Preparation Stories + Advice

Communicating Research on Your Resume

As a graduate student in the liberal arts and sciences, there’s a good chance that you spend most of your time researching. You may be working on a seminar paper, putting together a prospectus, or writing your master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation all while picking up valuable skills.

So how can you communicate it on a resume?

Many graduate students are familiar with the CV, a document that is focused on communicating outcomes, credentials, and achievements. There, you simply list the titles of your research projects, like your dissertation, conference papers, and publications. But CV lists don’t communicate all the great work that you did that resulted in your accomplishments.

That’s where your resume comes in. Beyond academic jobs and fellowships, you’ll be submitting a resume for just about every job or internship you apply to, whether it’s in government, tech, finance, film, or any other industry. It’s on your resume that you’ll be communicating your skills.

And, before we go any further: yes, your research experience is a totally valid entry on your resume. All of your experiences as a graduate student are valid and should be included.

Okay–but how? Luckily, there’s a useful formula for translating your research experience onto a resume. It’s called the P-A-R Method, which stands for Project, Action, Result:

  • Project: What did you do?
  • Action: What actions did you take?
  • Result: What was the result or outcome of your contribution? Or, what purpose did your actions serve? 

I’ll use my experience as an example. My doctoral research focused on early modern British and Irish history, so naturally, a resume bullet point could look something like this:

  • Researched early modern British and Irish History to write a dissertation on seventeenth century universities 

We’ve got an action verb (“Researched”), which communicates the skill I exercised. We’ve got the project (“Researched early modern British and Irish History”). And we’ve got the result, or in this case, the sense of purpose (“to write a dissertation”). 

But this is still vague–what went into my research? Research can be multifaceted, involving technology, collaboration, organization, and more. We exercise a ton of skills while doing research. Reflecting back on my own experience, “research” can be broken down into:

  • Analyzed and transcribed hundreds of pages of seventeenth-century manuscript and printed correspondence, state papers, and university records to address research questions 
  • Organized thousands of primary sources using Zotero database to code and collate research
  • Collaborated with mentor and dissertation committee on pursuing research leads, drafting papers, and editing manuscripts
  • Translated French- and Scots-language texts into English to better analyze primary sources
  • Engaged with archivists, librarians, and university staff in several different countries to identify relevant sources of inquiry 

This is a more comprehensive picture of what graduate research can entail, and even within that research, we are able to get a sense of additional skills and strengths: critical thinking and analysis; organization; collaboration; and intercultural and language. 

So, when communicating your research in a resume bullet point, don’t sell yourself short! You have a whole lot to offer. If you’re stuck on which action verbs to use, consult our list of examples. Also, be sure to check out our other resume resources, including samples and formatting guides.

And, remember, you can get your resume reviewed at the Career Center! We look forward to helping you communicate the great skills that you have effectively and clearly.

Salvatore Cipriano
– By Salvatore Cipriano, Assistant Director, Career Education

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