Get Better: creating a research profile

Part of a series on the development of Early Career Researchers in the lab.

We spent a session discussing how to create a research profile. This led to a second session on CVs. Here is an outline of what we covered.


We talked about different CV formats first of all. We focussed on academic CVs mainly, but we discussed the differences between academic and CVs for jobs outside academia. We talked about different formats and lengths, and how best to highlight your skills.

The important thing is that the CV should always be tailored for the purpose.

For academic CVs, the content tends to differ by career stage. ECR CVs tend to highlight lab skills, whereas for later stage academics the focus is on papers and research income.

Tips for CVs

  • Maintain a master CV that has everything you’ve ever done and keep it updated.
  • Use this master document to generate the CV which is tailored for what you need (by deleting stuff and reformatting).
  • Tailor your CV: just the minimum. Keep it brief.
  • Presentation is important.
  • Typos look bad anywhere, but especially if you are applying for a post that requires attention to detail.
  • Reverse chronological order is best: publications, employment history and so on. Never mix chronologies.
  • Steer clear of Marmite! Things that some people hate and other people think are OK. Examples: profile photo, Comic Sans, Journal Impact Factor.
  • Delete irrelevant info. Example 1: “Full, clean driving licence” if you will be doing driving as part of your job then fine, otherwise, no.
  • Delete irrelevant info. Example 2: “Microsoft Office” if you mean you know how to open Word and format a document, anyone can do that. If you know how to run a mail merge or you can do VBA programming in Excel, then feel free to include it.
  • Delete irrelevant info. Example 3: Everyone has a paper in preparation for Nature… in their own mind. Only include published or preprinted papers.
  • Think hard about what the person reading it needs to know.
  • Add your professional profiles (see below)

Small group exercise: evaluate real-life CVs

We looked at a selection of different career-stage academic CVs. Personal info was redacted from the CVs and then groups of 3 or so discussed each CV. We then talked amongst the whole group what was good and bad about each CV. We also talked about how each CV could be improved.

People in the lab found this useful and this spurred the idea that they would like to have their own CVs evaluated in this way. We did this as a follow up session.

Professional profile

The biggest challenge an ECR faced is getting noticed.

These days, if you don’t have an online presence it affects which opportunities will come your way. I showed an example of someone looking for ECR conference speakers on Twitter and all suggestions in response to this were for ECRs who were on Twitter.

When someone Googles your name, what do they get? What do you want them to see? I gave my opinion on some profiles:

  • Google Scholar – essential. Sign up, and once you have a publication, make your profile public.
  • Website – essential. As a minimum we add each person to the lab website with links to their professional profiles.
  • ORCiD – required. All lab members need an ORCiD for our publications. Easy to set up a profile and link to services that will auto-update it for you, e.g. when you publish a paper.
  • Twitter – important. Possibly essential these days. Many scientists are on Twitter and there are a lot of benefits to joining. It is somehow more professional than other social networks. Twitter handles can even be included on papers. Great for networking with other scientists and for following meetings. This a great guide to getting started.
  • LinkedIn – important outside of academia. I personally dislike LinkedIn, but it is essential if you are job-hunting outside of academic circles.
  • ImpactStory – not essential but fun. You can make a profile based on your ORCiD. It’s a good way to keep track of the attention that your work gets online.
  • Publons – might become important. This is a way to log your review activity.
  • Many places to set up an author profile, e.g. researcherid. Most are not worth bothering with if you have ORCiD and/or Google Scholar page.
  • ResearchGate – not important. It’s incredibly popular but I have never needed it and dislike it for similar reasons to LinkedIn.

How active you are on these platforms determines what you will get out of them, but as a minimum, try and keep them active and up-to-date.

I left it to the people in the lab to setup whatever accounts they like. A possibility (discussed in the thread below) is to get people to sign up right there in the session, but I think it’s important for everyone to make a choice about what profile(s) they want to create. The only one I require people in the lab to setup is ORCiD.

More ideas?

This is what we covered in our first session. If you have any other ideas, leave a comment. The inspiration for this session came from a series of tweets by Mike Feigin. The thread is linked here.

The title of the post comes from “Get Better” by New FADs.

One thought on “Get Better: creating a research profile

Comments are closed.