An Academic Career

Academic achievement

What have been your recent achievements?

Can you identify and articulate recent achievements which show you have made progress in your research or teaching practice? These may not always be publications, but can you point to one or two things you could add to your CV from within the last year? If you are concerned that you have little to show from your recent efforts, talk to someone who knows your work. It's easy to overlook the smaller advances you have made if your eyes are firmly fixed on the next significant publication or fellowship application.

Dr Kevin Lane shares the best advice he ever received: publish.
Dr Kathryn Else shares the best advice she was ever given: publish and aim high

How strong is your publication record, and what could you do to improve it?

If you wish to become a permanent member of academic lecturing or research staff, you do need to be adding good publications to your CV at this stage in your career. Get feedback from others in your field on the best strategy (it varies between disciplines), and choose your publications wisely.

With the focus on impact in UK universities, quality is often preferable to quantity, though not at the cost of constantly delaying publication. If you are advised to wait for a higher impact publication for your core research, is there anything you could publish sooner, possibly in collaboration with others, which would demonstrate to a future employer that your work passes the peer review filter?

If you are intend to follow a teaching-focused academic career, you may be expected to publish in the field of academic teaching practice. In which journals could you publish, from your experience so far? 

Advice for humanities researchers

"When you first finish your PhD you want to get it published as a book. If you can publish two or three journal articles, that will probably put you in a better place in the long run in terms of the discipline. At some point you will need to produce a book, but not necessarily in the first few years." Dr Angelia Wilson, Senior Lecturer in Politics.

How strong are your academic qualifications?

If you've gained a doctoral qualification, you may feel that is all the evidence you will need to show your academic credentials. However, if your previous qualifications are less impressive, or if you took longer than usual to complete your doctoral degree, academic recruiters might have concerns (perhaps subconscious), especially when compared with other strong candidates.

There might be very good reasons for earlier setbacks in your career - how can you account for this? If all the recruiters know of you is your application form and CV, tangible measures like qualifications assume a greater importance than if they know you and your current work. How can you use your reputation to offset any concerns about previous academic performance?