ASTR 8500 (O'Connell)
ADVICE ON WRITING CURRICULUM VITAE
- A CV is a summary, not a narrative. Keep it well organized,
clear, clean, uncrowded, succinct.
- An exercise in tempered self-promotion. You should be thorough, but
don't inflate, exaggerate, or overhype. Facebook is a bad
- Remember that your CV will be seen not just by your prospective
employer but also by people being asked for letters of
- Arrange format so it is easy to update regularly
- Header line on each page except first with your name
- Single 12 point font is best. Use bold face for section headings
and occasionally elsewhere (e.g. highlighting your name in author
lists). Optionally, use italic for journal names, titles of books or
projects, telescopes, etc.
- 3/4"-1" margins
- Most listings are now preferred to be in reverse chronological
order (implies use of special typesetting macros if you intend to
number publications, for instance).
- Thanks to the Internet, you can now see the CV's of hundreds of
active astronomers. Sample those of people you admire and model yours
accordingly. It would be a good idea to survey the CV's of scientists
at institutions where you are applying.
Typical content and order
- Full name
- Current address and contact information; email address
- Education (college and subsequent): institutions, degrees, major
subjects, dates. Do not list high school. Do not give GPA's. List
any honors (except in degree titles) under "Recognition."
- Research interests (brief list, not description)
- Employment/positions held: dates, title, institution. Additional
entries for each subtitle (e.g. Assistant, Associate Professor).
- Professional affiliations (e.g. AAS, IAU)
- Recognition, prizes, awards, fellowships (academic; college and
- Computer experience: list languages you can program in; include
other significant computing experience (e.g. sophisticated simulation
software). Important for young people, not for seniors.
- Observing experience: especially if competitively awarded; telescopes
- Instrumentation experience: essential if applying for a job with
possible instrumental components
- Teaching experience: most important are courses for which you
have had complete responsibility; list institutions, years, titles
(though don't list repeat offerings). TA experience: course name,
years; indicate lab or lecture. Online teaching experience, if any.
Include research students and postdocs supervised (could be a separate
- Outreach experience: local public outreach, press/media interactions,
online exposure, etc. Outreach publications (indicate whether these
exist, but it is probably best to list under "Publications" below).
- Other professional activities: often broken into categories.
Institutional, national, international. Journal refereeing, committee
work, proposal reviews, telescope allocation committees, conference
organizing, professional societies, project participation, etc.
Highlight any elected and/or leadership positions.
- Research grants: sponsor, title, years, amount. Indicate
whether PI or Co-I. "Amount" should be those funds over which you
have personal control. Listing total grant amount (i.e. funds
controlled by other investigators) is optional. Do not list proposals
that were not approved (though you would include those on annual
reports for your institution). Include grants that accompany awards
of observing time (e.g. HST, Chandra) here, rather than under
"Observing experience," though you can list the time under
- Presentations: a list of colloquia, conference talks, etc.
For young people, it's important to include this section; but for
seniors, it's overkill. Give year, title, venue or conference name.
Indicate if a conference talk is "Invited" or "Plenary." Normally you
would not list poster presentations here, but you can include them
under "Non-Refereed Publications" (see below). Can include public
outreach events (e.g. press conferences) here.
- Publications (see below)
- Biography: date and place of birth, marital status, children,
etc. Issues: age, other discrimination.
- Other interests: unusual activities, hobbies, sports,
etc. Issues: academic institutions are usually not interested in
these. Use your judgement.
- Languages: only if you're at least semi-fluent.
- Usually the single most important category
- Publication lists are normally embedded in the CV but could
instead be given separately as a "Bibliography."
- List in reverse chronological order
- Include your PhD thesis and advisor(s).
- Preferred order is to list refereed journal publications first,
then non-refereed publications. Books and book chapters are usually
- Refereed publications: Include complete citations for all.
Author list (exactly as it appears in press), title, journal, pages
(best to include both start and end pages), year. Put your name in
the author list in bold font. If there are more than about 12
authors, list only the lead author and then the number of co-authors.
You could give a URL for the paper, but this will clutter up the
appearance and isn't very useful in hardcopy; if you do include a URL,
make it to the ADS abstract service.
- Include papers that have been accepted or are "in press"
(i.e. between acceptance and appearance in the journal). Include
papers that have been "submitted" but not accepted under a separate
heading. It's best not to include work "in preparation" unless it is
something major (a monograph, for example) because readers have
no guarantee that it will be completed.
- Numbering publications is important if you are being evaluated
for a job or promotion, so that referees can easily refer to
individual pieces of work. But this is overkill if you have only a
handful of papers.
- Non-refereed publications: List information as for refereed.
Non-refereed items would include papers in conference proceedings,
technical papers or reports, ArXiv postings that aren't submitted to
journals, etc. Can include popular/outreach writing, but is probably
best to make that a separate section. Can include online work.
- For senior people, work presented only in the form of
a poster would not be included. But this disadvantages young
people, whose early contributions will likely be in this form. You
can create a separate section labeled "Meeting Poster Abstracts" and
place entries there. Note that in some cases (e.g. AAS meetings)
poster abstracts are listed on the ADS abstract server. At some
meetings, poster presenters are allowed to put abstracts or one-page
writeups in the published proceedings. In that case, list them under
- If an author is your student or postdoc, it is good to highlight
this with an asterisk or dagger. Particularly important in the case
of lead authors because this usually represents a
"shared-first-author" credit (the first-author count is a metric
commonly used by hiring committees).
- Highlight any paper that is an "Invited Review" or the
published version of an "Invited" presentation.
- Remember that in some circumstances (e.g. university promotion),
you will be expected to submit hardcopies of publications, so it is
a good idea to update a file of these every time you update the CV.
July 2017 by rwo
Text copyright © 2017 Robert W. O'Connell. All