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The question in the title is motivated by recent comments on other questions on this site that were surprising to me. Is there a precisely defined and widely accepted standard for CVs that would mean omitting one or more publications in a CV is dishonest?

Please base your answer on one or more references and not merely personal opinion.

Note that this question is about honesty, not about whether it is a good idea to omit publications.

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    "Is there a precisely defined and widely accepted standard for [anything in academia]?" ---No. ;-) – Nate Eldredge Feb 2 '17 at 16:24
  • There's no reason to list low-quality papers (such as that one based on your undergraduate thesis), ones in an unrelated field, ones at low-impact conferences, etc. – Ellen Spertus Feb 2 '17 at 16:42
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    And in case omitting one or more publications in a CV is considered as dishonest: Does "publication" include technical reports, papers at non-peer-reviewed (or superficially reviewed) workshops, workshop papers describing work in progress, posters, articles in trade magazines, ...? – Uwe Feb 2 '17 at 16:43
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    My question is an ethical one. I don't believe the other related questions and answers make any claim about the ethics of this. I'm fine if this question gets closed as "mainly opinion based", which would mean the answer is actually "no", as I expect. – David Ketcheson Feb 2 '17 at 18:22
  • How horrible is that one publication you want to omit, and why didn't you ask the journal to retract it? – Karl Feb 2 '17 at 19:34
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Since there are no rules on how a CV should look like it will be hard to find references. There are also different preferences from different people, so you cannot avoid "opinion based" answers here.

In my opinion it doesn't look good if you just leave out a publication and make it look like those are all of your publications. However, it is very unusual to include all publications in a CV once the number gets bigger. How many to include is up to you, most of the time I've seen around 10. To make clear that those aren't all of your publication there's usually the phrase "selected publications" and in that case you want to include the "best" or most relevant publications or a very representative sample of the things you did. So the important part is to actually tell the reader that it is only a part of the full publication record, but if you do so it is definitely no problem.

The guidelines from columbia university say:

Publications - These can also be listed on a separate page, or you may include a distinct section called “Selected Publications.”

This is also true for awards, fellowships and things like that. Once the list get's very long you might only list the most prestigious ones.

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"Dishonest" may be a bit too harsh for me, but it is definitely a case of "not the whole truth".

Considering that one often sees "Selected Publications" (e.g. short bios in leaflets or short CVs in grant proposals), I would always assume that "Publications" is the headline of a non-selective and complete list of publications.

My conclusion is, that omitting some publications in the list but not using "Selected Publications" may make it seem that there may be "a skeleton in the closet". On the other hand, one may argue that "Publications" means "Scientific Publications" and that certain papers, accidentally published by disreputable publishers, are not really scientific, so one may skip these in the list…

  • When I see "Selected Publications" in someone's CV, I immediately assume there is a skeleton in the closet. – JeffE Feb 2 '17 at 23:41
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    Well, I know some people who select their publications to keep their CVs shorter than a telephone book. But you probably don't mean these guys... – Dirk Feb 2 '17 at 23:59
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    @Dirk Anyone with a publication list that long surely has a few skeletons in it. ;-) – Karl Feb 3 '17 at 8:55

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