Image: just the first six pages of the stultifying detail in my 37-page CV
A while back on Twitter, someone asked which details she should keep track of on her CV – in particular, I think, with respect to multi-authored conference presentations. All the details, I replied, which answer was promptly and rounded derided. Why, a bunch of people asked, should anyone care about the 13th of 17 authors, the month or date of the conference, or the city it was held in? Why bother? Why keep the 37-page version of one’s CV – the version that’s (metaphorically) clogging up my hard drive*?
I couldn’t convince those who were deriding me, and to be fair, they had a considerable advantage: common sense and logic were entirely on their side. But here’s the thing: they were all early-career folks, who had perhaps less extensive experience than I do with paperwork and the administrative hunger for information. My 37-page CV isn’t too detailed; in fact, it has proven time and again to be not detailed enough. Take my advice: record all that detail, because if you stick around in academia long enough, somebody sometime will make you fill out a form that asks for details you could never have imagined could matter. As an example: at my university, every two years we fill out a CV-like form for a “research ranking exercise”, and among other things it asks for the city of publication for each journal paper and the exact date of each conference presentation and invited seminar. Yes, that’s silly; but its silliness doesn’t prevent it from being demanded**.
It’s all very well to decide which information could reasonably be asked for, and discard the rest – it sure makes keeping your CV easier. But you’ll discover eventually that you don’t get to set the definition of “could reasonably be asked for”. Third parties do. Their madness may have method in it, or it may just be madness, but it doesn’t make much difference. So keep that 37-page CV. It’s easier by far to delete the stuff you don’t need than it is to recover the stuff you didn’t record. Take it from an old hand.
© Stephen Heard (firstname.lastname@example.org) September 15, 2016
*^Mine includes every course I’ve ever taught, every grad student supervisory committee I’ve ever sat on, every journal and granting agency I’ve ever reviewed for in every year of my career, every journal and granting agency I’ve ever declined to review for, and much, much, more. Nobody except me would ever want to see all of this detail; but of course nobody except me ever has to.
**^Ah, you might say, just leave it blank, or enter N/A. Sorry, they thought of that; it’s a fillable online form and it can’t be submitted unless the date boxes contain valid dates. Ah, you might say, couldn’t you just make some dates up? Um. I would have no comment on that.