In some job adverts I found something on the lines of (emphasis mine):


Graduate degree in X or PhD in Y with a proven track record in X, ideally with experience in Z. We are looking for a highly motivated scientist to join an interactive, multi-national team at the cutting edge of...

(I know I should ask the OP as they are the only ones to know what do they want to say... but,). What does this "proven track record" mean ?

Does that it mean I should have publications?
Could it be other published work like blogs, programs, discussions, answers in SE traceable back to me if they are related to X?

  • What type of job. Industry looks for different things than academia. Proof for a post doc is very different from proof for a full professorship.
    – StrongBad
    Dec 9 '16 at 22:49
  • This job title was for a post doc in a research institute, but I think I have seen it in other research positions. I am interested in academia environment, although industry insight is also welcome
    – llrs
    Dec 10 '16 at 8:41

For an industry position this typically means you have worked on and completed a project that involved X. Ideally you should also have some way of presenting verification of this if challenged, but generally confidentiality agreements may prevent specific details. In the academic sense, this effectively means the same thing, but you should have some sort of publication to verify your involvement in X.


Our human resources department likes to use this term. I've raised with them the idea that track records are hardly provable. They often edit job ads, inserting the term where we're looking for demonstrable research output or work experience in a field. The first is much easier to demonstrate than the second, especially in the context of commercial-in-confidence work in some employment situations.

When assessing proven track record in a particular field, I look for the following:

  1. Peer-reviewed publications
  2. Teaching experience, including PhD supervision
  3. Competitive grant success
  4. Group (ie., department, lab, etc.) leadership
  5. Esteem measures (ie., fellowship in a learned society, awards)

For an early-career applicant, the last three items above may not have been achieved yet.

To answer your question directly, I would consider blogs, discussion forum participation and SE membership to be peripherally related to the track record except in one particular case: when the job involves a strong component of social media engagement. For example, I might have an opening for an academic whose administrative load included the development and implementation of the Department's social media strategy.

Finally, your use of the word "programs" is vague. If you've developed software or applications in the field, then I would classify this as research-related output. If you mean you developed educational videos and posted them online, then these might be classified as teaching output. If you mean you've organised programs of activities, this might be relevant, too. unfortunately, for every interpretation that shows relevance, there are many that may be irrelevant.

Finally, I suggest that you seek clarification from the contact person listed in the advertisement about the way you can best meet their criterion of "proved track record". Tailoring your application to the needs of the assessors is an important aspect of the submission process.

Good luck to you.

  • When I wrote programs, I wanted to refer to software programs, of course related to research or the field of the position
    – llrs
    Dec 10 '16 at 8:43

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