I defended my PhD in Dec 2017 and then stepped away from academia for a while and decided to pursue other stuff. I realized I wanted to change fields and started reading books and papers about it and even contacted a local prof to write a review paper about that topic, which he accepted. Now I finished writing that paper and I'm just waiting on the prof to finish his part and we're gonna submit it in a month or so. What I'm wondering is - how do I present this in my CV? I was writing the paper since Nov/Dec 2019, so I spent a bit over 3 months on it (it's huge), and I'm wondering if I should put that under "work experience" on the first page, or under "activities", which are on the second page.

My initial idea was something like:

| 2019-2020  | Volunteer work, Institute X, Department Y, Lab  Z |
|            | Project: "Name of the review paper"               |
|            | Supervisor: Dr. Proffy McProffson                 |

I'm just trying to make it look like I did something of substance and I'd like to present that volunteer work in the best possible light, so that I have better chances of landing a position. Which is pretty hard, since I've been away from academia for so long.

Any input is welcome. Thanks.

  • 1
    I strongly suggest avoiding any connection with volunteering, since it usually means something else. Perhaps revise your question accordingly.
    – user2768
    Commented Mar 24, 2020 at 10:39
  • 1
    Well, I wasn't paid to do that work, so what should I call if it not volunteering?
    – praznin
    Commented Mar 24, 2020 at 10:41
  • @praznin internship, maybe?
    – padawan
    Commented Mar 24, 2020 at 10:45
  • 1
    Sorry, English isn't my first language so maybe I missed something. For example, one prof said " (...)get experience in a lab studying molecular biology, genetics or bioinformatics. Most universities have aging labs these days. Volunteer to work at one."[1], so I assumed academic volunteering can be used as a term. I don't know else how to describe it, hence my question. [1] reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/eorio3/…
    – praznin
    Commented Mar 24, 2020 at 10:57
  • 1
    I propose to use the section title "Research experience" instead, and listing the professor as your collaborator rather than supervisor. Commented Apr 23, 2020 at 11:19

1 Answer 1


Don't claim supervision nor volunteering without an agreement. (I'd consider that lying on your CV.) Your work was conducted as a hobby or as professional development or ..., which don't easily fit on a CV and their presentation will depend on the position you're applying for. E.g., for an academic appointment, you could include this information in a covering letter or in your CV's opening blurb.

  • I'm almost sure the prof would allow me to claim this as volunteer academic work, but of course I would and will ask before putting it on my CV. That's not the issue. I have the following sections in my CV: Education, Collaborations, Work Experience, Honors and awards, Professional training and Activities. I'm just wondering where to put it. I'll ask for permission anyway, just the positioning is kinda tough.
    – praznin
    Commented Mar 24, 2020 at 11:01
  • @praznin You could ask for a short-term (e.g., 6-12mths) honorary position or visiting title or ... The prof might be put-off initially, so you'd need to explain why (because you want something formal on your CV). As it stands, you can list the work under collaborations (since they don't imply payment).
    – user2768
    Commented Mar 24, 2020 at 11:17
  • thanks! I look into those options and see what the prof thinks. @user2768
    – praznin
    Commented Mar 24, 2020 at 11:20

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