Thursday, March 28, 2013

Can I Include My Wikipedia Page?

How often have you seen this old chestnut used when discussing hiring managers?

"They can't read, but they can certainly count."

Simple translation: When choosing between two similarly-qualified candidates, scuttlebutt suggests that the person with the most publications will advance to the next round of interviews. Of course, this begs another question...what counts as a "publication?"

Ask five scientists, and you'll get five different answers. Certainly, anything peer-reviewed merits inclusion. Ditto invited submissions, books, patents, reviews, or essays. But here's where the boundaries grow fuzzy. 

Can you include anything 'scholarly' on your CV to pad the stats?

[Insert embarrassing admission here]: I'm the guy who clicks on the "Show CV" link on faculty webpages. I find a strange (masochistic?) pleasure in comparing my career, such as it is, to those in similar age brackets or research areas. Certainly, these are folks who've played the game and won, so what do they choose to include? Here's a partial list: 

Publications "In press," "Accepted," "ASAP," "Proofs," "Submitted," "In Preparation"
Book Chapters
Conference Proceedings
Foreword / Introduction / Prologue
Newspaper or magazine articles
Book reviews
Research Summaries / Synopses
Blogs / Tweets / Comments

I'm sure I'm missing some; please suggest any others you've seen in the Comments section.

The simplest way to avoid any ethical boondoggles? Maintain separate lists of publications by type, or simply list "peer-reviewed" vs. "not." Will you be hired over the person who lumps 'em all together? 

Wish I knew.


  1. This may originate from University level promotion/tenure/etc. documentation. The colleges tend to have a 1-size-fits-all form meant to encompass all disciplines. "Lesser" (non peer-reviewed) work can be weighted highly or equally internally (especially by evaluators in non-science departments). I tend to maintain different CVs for different purposes, and parse out the different types of publications into defined bins.

  2. "In preparation" is the best. What about software?

  3. I think it's worth including a post or tweet if it was mentioned by a newsworthy paper, journal or website.

  4. I think what's important is the context. In this case, I'm pretty sure "publication" would refer to a "peer reviewed" submission that was published in a respected scientific journal.

    If an applicant promoted that they had published 32 papers and those papers turned out to be poems published in "Ole Possum's Lonely Kitty Poetry," that would suggest the applicant hasn't exactly been applying their attention to their scientific career. Compare that to another applicant who only published seven papers, but those papers were published in top journals and whose subject matter produced groundbreaking, if not science-changing, results. Who would you want to hire?

    I would suggest listing peer-reviewed journal publications, first. Books second, especially if they were well received in the scientific community, magazine articles, newspaper articles, and then other stuff.