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In the context of a PhD application, what is expected in a "detailed CV" please?

(24 Posts)
LauraAshleyDuvetCover Fri 04-Mar-16 22:46:30

I feel a bit in the dark!

I've done two other applications. One had an online form with questions/space to write about research projects/why you were interested etc. and then you uploaded a CV, transcript and referees added their references. The second was cover letter/CV/transcript and then the referees sent their references too.

This one just asks for a "detailed CV" and degree transcript. Should I do a sort of 'cover e-mail' anyway? I don't really know where to put why I'm interested in the studentship otherwise - I don't think that's the sort of thing that really goes in a CV is it? Also, I've been told it should never be more than two sides - if I have to add those sorts of extra information in I think I might struggle...

If it was going straight to the academic, I wouldn't worry so much, but it's going to an admin person first - I really don't want it to just get put aside because all the information isn't there. (I know the academic might still put it aside if that was the case, but a least I'd know they'd seen it!).

MedSchoolRat Sat 05-Mar-16 10:32:31

Is there no chance to submit extra documents?

My gut feeling is Put every last salient detail in there you can think of.
Yes it goes to Admin person first, but they are used to looking at long-winded academic CVs, won't expect something concise.
In our system the academics would do all the short listing, anyway, the Admin bots don't do any screening for us, they just coordinate procedure.
Yes do a brief cover email, but that is mostly about your contact details & who the documents all go to: short & simple & polite. Do a longer (1 pg) cover letter as word-doc for the academics to look at. The CV will be about what you've done & the cover letter will be about what you'd like to do, what you think your potential is, assuming you don't have a lot of work experience & publications already on CV.

Academics write & waffle a lot. Prove you're good at those things.

LauraAshleyDuvetCover Sat 05-Mar-16 18:21:33

Thank you smile That doesn't sound too bad then - the careers dept have terrified me into thinking it's a disaster to ever go over two sides of paper!

It literally says please e-mail us a detailed CV and academic transcript showing marks. It's not very much, is it? confused

Actually, that's one thing I'm a bit worried about - I have some very good exam marks (highlighted in my CV) and some really poor ones - but there were extenuating circumstances. I think my DoS has explained that in the reference, but since the references aren't sent this time should I explain somewhere? I haven't graduated yet, so can't just put a degree class. My DoS is away at the moment and I'm away at the beginning of next week for an interview, that's why I'm turning to mumsnet for help!

Lanark2 Sat 05-Mar-16 18:34:28

Do this.
Imagine what an academic wants to hear, and say that.
Hint. An academic wants to know quickly, are you impressive, have you considered the research topic/ area, and to know without doubt that you are interested in working in their research group. So be nice to them! Help them see all this, build a case. Oh yes, and send a copy to the academic(s) you have picked out as suitable research leads. Contact their postdoc by phone and generally open up a discussion about how the research group works.

Only tell them successes and prizes etc. Academics don't put 'fucked up an MRI machine' on their cv!

Do 'why I'm brilliant'(based on subject), (results, prizes, trust positions, offers of extea work), why I love the research area, and things i've done near/in it, why I like you as an academic/ the institutions specialisation, then demonstrate organisation, hobbies that show interest and application, then referees (get good names if you can, eg research high profile academics)

Don't be 'honest' be helpful.

NotDavidTennant Sat 05-Mar-16 19:20:01

Unless it specifically says "CV only, no cover letters" then just add a cover letter.

You could also include a section on your CV called "Statement of research interest" where you summarise what research you're interested and why, but keep it succinct.

Don't stick slavishly to two sides if it means leaving out important information (but again do keep the whole thing succinct).

Also, it sounds from your second post that you think they're not asking for references, but it's quite likely they will want references but are expecting them to already be included on your CV.

PolkadotsAndMoonbeams Sat 05-Mar-16 19:31:32

Thank you, I will definitely add a cover letter then!

I've never seen my references - I just have my referees' contact details on my CV, is that not the normal way of doing it? Happily, my referees (DoS and research project supervisor) are both in the field I'm applying for (and both have worked with the person I'm applying to).

LauraAshleyDuvetCover Sat 05-Mar-16 19:32:02

Oops, sorry for name change accident!

Lanark2 Sat 05-Mar-16 20:48:52

Yes, names of referees on academic cvs are normal. By the way, if it an admin freak reading the CVS and filtering, put your top courses and grades on them (assuming 2.1 and above) and don't put any below 2.1 ideally put 1st wherever you can. The usual filters are 2.1 and above, and relevance of degree..

flumpybear Sun 06-Mar-16 12:09:47

Hi - I'm from an academic background tho now in research management - for a PhD application I'd do a two page cv only - they will have a lot to read through and they need concise cv and applications. Sell yourself, put your successes not failures. Put why you're interested in this PhD specifically and how your education and experience would make you the best fit for the role.

I'd be inclined to ring the academic and ask if you can come in to chat about it (if it's not too far away) or email and ask for a telephone informal chat.

I'd be surprised if admin staff sort the PhD applications, what makes yo think they will? Tbh I am described as administrator but I am highly qualified and a high earner - administration means receptionist to the top manager of the university so don't assume it's a secretary filtering your applications - good luck !! By the way which uni? What's the field?

flumpybear Sun 06-Mar-16 12:11:52

'Admin freak' Lanark?! Seriously!

disquit2 Sun 06-Mar-16 13:16:59

Put your top courses and grades on them (assuming 2.1 and above) and don't put any below 2.1 ideally put 1st wherever you can.

Be quite careful about doing this. As an academic, I dislike applicants actively concealing things and degree transcripts will include complete marks anyhow. I want to see the full set of marks, not the edited set of stronger marks.

LauraAshleyDuvetCover Sun 06-Mar-16 14:28:25

disquit It currently says something like "averaging 67% across the degree with high marks in General Subject Modules (86, 82, 78, 76), Specific Course A (85) and Specific Course B (75). A full list of modules and marks are included on the attached transcript." Would you find that ok? I don't really want to put every single module on the CV because there are just so many (5 year integrated Master's, so there are twenty odd of them), and it seems a bit silly if you get to see them all on the transcript anyway!

I suppose it does hide my lower marks though - the others are mainly 60s, with a 40 and 52 when I was ill (but hopefully that will be obvious because they're taken in the same session, and my marks improve again afterwards? Although annoyingly, they're big courses that count for a high percentage of my degree, so pull my average down quite a lot).

flumpy I guessed it was going to some sort of admin because the e-mail address is I presumed they'd be doing the first cut, but could they just be passing them straight on?

I don't want to say too much, but it's a science at Oxbridge - asking if I can have a telephone call about it is probably a good idea, because it's miles away. For the others, one was at my university, so very easy to go for a chat! The second one was a DTC, so a bit more like applying for a job.

LauraAshleyDuvetCover Sun 06-Mar-16 14:37:07

Tbh, the careers department here hasn't been that useful - I went to see them in January, and they said I probably wouldn't get anything now. I should have speaking to people the academic year previously and to not expect to get anything for Sept/Oct this year. But the ones I'm applying to are all Sept/Oct starts and have only been advertised in the last couple of weeks (excepting the DTC)!

Sorry, just having a bit of a moan there.

flumpybear Sun 06-Mar-16 14:58:24

We're getting funding in even now for PhD studentships for September - it's tight for clinical ones but not so bad for non- clinical PhDs IMO

Lanark2 Sun 06-Mar-16 22:12:29

Don't say averaged 67% as this looks low, say the subject areas I excelled in are..then list your 85% and 75% etc. The key thing here is you want to be in the 'look at in more detail' pile not the 'obvious bin' file. If they see 85s and 75s they will go 'good pile' on a glance which is what you are aiming for.
Definitely contact academic and research group.

Lanark2 Sun 06-Mar-16 22:16:18

Have you done any:
Additional research in a research group, summer, hols etc?
Won any prize/funding ever?
Given responsibility.
All these things should be included! Even things like 'research poster awars' or 'online profile commendation'

Lanark2 Sun 06-Mar-16 22:51:55

Also your careers team are totally incorrect. Some periods in the year are slightly better, but science depts recruit year round, sometimes create funding for good candidates, and most academics manage their funds so they could take you on at any point in the year. Dtcs are often over rather than underfunded and may need research from more than one department so research what they are looking for more carefully. Also I think EPSRC will have more information about specific dtcs so try them too..

disquit2 Mon 07-Mar-16 08:25:33

Science depts recruit year round, sometimes create funding for good candidates, and most academics manage their funds so they could take you on at any point in the year.

This isn't true in my STEM field. Virtually all funding is allocated in the Feb-April period (with a very few late acceptances in May/June) and a candidate would have to be absolutely remarkable to be given funding outside that time frame.

I think you need to contact people in your own field for advice because I completely disagree with Lanark on other issues too: for me, not mentioning your overall average would likely be a big negative, as it indicates lack of honesty.

disquit2 Mon 07-Mar-16 08:40:34

Tbh, the careers department here hasn't been that useful - I went to see them in January, and they said I probably wouldn't get anything now.

But why were you talking to the careers department rather than your own lecturers, who work in the field of research of interest?

As posts here have shown, there are enormous variations between research fields. Our careers department wouldn't have a clue about PhD positions in my STEM field; on other hand, academics would always be happy to advise. Academics in your own field should also know about relevant DTCs.

LauraAshleyDuvetCover Mon 07-Mar-16 12:54:46

The careers department were doing drop in "check your CV" sessions - which I thought might be useful. They're a careers department attached specifically to my subject, so I thought they'd be helpful (and being fair, they were pretty good when I was applying for a year in industry - I think they might be better at 'job' career advice (if that makes sense) rather than academic career advice).

I've applied/am applying to four - one was a suggestion from my project supervisor, one was the DTC which a family friend (in academia) who's taken students from it before suggested I apply for, one was forwarded to me by my DoS who thought I'd be interested, and one I just found whilst browsing.

If I made my CV a bit less identifying, would any of you be willing to look and give a quick opinion? Obviously it seems that different people are looking for different things, but if most of you think it's ok then I'd feel a bit happier about sending it...

MedSchoolRat Tue 08-Mar-16 08:32:52

Academics want longer not shorter CVs as a rule, we can read fast wink. 2 pgs too short very often smile. Mine must be about 5 pgs before the publications list.

impostersyndrome Wed 16-Mar-16 20:11:13

I recruit PhDs (though not lab science) and I what I'd normally expect to see is something like 'expected 2.1' if you haven't got your award yet, with the transcript sent along separately. If you've done a Master's dissertation, that'd be something to highlight the grade for, but it looks as though that's still pending. If you're in the midst of your Master's dissertation at the moment, do add a line on the topic, if that's going to be relevant. I would hope your referrees will be able to comment on your potential and highlight any gaps in your transcript - for me, the odd low mark wouldn't be a concern as long as you are expected to get a good solid A on your dissertation and that your referrees are clear on your potential to do research.

Other than that, I'm going to confuse you further by saying that I'm not strict on two pages maximum, but don't waffle on for too many pages and for goodness sake proofread like mad!

I also couldn't care less about your hobbies, unless they're directly relevant to the subject.

I would add a cover letter carefully crafted to highlight why you're interested in the research area, group, supervisors etc; indicating how your own interests are a good match. The worst that can happen is that it's not passed on, but it can make all the difference.

n.b. Have you checked '' if you're casting the net widely for a funded PhD? you'll find most, if not all, are advertised there.

Good luck!

LauraAshleyDuvetCover Mon 21-Mar-16 15:47:22

Thank you for your replies - sorry, this had dropped off my TIO somehow.

Well, I'm holding an offer, have interviewed for the DTC and am waiting to hear back and have been e-mailing back and forth with the other two - one (ironically the one with the detailed CV I was asking you about) I've decided not to go for - the description said it focussed on two areas, but it's massively weighted towards the area I'm not as interested in.

I still have hobbies/interests on there because they highlight organisation/team work/discipline, but I should probably think about replacing it with a skills section? I think I'm at that awkward in-between stage where I have some good academic stuff, but still have to use other things for my competency/softer skills experience.

impostersyndrome Mon 21-Mar-16 20:34:08

Congrats on the offer!

Id go for skills (and qualifications) over hobbies. Obviously depends on the discipline what's important to list, but I'd always like to see advanced stats, In my field. Also, have you got any web design or project management experience? Anything generic like that which would be relevant to the sort of contribution you can make from the get go.

Don't bother with listing MS office though. To me it seems like a place filler, unless it's one of the more obscure packages, like MS Project (for the same reasons as above!)

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