attach them to the application, as supporting material.

So, unless it is common to do so in your system, I wouldn't recommend quoting praise for yourself in a CV (a CV is a list of facts, mainly, not opinions), but you can try to include it in the application if it is allowed. Either raw, or you could quote it in the application letter, statement of intent, summary of your work, whatever:

The research topic of my PhD was to study the influence of UV irradiation on bacterial growth rate in the lab's fridge. I quantified the extent to which it was detrimental to the life of these poor innocent bacteria. I also made the case for a new classification splitting part of the UV range currently known as “UV-C” radiation into a new “UV-D” category, based on its distinct harmful effects on fungal growth.

This work was well received by the community, with a total of 4 published papers and 3 conference talks during my PhD. The thesis peer-review committee called it “a brave and well-inspired revolution of the old dusty classification of UV radiation” and characterized the end product of the thesis as “a clean lab fridge: the greatest service you can render mankind or, at least, labkind”.

  • ah yes, an application letter may be indeed the better option. – user7130 Nov 15 '13 at 9:09
  • 2
    +1, if only for the funny imaginary application letter extract. – Faheem Mitha Nov 15 '13 at 11:31

I don't know if I would include these in your own application materials, but I would certainly try to have this examiner write a letter of recommendation for you (many jobs will allow extra, optional letters if this one is an "extra"). It's going to sound stronger coming directly from a respected third party than if you provide the quote yourself, even if the actual material is the same.

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