Once we finish academia, there’s a chance you’ve published or produced a particular academic output in some way. This may come in the form of an academic paper, a poster, presenting at a conference, or possibly a book or book chapter. When it’s time to finally fly the nest and embark on a career outside of academia, we want to make sure we can emphasise this contributions to demonstrate our employability and broader skill set.
What is a Publication Portfolio?
Having said that however, the general recommendation is to not include a long list of publications on your résumé or CV as this actually takes up valuable space to emphasise more relevant things. Additionally, most non-academics won’t read it or won’t be able to fully appreciate it. Instead, this is where we recommend to transfer all of those accolades to a publication portfolio. This publication portfolio is therefore separate from your résumé or CV (similar to a cover letter in some ways), and can be surfaced on demand depending on when people are interested.
Your publication portfolio is effectively a collection of your publications, contributions to research, and academic outputs but in a document that is more aesthetically pleasing to the viewer.
What to include in a Publication Portfolio?
As mentioned above, your publication portfolio should be a list of your accolades and academic accomplishments that other people may be interested in. What you include here really depends on what you want your publication portfolio to achieve and who your audience is. If your looking at careers in writing or science communication – then you want to make sure you emphasise relevant skills such as publications, manuscripts, and more.
If you’re looking into other roles or some that may be in industry or not in academia, a more general approach is recommended and so including papers, posters, conference talks and more is a good idea. This helps to make it look more impressive to a lay-person and the breadth of outputs helps demonstrate more transferable skills.
With this in mind then, your publication portfolio should preferably be just one page. If you’re struggling with space, you can probably stretch it to two pages as the absolute limit. This shouldn’t be hard to achieve, in effect a publication portfolio is just an appendix or list of your academic work – a fancy reference list.
When listing and citing your academic contributions it’s important you emphasise yourself compared to the other authors/contributors. This is simple to do by putting your own name in bold so it really stands out. Secondly, you want to make sure you embed links and re-directs to that particular piece of work. If you’ve got a paper published, the reference should link to it. If you were a guest speaker at an event, link to the event. It doesn’t need to be the core focus on your publication portfolio – but it should be accessible by the reader if they wish to check it out some more.
How to design a Publication Portfolio?
Rather than putting together a publication portfolio that’s literally just a list of references in a word document, you want to channel your inner designer to really add some flair. The core objective here is to make your publication portfolio feel and appear as professional as possible. To achieve this, we recommend using Canva or similar platforms as they provide good templates, are easy for a non-coder or non-designer to use, and most importantly – it’s free!
In other posts we’ve discussed about using Canva and other tools to spice up your résumé and CV in a similar way. Using design tools here can really help you to stand out from the crowd. If this is an approach you’re going for, we recommend you ensure your publication portfolio and résumé/CV match so you have a consistent appearance throughout your application.
Additional Benefits of having a Publication Portfolio
At this stage, having a publication portfolio helps in two ways. Firstly, it reduces the space and jargon seen in your résumé and CV, helping you to get more impactful information on there and improve the chances of job search success. Secondly, it also provides an added professional element to your work and gives the audience/interviewer space to do some extra reading in their own time.
A point we haven’t quite discussed yet is the fact that this publication portfolio can also be used in other ways. As we approach the end to our academic careers it’s actually quite likely your PhD work or your contributions to still be lingering in the background. It’s not uncommon to be a guest speaker, share your learnings in the workplace, or maybe even explore other ventures outside of work where your PhD is more relevant.
In doing so, having a publication portfolio provides an added layer of credibility and a resource for these type of events. You don’t necessarily need to formally apply to be a guest speaker as it’s not a formal position. However, the organising event will want to know a bit more about you, your background, and ‘why’ you should be the one to act as an expert at an event. Having a professional publication portfolio to call upon can really help to address this question and instil confidence in the organiser.
The key thing to takeaway from this post is understanding the importance of presenting yourself in the best way possible in the world outside (and to be honest, inside) academia. Having a publication portfolio helps optimise your résumé and CV, improves credibility when applying for roles, and can also be a handy document in your back pocket when you start to explore other opportunities still connected to you research.
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