Yesterday's review of the research publications of a person who had written about closing down his lab due to lack of funding in this "unfair" grant award environment touched a nerve on at least one Reader. I assume it was uncomfortable for many of you to read.
It was uncomfortable for me to write.
You can tell because I felt compelled to slip in the odd caveat about my own record. I can write one of those reviews about my own career that would be equally, if not more, critical and uncomfortable.
No doubt more than one of you got the feeling that if I wrote a similar review of your record you would come up wanting ...or at least PhysioProffe would jump in to tell you how shitasse you are*. Certainly at least one correspondent expressed this feeling.
But that tinge of anxiety, fear and possibly shame that you feel should tell you that it is a good idea to perform this little review of yourself now and again. Good to try to step outside of your usual excuses to yourself and see how your CV looks to the dispassionate observer who doesn't know anything about your career other than the publication and NIH-award (or other grants, as relevant) record.
Do you have obvious weaknesses? Too few publications? Too few first/last author (as appropriate). Too few collaborations? Insufficiently high Journal Impact Factor points? Etc.
What is all of this going to say to grant reviewers, hiring committees or promotions committees?
Then, this allows you to do something about it. You can't change the past but you can alter the course of your future.
In some situations, like crafting the NIH Biosketch Personal Statement, you do actually have the opportunity to alter the past....not the reality but certainly the perception of it. So that is another place where the review of your CV helps. That voice of excuse-making that arises? Leverage that. You DO have reasons for certain weaknesses and perhaps other features of your CV help to overcome that if they are just pointed out properly.
*he wouldn't, btw.