CV doctoring is such a flagrant case of academic addiction that even addicts most heavily into denial will admit that it points suspiciously at addiction--or at least a problem. That is why it is essential to move beyond specific doctorings--for example, adding in a conference paper that was actually on the program, but that you never delivered because you were unable to attend the conference due to a family emergency--to a more fruitful consideration of whether there is such a thing as an undoctored CV.

Epistemologically speaking (never denying for a moment our own addiction to academic discourse), a CV is always a distortion of the realities it purports to record. Never mind the obvious fact that CVs regularly exclude little things like reprimands from chairs and deans, negligence on committees, late submission of grades, failure to write promised letters of recommendation by deadlines, and the like (not to mention extracurricular foibles)--even though a "curriculum vitae" is literally the course of your life, your whole life.

More important, even apparently indisputable "facts" like books and articles published do not cover ancillary "facts" like inaccurate citations, unread sources, the use of secretarial and work-study help in preparing, photocopying, etc., theft of graduate student research, unconscious plagiarism of published sources (remember Helen Keller), neglect of family and friends, and so on.

Another blatant distortion in any CV is the flat affect of a simple line item--a book or article title, a fellowship or grant acceptance--that utterly belies the emotional investment you had in getting the piece published, the grant accepted, and then in flaunting your success to colleagues, students, family members, and neighbors (who do not understand what your success means and could not care less if they did). To give away such affective information in a CV would be tantamount to admitting you're an addict; to "flatten" such information into terse one-line facts, even though such flattening is "prescribed" by academic convention, is to "doctor" your CV just as surely as if you had added something that you never did.

Back to Am I An Addict?

Copyright 1993 Doug Robinson and Bill Kaul