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The Narrative CV

I have been fielding quite a few questions about the Narrative CV - and since 2024 is the first year it features in Royal Society NZ Marsden Round, I thought it was worth a bit of a deep dive.

The narrative CV is one step towards improving appreciation of more diverse research outputs and impacts (and factoring in wide ranging career paths). This helps broaden the definition of an academic and shifting the focus from quantity to quality. The longer-term goal is really to promote (and not feel hindered by) increased movement between roles, sectors and disciplines. This promotes inter- and transdisciplinary collaboration - the real aim of many funders.

What is a Narrative CV?

The narrative CV is a relatively new format of CV allowed by some funders in the NZ funding landscape, such as the Royal Society and MBIE.

As explained by the University of Oxford, "the narrative CV allows you to tell your story! It provides a structured yet flexible format that prompts a description of contributions and achievements that can reflect a broad ​range of skills and experience. The narrative CV approach aims to reward a broader set of research-related activities;​ values diverse contributions and career paths​​; improves diversity and inclusion​​; and encourages responsible use of metrics.​"

NZ Funders are clear in that "both templates will follow the same assessment process so there’s no advantage or disadvantage depending on which one you choose." 

Who should use a Narrative CV?

Here are some examples of people who might really benefit from using a narrative CV (especially compared to a standard NZ CV):

  • People with fluid research career paths, such as those with extended time in industry or clinical practice.

  • People who focus on impact, such as those who are supporting a bid as a consultant, including cultural, political or clinical advisors

  • People who work in an area with more diverse outputs, rather than the academic peer reviewed publications, conference proceedings, patents, etc. I see you arts & humanities folk!

  • Early career researchers who have made great contributions to their field, but don't yet have many publications or conference proceedings to fill up a standard CV.

This list can go on... However, if you are an academic who works in a field with more 'classic' outputs such as peer reviewed publications, conference proceedings, patents, etc., then you may feel more comfortable sticking with a standard CV and this is just fine. Assessors and panellists will be familiar with the standard CV, and therefore they will be able to understand the scope of your track record and impacts well. I've written about CVs in previous blog posts, so check that if you plan to take the standard track. From my experience, the majority of academics still utilise the standard CV format, but I do expect this to change as awareness grows.

If you are planning to use a Narrative CV, then this is a great time. As it is relatively new on the NZ funding scene, you can really stand out and make your mark. Contact me with questions or for any support.

Want to see examples?

Luckily MBIE have some prepared:

How can you learn more?

If you want to read more, there is a collective movement towards the use of narrative CVs. Here is a selection of some resources, compiled by the Joint Funders Group and from Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA).


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