It seems that more and more schools are encouraging their faculty to apply for (and secure) external funding. I have not yet been awarded any research grants. If I'm applying for jobs at research schools, should I include on my CV my unfunded grant applications? The obvious argument against this is that these applications were unfunded, and will be viewed as failures. The obvious argument for this is that many administrations are eager to have their faculty applying for grants and reward them (very modestly) even for unsuccessful applications. Which view carries more weight?

6 Answers 6



Definitely list pending grant proposals. But rejected grant proposals should fall into the memory hole.

Also, do not list your rejected journal submissions, the awards you applied for but did not win, or the graduate schools that did not admit you.

  • 5
    This answer is too categorical. Grant applications made (even if not successful) show experience in the process. Organizing a lot of collaborators to submit a large grant is a feat in itself, even if it doesn't get funded. Plus, a list of co-applicants who are known in the field provides evidence that the application was credible and good quality. For an entry level position, showing unsuccessful applications can be quite valuable.
    – user24098
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 8:01
  • 4
    Organizing a lot of collaborators to submit a large grant is a feat in itself. — True, but in my experience, academia doesn't reward effort, but rather results. But more importantly, it's impossible to verify that the proposal was actually submitted—unlike their funded projects, funding agencies do not reveal their rejections—and it's impossible to distinguish high-quality unfunded proposals from garbage.
    – JeffE
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 14:44
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    After consulting with my mentors, I listed rejected grant proposals once. This was on the CV included in my tenure file, and I listed two unsuccessful large group proposals that involved other, more senior members of my department. That way my senior colleagues were reminded of my effort (which was partly on their behalf), but the unsuccessful results were mitigated by their own involvement. But in all other situations (and in particular the OP's situation), I agree --- down the memory hole. Commented May 12, 2016 at 13:50
  • Exception - if you were a finalist for a prestigious award (especially if you are an ECR) that can go in a CV even if you didn't win - you can include some stats about the award to put in contest how big a deal being a finalist is. Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 22:42
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    I agree with @user24098 that it can be helpful to show experience with the application process, however, it is not customary to show this experience in a CV, so I suggest putting it somewhere else in your application. Commented Jan 7, 2019 at 5:04

When applying to a TT position at a research intensive school, the search committee is going to want to know want your first research project is going to be and who would likely fund it. A failed grant application along with an explanation can go a ways towards providing that information. One line on a CV probably isn't helpful and I would not include failed applications on my CV for such a position. I would however mention one of the proposal in my cover letter. Being able to say that you have a proposal and have identified potential funders (which comes first is a little bit of a chicken and egg thing) is a good thing. Being able to say you applied to funding scheme X and while you didn't get funded got useful feedback and you are now revising the application for funding scheme Y is even better. Obviously tailor this if the funding scheme gave a scores/percentiles/stage and/or allows you to resubmit.


You should ask yourself, who will read my CV and what do I want to achieve by tailoring it.

In your case the CV is part of an application for a position in academia, it should make an impression on the people in the search committee. From my experience people usually list only funded proposals in their CV. So including unfunded proposals will be considered as something odd. I don't say this is strictly forbidden, but you should have an extremely good reason for doing this. And I can't think of any. An unfunded proposal will be (from my experience in committees) not considered as an achievement. On the contrary, if you have a lot of funded proposals you might want to include the unfunded, too show your "success rate". But I wouldn't even recommend this.

If you want to prove that you can write about prospective future research, you should write an excellent research statement. You could address your experiences in this place.

Again, their is no right or wrong. So this is my very personal opinion.

Success stand for itself, failure needs to be qualified. (A wise man)

Only, include failed applications if it tells a story about your research and where it is going. For example, saying that you failed 5 years ago but then hit the jackpot and proved all your detractors wrong.

Unless you have a very good reason, I think it only serve to confuse people. Most importantly it will may remind folks your area of research is undeserving and uninteresting.

That is the absolute worst message that you can send.


It depends on the nature of the grants you haven't received and the type of institution you are applying to. For example, it is very, very difficult for young researchers to get NIH funding now, so it's no disgrace to fail there, but applications do show you are motivated, and might show you have good collaborators, plans etc.

Don't forget that CVs can have free text. You might just put a line in such as "Further experience in applications to NIH, NSF. Details available on request." Particularly if you are proud of a grant proposal & are planning to resubmit it, or have a good story to tell about how it might be further developed, or might be more successful coming from the institution you are applying to. If you can talk intelligently about the reviews you got and what you have learned from the experience, then give your potential employees a prompt to bring that up in the interview.


Unfortunately as you already mentioned there is no clear answer. One time I was at an AAG conference at a workshop about job hunting, applications, and CV building and the speakers were a mix of young and old academics. The majority I think agreed on not listing failures and avoid to list grants you were awarded but refused. The latter might be used when you don't have many grant application but might show a signs of bad planning. As far as your question perhaps it might be useful to list only if you applied to a very competitive grant. In alternative you could briefly talk about it in your cover letter but just highlight that you have already gone through the process. Even getting a small grant ($1000) is better than an unfunded application.

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