Originally posted on The Contemplative Mammoth:
I often look at the CV’s of researchers whose careers I admire to get a sense of their trajectory, and to build a rough road map of goals and objectives. How many papers do I want to put out in order to be as competitive as possible for a particular kind of job? How much grant money does the average faculty member generally pull in before tenure? I generally think it’s better to compete with yourself rather than with others, and I would prefer to be driven by good questions and careful science than aggressive CV-building. But I do find it useful to see the range of development of scientists through time (especially in terms of research themes and the kinds of papers published at different career stages).
Over at The Professor Is In (an incredible resource even if you have an amazing advisor and mentors, like me), a commenter on a recent post mentioned that we all have a “shadow CV,” that list of grant and paper rejections, awards not won, jobs passed up for. Failure and rejection are not a part of the narrative of science or Academia– at least, not the Grand Narrative. When I look at the CV’s of the rockstar scientists I admire, I see a litany of successes. You never see failures, ever.
What would happen if people– and by “people” I mean established, successful, tenured researchers– published their Shadow CV’s on their websites? I think it would be incredibly valuable for early career scientists to see that for every paper in Science or Nature, there were a dozen (or more!) rejections from those same journals. That what is now considered a seminal work was once rejected by Awesome Journal of Awesomeness. That the first three grant proposals they ever wrote were rejected. That their job at Badass University was actually the 35th application they submitted.