PLoS ONE and stupid CV tricks

September 13, 2012

One of my first posts on the academic CV noted that you should actively manage how it *looks*.

My suggestion is, if you expect to have a career you had better have a good idea of what the standards are. So do the research. Do compare your CV with those of other scientists. What are the minimum criteria for getting a job / grant / promotion / tenure in your area? What are you going to do about it? What can you do about it? Don’t misunderstand me- nobody is going to hand you a job / grant / etc just because you hit the modal publication numbers. But it will be very easy for you to be pushed out of the running if you do NOT hit the expected values. So do what you can to keep your CV as competitive as possible.

Meaning that more is better, yes, when it comes to publications. But beyond that, that you should have some idea of the expectations for your field. Especially when it comes to first-author vs. multi-author collabs, senior author vs penultimate vs communicating author, IF cachet, etc.

My advice was to seek balance and to work actively to fill the holes. A little down in one area, such as productivity? Then slice the sausage a little thinner. Have plenty of pubs but not enough first-author? Get a little more selfish in the lab this year. Etc.

One issue that requires longer term planning is the publication year consistency. I.e. all else equal it is good to have a steady rate with publications in each calendar year (which is a major part of the citation, very salient.). Obviously subfields vary and so do journals. You should have some idea of the lag time from acceptance to print publication so that you can predict what calendar year a given submission of yours might hit.

For many of the most rapid of my subfield’s usual journals, if you aren’t submitting by Apr-May there’s no chance for that year. For some, even Mar would be a stretch…and for others, 12-18 mo from accept to print is quite possible.

If you have a steady manuscript submit rate, are deep into your career and are the PI- none of this really matters. You have a steady pipeline going and all is well. For the rest of us however…

Sometimes you want to do what you can to shore up *this* calendar year on the CV.

Since PLoS goes to official pub date quite rapidly after acceptance (none of this pre-publication queuing business) this makes it attractive for submitting late in the year.