Every time I need to write a bio for a conference or a paper, I rush it and I’m never happy.
A bit of quick googling revealed this great post at GradHacker from about two years ago. Unfortunately (for me), the GradHacker post is directed at, obviously, PhD students and very recent graduates so is fairly focussed on “how to present your brief academic career in the best light”. Presenting a slightly longer academic career in 100-200 words (or as little as 50, sometimes!) is its own problem.
GradHacker’s advice is good, though:
First, three big picture things to keep in mind that will pretty much always outweigh any smaller, more specific tips: context, audience, and purpose.
And these matter, because:
Context, audience, and purpose matter because they should help you decide what information about yourself you’ll want to emphasize. With these three points in mind, you’ll want to think about things like: What kinds of information will my audience be looking for in this particular context? What kinds of information will my audience be interested in for this particular context? Is my tone/style appropriate for this context/audience/purpose?
I’ve been thinking about academic bios because tomorrow, my college Lindy Osborne and I are presenting at QUT’s Higher Education Research Network Symposium and I had to write a bio for that. We’re giving a workshop on Shut Up and Write, so I tailored my bio in that direction. Here it is:
Dr Ben Kraal is a research fellow with the People and Systems Lab in the Creative Industries Faculty at QUT. His research interest is ethnomethodology of systems and services, particularly in healthcare, though his recent focus has been airports. He is an enthusiastic writer, until the time comes to commit pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, when he needs all the help he can get, often in the form of a tomato.
I think I’ve managed to get the context, audience and purpose fairly right. It’s a bit glib, I guess, but the conference organizer liked it.
What do you think makes a good academic bio?