Narrative CVs

Narrative CVs

Narrative CVs are being adopted by many funders as part of wider efforts to improve research culture and research assessment. Narrative CVs move beyond traditional metrics-based CVs of publication lists, employment and education history.

The Royal Society have developed the Résumé for Researcher (R4R) template to support the evaluation of individuals’ varied contributions to research and narrative CVs based on the R4R have been adopted by a number of funders.

The UKRI Résumé for Researcher and Innovation (R4RI), designed to be inclusive of UKRI’s research and innovation communities, is being rolled out across UKRI funding calls in 2022/23. 


What is a narrative CV - Résumé for Research and Innovation (R4RI)?

Narrative CVs are a new format of CV requiring written descriptions of contributions and achievements across a broad range of skills and experiences. Narrative CVs move beyond traditional metric-based CVs which are primarily publication lists with employment and education history with little context.

The R4R-like CV is a content-rich approach similar to the style of writing a cover letter or personal statement. Critically narrative CV explains how researchers have contributed and had impact in their work.

The R4RI format (PDF) encourages researchers to detail how you have contributed to the 

  • Generation and flow of new ideas, hypotheses, tools or knowledge – for exampleskills acquired from past research, projects, key outputs such as data sets, software, conference presentations and research and policy publications and published works.
  • The development of others – for example, project management, supervision, or mentoring, line management, contributions to the success of a team or its members, collaborations and or leadership in shaping the direction of a team, organisation, company or institution.
  • Wider research and innovation community - for example collaboration across disciplines, institutions, and/or countries, commitments such as editing, reviewing and committee work, positions of responsibility, aiding improvement of research integrity or open research culture, or strategic leadership in influencing a research agenda.
  • Broader society – for example, engagement across the public and/or private sectors or with the wider public, research which has contributed to policy development or public understanding, other impacts across research, policy, practice and business, and other research users.

The narrative CV is supported by a statement  (‘Additions’ section in UKRI R4RI) offering the opportunity to detail any career breaks, secondments, volunteering, part-time work, and other relevant experience (including in time spent in different sectors) that might have affected progression of a researcher. 

Why have narrative CVs - R4RIs been introduced?

Narrative CVs have been introduced as part of wider efforts to improve research culture and reform research assessment. This approach is consistent with the key principles of the San Francisco Declaration of Research Assessment (DORA). The R4RI approach aims to help to drive change in Open Research practice and improvements to the wider research culture by evidencing contributions in a better way through the:

  • Reduction in emphasis on proxy metrics, focusing instead on quality, significance and impact of researchers’ contributions.
  • Opportunity to describe a wider breadth of contributions (e.g., data sets, software, policy publications and other published works). With the aim to:
    • Improve inclusivity – reducing focus on linear, continuous careers and opening up career pathways and transitions between academia and other sectors.
    • Reduce barriers between sectors – allowing applicants to provide context for assessors to understand the significance and impact of their work.
    • Build a stronger research and innovation system – encouraging researchers to invest time in a wide range of activities, such as developing others and public engagement which contribute to the wider system, ensure these often ‘invisible’ activities are visible, recognised and rewarded.
  • Adoption of a single, flexible framework to reduce bureaucracy.
How to prepare a narrative CV - R4RI
  • Always refer to the application guidance for the specific call you are applying to.
  • Use active words (led, managed, developed); write in the first person to describe how you have contributed to achievements – when talking about different projects/achievements make sure your role is clear.
  • Complete in a narrative style, similar to a covering letter
  • Provide evidence to support your statements such as papers, datasets, conference presentations, posters, collaborations established, software developed and more.
  • Use detail to describe your contributions. UKRI have identified ‘invisible’ contributions as well as the more ‘visible’ ones, stating all would be welcome in a R4R-like CV
  • Make use of the Grants Academy UoA annotated UKRI R4RI template for guidance and example text
  • Complete the University of Glasgow open access online course 
  • Ask for feedback from others. The Researcher Development team can review and advise on the content of narrative CVs, in particular for early career researchers. R&I Research Development Executives can also provide feedback and advice on R4RIs when checking research funding applications.
Other resources

University of Aberdeen Grants Academy annotated R4RI guidance

University of Glasgow narrative CV course is available open access and consistas of written materials and short video presentations.

Royal Society Résumé for Research

UKRI Résumé for Research and Innovation (R4RI), a Narrative CV Approach UKRI webinar (21 March 2022)

UKRI Résumé for Research and Innovation (R4RI) guidance

UKRI joint funders group is sharing funder approaches towards the use of a R4R-like CVs in funding decisions and developing a library of resources.