More and more funders are moving towards the implementation of narrative CVs within funding applications. The requirement of narrative CVs for funding applications is still fairly new and so this blog aims to give some background, awareness and resources. 

What is a narrative CV?

Submitting a ‘traditional’ academic CV, as part of an application, can often be a requirement when applying for funding. Little or some guidance may stipulate what to include within a traditional CV and may include the following: educational background, employment history, publications and fundings. However, the traditional CV focuses too narrowly on performance indicators and metrics, and can often miss out on the array of achievements individuals may have gained from varying backgrounds. Therefore, to account for diverse career backgrounds, differing career stages and those who work independently and/or as part of a larger team, narrative CVs enable individuals to detail various relevant contributions and achievements. 

It is strongly recommended that applicants refer to the funder’s guidance where a narrative CV is a requirement for an application, as funders will use their own templates. However, the premise of a narrative CV remains the same – that is, to enable individuals to write about their skills, experiences, contributions and achievements.

Who is endorsing the use of narrative CVs?

A greater number of funders are utilising narrative CVs. The adoption of a narrative CV approach, in particular the Royal Society’s Résumé for Researchers (R4R), has been highlighted in the UK government’s BEIS Research and development people and culture strategy as a way of bettering recognition of varying achievements, and as part of broader efforts to build an inclusive research culture. The strategy also detailed that UKRI will be implementing the R4R-like narrative CV and encouraging its use across the sector. 

The UKRI has been piloting the Résumé for Researchers approach across various schemes. For example, there are funding calls with which the traditional CV is still a requirement and there are some schemes with which the R4R-like narrative CV is being piloted. The UKRI are, however, intending on implementing the R4R-like narrative CV for calls which require a CV and/or Track Record in due course.    

What’s more, in 2021, the Joint Funders Group (JFG) was formed with the aim of supporting funders in exploring a shared approach towards a narrative CV. The UKRI alongside other organisations such as Alzheimer’s Research UK, British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, NIHR, Royal Academy of Engineering, and Wellcome Trust have signed a joint statement demonstrating their commitment to working together in the adoption of a narrative CV structure for the research and innovation community, based on the Royal Society’s R4R template. Furthermore, the following organisations are also noted to be contributing members of the JFG: Science Foundation Ireland, Luxembourg National Research Fund and Health Research Board, Ireland.

What does the R4R-like narrative CV entail?

The R4R template asks for personal details, four modules, a personal statement and an additions section. The four modules ask individuals the following questions: 

  • How have you contributed to the generation of knowledge?
  • How have you contributed to the development of individuals?
  • How have you contributed to the wider research community?
  • How have you contributed to broader society?

The modules lend themselves to describing contributions of new ideas, skills, dissemination of results, outputs, project management, collaborative contributions, support provided to a team, teaching activities, mentoring, supervision (students and/or colleagues), leadership experiences, editing, reviewing, refereeing, evaluations, organisation of events, improving research culture, professional corporate roles, societal engagement and knowledge exchange, stakeholder feedback and other impacts, etc.

It is clear that the information you can include is vast. However, this does not mean that you need to include everything. As with most application requirements there will most likely be a stipulation of either a page or word count limit. Therefore, if you are struggling to keep the content down, a question to ask yourself is: does it show your capability of being able to deliver the proposed project? If so, then you may wish to keep that information in. If not, then it is probably safe to cut it out. Lastly, the narrative CV template and/or information required could change; therefore, it is always important to read the funder guidance. 

Useful Resources:

  • RIS intranet: Narrative CV section (accessible when logged into your University of Portsmouth Google account).
  • The Lab for Academic Culture at the University of Glasgow has provided a freely available 25-minute online course which provides practical tips and guidance: Narrative CV Resources to help you write one -online course
  • In March 2022, the UKRI held the international online event ‘Résumé for Research and Innovation (R4RI), a Narrative CV Approach: The what, why and how organisations can engage with it’. The recording can be accessed via their event page.