It’s never too early, or too late, to start building yourself an impressive academic portfolio – see our step-by-step guide.
WHAT IS AN ACADEMIC PORTFOLIO?
An academic portfolio is an organised collection of documents, materials and personal statements showcasing your individual academic record. It is designed to show your:
- academic research directions
- teaching/education philosophies
- service activities
- skills and abilities
- career progress
Unlike a CV or résumé, an academic portfolio requires you to self-assess, evaluate, interrelate and reflect upon most aspects of your academic life.
A PORTFOLIO HELPS YOU…
- Secure research grants, mentorships or scholarships (see our list).
- Continue academia as a graduate/masters/PHD student or researcher.
- Get hired for an academic position by an institution.
- Gain a competitive edge in the job market.
- Efficiently prepare for the promotion process.
- Reflectively organise, analyse and self-assess your professional development over time.
STEP 1 – GET STARTED
Begin recording, gathering & selecting portfolio material.
Collect lecture notes, worksheets, peer-evaluations, videos of your presentations… anything that highlights your academic ability! Showcase a rich breadth of knowledge – but carefully consider each document. Select your strongest, most relevant material.
Research target criteria.
Depending on the institution, criteria may differ. Research your target institution’s values, expectations and missions, then tailor your portfolio accordingly.
Use clear presentation.
Present the nature of your research using simple terms and easy-to-understand language. This ensures that readers outside your discipline won’t find your portfolio confusing or unclear. Include Page Numbers, a Table of Contents and an Appendix.
STEP 2 – STRUCTURE YOUR PORTFOLIO
Whilst portfolios can be highly individualised, they typically follow similar structures:
Typical Length: 1/2 to 1 page
Basic information: include contact & background information, record of education.
A Personal Statement: introduce yourself. Briefly reflect upon your academic rationale.
RESEARCH & SCHOLARSHIP ACTIVITIES
Typical Length: 5-6 pages
Introduce the Nature of Your Research: describe your research experience, philosophies, ethics, methods, results and overall academic mission. Provide, annotate and reflect upon materials – past and current projects, abstracts, field notes, research proposals, excerpts from papers you’re currently developing, etc. Evidence collaborative research/team skills. Reflect upon past, current and future research goals.
Academic Achievements: describe any accredited grants, scholarships, honours, research funds or awards received.
Published Works: list your publication contributions (articles, journals, peer reviewed academic papers). Provide samples.
Discuss Academic Community Activities: spoken at conferences? Performed guest lectures, public readings or presentations? Assumed a leadership position in an academic space? Evidence, discuss, reflect.
TEACHING AND LEARNING ACTIVITIES
Typical Length: 5-6 pages
Statement on Teaching Philosophy, Responsibility & Ethics: reflect upon what ‘teaching’, ‘learning’ and ‘being a student’ means to you.
Reflect upon your Teaching Methodologies: acted as a student-teacher? Tutor? Mentor? Workshop runner? Indicate your ability, strategies and methods as an educator. If possible, include evidence of teaching materials or curricular revisions, including any lecture or lesson transcripts, powerpoint slides, handouts, syllabi or student coursework you’ve set, created, influenced or changed.
Include Peer Evaluations: integrate observer notes, feedback from students (evaluations, testimonials, positive email correspondences, thank you letters, etc), research partners (honours, statements of recommendation, etc) and/or colleagues. Annotate materials, include personal reflections.
Typical Length: 2-3 pages
Indicate Involvements: participating in institutional, community or student committees/task forces? Extracurricular activities (eg. team sports) or volunteer work? What leadership positions/roles have you upheld? For what qualities were you chosen?
Reflect upon your Personal Contributions: list performed duties. How have you made a constructive difference within your committee, community, team or organisation (etc)?
Show material: include references from community members, peers or teammates (peer evaluations, positive correspondences, testimonials, etc), evidences of community service (flyers, handouts, public presentation documents), committee contributions (minutes, report drafts, etc) and/or special awards, honours or recognitions received during service.
CONCLUDING PERSONAL REFLECTION
Typical Length: 1-2 pages
Tie everything together: overall, how have your teaching, research and service activities impacted upon your practice and personal/professional development? How have they shaped you? Influenced you? How do they challenge you to grow?
Reiterate 3 noteworthy accomplishments: briefly reinforce your proudest professional/academic moments.
Indicate 3 future goals: sum up, evidencing your forward thinking, passionate pursuits.
STEP 3 – CONSIDER HOW TO PRESENT YOUR PORTFOLIO
Portfolios can be presented digitally (a website, electronic folder) or physically (printed files, booklets, etc). Always ask what is expected from your target institution.
STEP 4 – REVIEW, REASSESS, RENEW!
Remember – your portfolio should grow and develop with you.
Evaluate and update your portfolio at the end of every year (or even six months).