Saturday, May 18, 2024

How, and why, to list preprints on your cv as a faculty job applicant

EcologyHow, and why, to list preprints on your cv as a faculty job applicant

Back in 2016, Meghan wrote a comprehensive post on how to format your cv for a faculty job application. Everything she said remains great advice today. But one thing she didn’t cover was preprints, because back in 2016 preprints weren’t yet much of a thing in ecology. Now they’re much more of a thing. So, as a faculty job applicant, should you list preprints on your cv? If so, why? And how?

Note that this post isn’t about whether or why you should post preprints. It’s just: if you do post preprints, should you list them on your cv? If so, why, and how?

My advice is that, if you are a faculty job seeker, you should list your preprints on your cv, in the same way that you would list a complete draft ms. If the preprint hasn’t yet been submitted to a journal, list it in the same subsection of your cv as other mss that haven’t yet been submitted (e.g., mss labeled as “ms in prep – draft available upon request”).

If you have a target journal in mind for the preprint, you can say something like “target journal: Ecological Applications.” See Meghan’s old post for discussion of good (and not so good) reasons to list the journal at which your preprint or other draft ms is targeted.

If the preprint has been submitted to a journal, list it in the subsection of your cv for papers in review.

Why list preprints on your cv as a faculty job seeker? For the same reason you list draft mss and ‘in review’ mss: to help give the search committee a sense of what you’re currently working on, and would plan to work on if hired. The search committee is trying to project your research program into the future. Your preprints, if you have them, give the committee information that helps them do that.

Note that you don’t list your preprints in order to pad your cv. By which I mean: you don’t list your preprints in the hopes of getting ‘partial credit’ for peer-reviewed papers that haven’t actually gotten through peer review and been accepted for publication yet. Search committees do care about your past research accomplishments. Those accomplishments are one important line of evidence as to what you would accomplish in future if hired. But posting a preprint doesn’t count as an accomplishment in the eyes of faculty search committees, at least not in my admittedly-anecdotal-but-not-inconsiderable experience. Search committees don’t give you any ‘partial credit’ for papers that haven’t yet gotten all the way through peer review. No, not even if the paper is posted as a preprint, rather than merely listed on your cv as a ‘draft ms available on request’. No, not even if the preprint has a DOI. No, not even if you say the preprint is targeted at Science or Nature.

Another possible reason for listing preprints on your cv is so that the search committee will give you credit for engaging in ‘open science.’ Certainly, if the job ad says that engagement in open science is a plus, then obviously you should list your preprints on your cv! (as well listing all the other open science things you’ve done) But if the job ad doesn’t say anything about open science one way or the other, then I doubt that the search committee is likely to care all that much that you demonstrate your commitment to open science by posting preprints. At least, not compared to how much they care about things like whether your research program is exciting, whether you can teach the classes you’re likely to be assigned to, etc. In general, search committees care much more about the science you do than about how you do it (e.g., whether you do it ‘openly’). See this old post of mine for more on this point. Again, just speaking from my own experience here, comments welcome.

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