Posted on July 8th, 2018 by Raidell Avello Martínez
Author Raidell Avello Martínez – Translation: Erika-Lucia Gonzalez-Carrion
Most researchers at some point in their career have to write a “biographical note”. The biographical note is a small verbal “selfie” that goes with a chapter of a book, a journal article or, sometimes, a conference presentation. The biographical note gives the reader key information about you, the author. Most biographical notes are short. Its length can vary, but most often it has a limit of 100-150 words. Therefore, there is not neither much space to communicate much about you, nor there is much space to be creative.
Many doctoral and early career researchers struggle with biographical notes: they believe they have nothing to say about themselves that is particularly remarkable. But quite often, when you look at the biographical notes, for example, at the beginning of an edited book that lists all the collaborators, they are the researchers of the first stage who write the most. Most experienced researchers write less about themselves. This is maybe because they do not feel anxious, or maybe they think that a lot of people already know who they are. The biographical note has multiple purposes, among which are included:
(1) a small service for the reader. The biographical note helps the reader to locate the writing, whether chapter, article or book. When the reader understands the key points about the writer, he/she has an idea of where the argument comes from in the text, and perhaps some of the reasons why the text has been written. Upon discovering the motivations and experiences of the author, the reader can, if desired, see the text as something that is located in time, space and an ongoing research agenda.
(2) a way to add “informal credibility” to published material. Or as a service for the editor. Editors like to show that the books or articles they publish are written by people of good reputation who have done research at a real university or a social research organization, or who are a legitimate and independent researcher. One of the forms that publishers use is the biographical note, as a kind of guarantee, as a way to show the origin of the text.
Of course, thinking about the reader also indicates that there could be different biographical notes for different readers. The biological notes not only change over time for the author’s own development, they also change because different readers may be interested in different things and it may be important to highlight some things and not others. Although all the biographical notes of the same author can start in the same way, with the name, what there is and what comes later varies.
Although there is no recipe for writing the biographical notes, at least I will end up with some elements that must be expressed in them:
- name, perhaps qualifications if relevant and / or expected
- current institutional affiliation, if any, and what is your work (what is the work you have done and what you are doing – research, teaching, administration, etc.)
- your doctoral research and your topic, along with where it was done, if you have done so your broader research interests.
- your previous professional history if relevant.
- a publication, if there is more than one, list the best or both. (If this is your first publication, do not feel bad, we all have to start somewhere, and we all had a first publication).
- social networks
Group that information in a few sentences and that’s it. Also, since the biographical note is only headlines, it does not have to be long. It does not have to occupy all the words. It is not all there is. It’s not all you’ve done. It’s just a self-portrait taken on a particular day to do a particular job.