Writing Your Professional Summary: Researchers

Your professional summary describes your research to prospective students and collaborators and members of the media. It appears on your faculty profile on the medical school website.

Follow these guidelines to write a professional summary that communicates your expertise clearly to non-specialists.

Consult these sample professional summaries for examples.

Content

Provide sufficient—and sufficiently clear—detail. Briefly describe the research techniques and tools you use as well as your topic. Students want to know what you do so they can judge what they might do as part of your lab. Potential collaborators and members of the media want to gauge at a glance whether you have expertise they need.

Include at least one sentence indicating the goal(s) and importance of your work: Will your work help to develop new kinds of antibiotics? What specific kinds of people does your work help (expecting mothers, MS patients, people in underserved communities)?

Include special features of your lab: do you strive for an international lab, e.g.? Are trainees at all levels welcome to work with you?

Organization

Use separate paragraphs for each topic within your profile. If you’re involved in two research efforts, describe each one in its own paragraph. If you practice as a clinician and conduct research, use one paragraph to describe your research and one to describe your clinical expertise and approach.

Style

Write no more than 300 words.

Use clear, plain-English sentences.

Use first-person pronouns (I, my lab, my research) throughout.

Use strong, active verbs wherever possible.

  • Passive verb: A goal of my work is to develop vaccines for. . .
  • Changed to an active verb: My work pursues vaccine development for. . .
  • Passive verb: Breast-feeding is well documented to protect against a variety of infections.
  • Changed to active verbs: Previous research shows that breast-feeding protects infants against infections.

Do not capitalize areas of research or practice. Use bacteriology and cardiology, not Bacteriology or Cardiology.

Do not repeat what readers will see in your faculty profile, e.g., schools attended. The professional summary is meant to complement the rest of the profile, not repeat it. Repetition quickly turns away readers.

Coordinating with Your Complete eCV

When something is missing from your profile, students assume it doesn’t exist. Use eCV’s full capabilities to back up your professional summary with greater detail. List all your publications, grants, activities and achievements in the appropriate categories and update this information regularly.

Use the Expertise field to expand on research you describe in your professional summary, detailing your methodologies, techniques and areas of inquiry for readers who want this information. This information will appear in your faculty profile under the Research tab, immediately above your grants.

Faculty in the basic sciences should use the Specialties category to specify their Specialty/Research Focus.

Do not list titles of your publications in your professional summary. Go to the Publications section in eCV and follow the directions there for importing your publications automatically from PubMed/Medline. Readers will then be able to refer to them easily for greater detail on your work as well.

Do not provide time-sensitive information such as pending grants for projects. The information in your professional summary should be able to remain current for at least a year. Do, however, give full details for all your ongoing grants under Grants.