Post Academic

Real-life academic examples of CV fudging

Posted in Absurdities,The Education Industry by Arnold Pan on October 5, 2010
Tags: , ,

So writing that Christine O’Donnell post the other day made me think about some examples of CV fudging and credentials padding I’ve seen over the years.  We’ve actually written quite a lot about CVs and resumes, and we’d like to think it was practical, helpful, only semi-bitter advice we were giving here and here and here.

"Variety of fudge at a shop" by benjgibbs (Creative Commons license)

But today we’re going to totally snark out and focus on some of our pet peeves with what people try to do with their CVs.  Alright, I’m not above admitting that I’ve partaken in a little CV fact stretching myself, although it was done in all sincerity and with the best intentions that what I was embellishing was going to really, really come to fruition — like most everyone else!  Really, I’m not impugning anyone here, because the CV arms race, like everything pertaining to the academic job search, can really get out of hand, forcing first-few-time jobseekers to put undue pressure on themselves to come up with unreasonable expectations of what they need on a vita, especially when it comes to publications.

Here are a few cases of CV padding that walk a fine line, even though they can seem totally legit once you find a way to justify them.  And if you can get it past a search committee’s BS sensor, more power to you!

Ph.D. expected: There are probably degrees of fudging here, from absolute fantasy to fairly possible possibility, depending a lot on when you dip your toe in the shark-infested job market.  I should know, because this applied to me in the 2 years I applied for jobs before finishing my degree.  The first time was a just a shot in the dark, the idea being that I would actually complete my diss when I claimed I would if I got a job — hey, it worked for some of my friends, so why not give it a try?  No matter that the “finished” product would be crappy, and I had no idea how strongly my committee would vouch that I could do it in their recs.

Later, though, I really could’ve gotten everything done under the flexible degree expected deadline, which made me more antsy to land a t/t position, because I started worrying that a finished diss was diss whose expiration date was coming closer and closer.  Now with a 3+ year old Ph.D., I wish I could reverse date fudge and somehow make my degree look newer and fresher!

More fudging pet peeves below the fold…


Christine O’Donnell and fudging your resume

Since we were on the topic of politics this week, have you heard about the resume padding scandal involving GOP Delaware Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell, who seems to represent her whole own kind of crazy?  Talking Points Memo has been all over what it’s calling “LinkedIn Gate”, which involves O’Donnell fudging the education line of her resume.  The main issue in question is a line on her resume that she earned a “Certificate in Post Modernism in the New Millennium” at the University of Oxford, which sounds a little sketchy to begin with.  Anyway, O’Donnell’s campaign came up with some kind of lame conspiracy explanation that someone put up a fake LinkedIn account to discredit her, but HuffPo checked with ZoomInfo about identical education info posted there and found out that the bio was verified by O’Donnell.

"Mmmm fudge!" by Brampton cyclist (Creative Commons license)

This opened up a bigger can of worms for O’Donnell, especially when TPM went digging and asked the “Claremont Institute”, also listed on her resume, about her application to see if it included the Oxford certificate.  In turn, TPM learned that the her participation in a one-week program at the “Claremont Institute” was embellished, which, one presumes, includes the vague idea that the conservative think-tank would be connected to the Claremont Colleges, which it isn’t. Now we go further down the rabbit hole of O’Donnell’s imaginary education, since, per Politico, she hadn’t actually received her undergrad diploma from Farleigh Dickinson until this September, even though she has been calling herself a graduate of the school.  Apparently, she had an elective to finish up and owed the school $4000 in tuition — fudging the degree is one thing, but owing tuition money can’t bode well for her Tea Party bona fides, if there is such a thing, can it?

Going back to what started this whole thing off, the Oxford certificate, the line stretches the meaning of “at Oxford” to its extremes, since she earned a certificate from a three-week program called the “Phoenix Institute” that seems to rent space from Oxford and isn’t officially affiliated with Oxford.  O’Donnell’s “Oxford” “tutor”, currently an Oxford Ph.D. candidate and prof somewhere in Nicaragua, apparently raves about her, describing her as “intelligent, engaged, dynamic, good with questions and interested in ideas” and his course as stacking up to “any graduate school at any university.”  All this brings to my mind those “Oxford Round Table” solicitations I’ve received in my inbox before, which set off warning bells by asking for an exorbitant fee before you read the fine print that it’s not connected to Oxford.  Have you gotten those?  It’s kinda like the elitist Ph.D. version of the Phoenix Institute for more advanced scholars to, it seems, buy an Oxford conference paper to put on your CV at a cost of a few thousand bucks.  If I’m right or wrong about this and someone has attended, please comment below.  I just know that if my invite to something at Oxford involves a company in Kentucky, I’m questioning if it’s legit.

All this begs the question of just why is Oxford letting it’s name be used for all these dubious enterprises, especially when you’d think that Oxford would be protecting its brand and/or too snobby to let just anyone co-opt it, right?  And anyone who’s following the O’Donnell saga has to be wondering when she would’ve had the time to get all these “degrees”, since it seems like she spent much of the late 1990s on Bill Maher’s “Politcally Incorrect” and “MTV News”.