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Narrative CVs for Research and Innovation

In this blog post Charis Wilson, Senior Research Funding Specialist, shares information and resources about the Narrative CV format for research grant applications.

You may have seen references to Narrative CVs or R4RI (Resumes for Research and Innovation) in recent months and wondered what these are and what the implications are for your grant applications.

Narrative CVs were conceived as a response to the Nuffield Council on Bioethics’s report in 2014 on “The Culture of Scientific Research” which recommended, amongst other things, that “the track record of researchers is assessed broadly”.

The Culture of Scientific Research report (Nuffield Council on Bioethics website).

Narrative CVs are designed to be a content-rich alternative to the traditional CV which supports applicants to show how they have made a difference.  It was envisaged that an inclusive, single format for CVs across funders would enable people to better demonstrate their contributions to research, teams, and wider society.

The Royal Society led the way with the introduction of their Resume for Researchers and UKRI have started to adopt the practice in a number of their calls.  UKRI leads a Joint Funders Group which is seeking to promote and extend the use of the new format.

Résumé for Researchers (Royal Society website).

Supporting the community adoption of R4R-like narrative CVs (UKRI website).

In addition to funders requiring this new format, there is also an alternative uses group co-developed in partnership with Universities UK (UUK) to complement the efforts of the Joint Funders Group.  They are exploring the alternative applications of R4R-like CVs in the assessment of people, for example, in hiring and promotion.  This is to allow for recognition and reward of a wider range of contributions beyond perhaps the usual grant and publication record. This approach will help ensure that we are attracting and retaining the full range of the most promising research and innovation talent.

These communities of practice are responding to the sustained and ongoing call from our communities for an improved research culture.

What does a Narrative CV look like?

The following is a brief description of what makes up a Narrative CV.

  1. Personal details, education, key qualifications and relevant positions
  2. Then textual sections on the following:
  • How have you contributed to the generation of knowledge? This could include your publications and funding awarded, but also the contributions to research and innovation and skills developed during your career.
  • How have you contributed to the development of others? -This can include supervision and mentoring as well as formal line management experience.  Also how you have brought about collaborations, provided expert advice or project management experience.
  • How have you contributed to the wider research community? This could take many forms and just a few examples are: contributing to collaborations or networks; editing, reviewing and committee work; conference organization and leadership; development of standards and best practice; and influencing a research and innovation agenda.
  • How have you contributed to broader society? –Have you engaged with non-academic stakeholders or the general public? How has your work influenced public, private or third sector organisations?
  • Additional Information – this is an opportunity to raise anything else of relevance that does not easily fit into any of the other sections.

The hope is that the introduction of this new style CV will improve inclusivity and diversity within the sector which will benefit all of us.

Resources and Further Information:

Example of a current UKRI funding call requiring a Narrative CV on the UKRI website.

Watch a University of Glasgow presentation on how to write a Narrative CV (Youtube).

Edinburgh Research Office resource:  Research Assessment and Responsible Use of Research Metrics (for University of Edinburgh staff only, SharePoint).

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Charis Wilson


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