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Posted on: 31/05/2024

Enabling Future Research Leaders – Compiling a R4RI for your FLF application

UKRI is asking you to use the Resumé for Research and Innovation (R4RI) for the ‘Applicant capability to deliver’ section of the FLF application. You can find out more about the rationale behind narrative CVs – the umbrella term for this kind of document – in this blog post. Here, Kate Murray, from the Action Research for Research Culture project at the University of Cambridge, provides some insights to get you started with the R4RI.

Given the looming deadline, you probably have at least made a start on the R4RI for your FLF application. In my role as a careers consultant for researchers, I’ve read a lot of applications both for jobs and for funding, and below I’ve pulled together thoughts on how you might develop your approach in polishing this application and others to come.

 

Context

You need to use R4RI to demonstrate your ‘aptitudes and skills’ under the four module headings. This means you need to perform a very tricky juggling act of using the sections given to showcase your contributions and achievements and at the same time demonstrate you have the right skills to deliver your project.

It’s a bit like weaving with the warp threads being your experiences, and the weft threads being your skills and aptitudes.

You can find out more about which skills and aptitudes to evidence by going to Annex A of this guidance document.  You’re still going to need to infer some of these, as the Annex doesn’t have the list of competencies you would see in a traditional person specification. Here are some I found in it: leadership, communication, planning, being opportunity-facing, able to build collaborations, being ambitious and creative.

 

A summary of my advice would be to:

  • Spend some time considering what you think are the appropriate skills and aptitudes, using the Annex document
  • Think about the other assessment criteria FLF reviewers will be using (for example, look at the ‘What the assessors are looking for in your response’ information, under ‘Vision and Approach’ in ‘How to Apply’)
  • Find examples from your past experiences that showcase at least some of these skills and aptitudes
  • Spread your examples between the four modules (NB it clearly says to not use the ‘Additions’ section for any new information about skills)
  • Use just two key examples per module, three at most (there really aren’t many words)
  • Use an introductory sentence for each module to indicate why you are including the specific material under each module heading
  • Remember that your writing style could also be seen as indicative of some of the skills required! Be active, reflective, and clear.

 

Finding examples

Narrative CVs aren’t expecting you to do more ‘stuff’, just trying to help you show what you have actually done that might not normally be visible and therefore not normally valued. So think about why your example is significant in your context and at your career stage.

It probably helps to work with a peer – or a careers consultant for researchers if you have one available – to tease out all your various activities and fit them to the Module headings. Use post-its and move them around. Online noticeboards like Padlet or Miro might be helpful if there’s a few of you working on this, so you can support each other.

Need some inspiration? Take a read of this Researcher Impact Framework guide, from Trinity College Dublin – especially page 12 onwards.

Fig 1: Excerpt from the Researcher Impact Framework guide, showing examples of possible evidence you might look for in Module 2

 

Finding structure

Borrowing from this excellent guidance document from the University of Oxford, be very structured in your paragraphs:

Fig 2: Excerpt from the University of Oxford’s narrative CV guidance document, relating to Module 1

 

We could interpret this structure as:

  • Context
  • Action
  • Result

The Oxford guidance has suggestions for the other modules too; if you’re a social science or arts and humanities researcher, then you will probably need to adapt their suggestions a little to fit your experiences.

 

A question of evidence?

People I’ve talked to in Narrative CV workshops are often concerned about how to provide impact and results. They often worry that there isn’t ‘proper’ evidence for their claims.

They are anxious, too, that often their work is the result of team work – not theirs alone – and feel uncomfortable making claims about their own individual input.

By all means use metrics where you can, or mention that you were invited back to deliver something, or include a tiny amount of feedback. Perhaps you can say that your innovation continued in the department, even after you moved on.

Don’t forget that this is just a small part of the whole overall application. It is not judged in isolation. You will be able to provide more details, if asked, in an interview at a later stage in the process. But perhaps do start to think about how you could collate evidence of your own individual contributions as projects progress.

 

Choosing language carefully

One of the criticisms levelled at the narrative CV is that it will benefit those people who are fluent in written English and not afraid to write about themselves positively.

If you feel that these might be issues you face, here’s three things you might want to do:

  • Work with a peer or buddy to help you recognise and identify those examples that you might naturally ‘just do’ as part of your job
  • Use the ‘Oxford structure’ so that you are presenting your work as objectively as possible – not forgetting the result/impact
  • Think carefully about using active verbs (achieved, created, completed, designed, resolved), partly to be efficient in the word count, but also to ensure your part of the project is put across effectively.

You might like to read this blog post by a senior academic applying for an ERC grant, to help understand how someone else approached this issue.

 

And finally….

Funders have been very careful to not distribute examples of successful narrative CV applications. They don’t want to limit people’s own imaginations when it comes to what one should look like – this is an attempt to value individuals, after all. The Marie Curie Alumni Association has set up a peer review platform, so you may like to take a look at that.

I also don’t have an example of a successful FLF application to share with you. But this paragraph, used with consent and from a candidate in the ARRC experiment, addressing Module 4 (‘contribution to broader society’), might give you something to work on.

 

Fig 3: Excerpt from ARRC participant application, Module 4

 

You can see the structure maps neatly onto Context, Action, Result. Its language is plain, simple but clear. It is evident that the applicant has tried to separate out their own tasks from that of the medical doctor, to show their contribution to the project.

Collaboration is one of the skills identified in Annex A, and an example like this would work reasonably well in an FLF application, though more specifics could be beneficial. I would want to see something further about any agreements they put in place to make the collaboration effective, for example.

Good luck with your FLF applications!

 

Kate Murray is careers consultant to the ARRC project, which is researching three topics directly affecting postdoc careers. Follow us on LinkedIn to keep up to date with the project and take a look at our outputs, resources (including narrative CV FAQs) and publications here.

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