How to Handle 'In Process' Work
Both graduate students entering the job market and junior faculty members undergoing departmental review or applying for tenure often have questions about how to formally and ethically report their progress on unpublished projects. On the one hand, you want to provide an understandable record of the work you have completed, which may not yet be formally published but might also be well into the publication process. On the other hand, you must guard against any perception that you are attempting to inflate your C.V. or represent unfinished work as finished, or as further along in the publication process than it actually is.
Here I’ll use a sample scholarly article to illustrate how one might list a piece of scholarship currently undergoing review. Let’s pretend that I’ve just finished an article describing my earth-shattering research into the philosophical lives of puppies, titled "Into the Canine Navel: A Case Study of the Meta-Introspective Habits of Maremma Sheepdog Puppies," and that I’ve submitted it to my discipline’s premier journal, The Esteemed Journal of Puppy Ontology. Here are the various ways I would list my article at different stages of the review process, and the rationale for each:
Submitted for Initial Review or, more simply, Submitted — I prefer the longer of the two terms because it’s more specific and seems to eliminate possible misunderstandings. Experienced faculty members will know when they see this categorization on your C.V. that the article you’ve submitted has not yet undergone an initial round of review and that you have not received feedback on the piece. Perhaps the editor won’t even see fit to send it out to editorial board members for review. More than anything else, this status says of your article, "Hey, I think I finished something, and I sent it out into the world," but the jury is very much still out. It is important, though, to show that you are completing work and sending it out for review.
"Into the Canine Navel: A Case Study of the Meta-Introspective Habits of Maremma Sheepdog Puppies." The Esteemed Journal of Puppy Ontology. (Submitted for Initial Review)
Revised and Resubmitted — An article that is listed as “revised and resubmitted” has undergone its initial round of double-blind peer review and the author has been invited to make changes and submit it for additional consideration. The fact that an editor asked you to make revisions indicates that there is promise in the project, and the editor (and reviewers) can see the possibility of publishing the article, but don’t yet believe that it is up to standard or a good fit for the journal. An invitation to revise and resubmit is good, but no guarantee. There is, of course, a period of limbo between the time an author is invited to resubmit an article and the time it takes to make revisions and resubmit the article for further consideration. It would be poor form to list an article as "Revised and Resubmitted" if you have not actually completed your revisions of the article. You might, if you are caught in the limbo period and need to list the work on job materials, list works in that exact situation as "Invited to Resubmit."
If the journal editor has invited me to revise and resubmit my article for further review, and if I’ve actually already undertaken those revisions and resubmitted the article, I would list it thus:
"Into the Canine Navel: A Case Study of the Meta-Introspective Habits of Maremma Sheepdog Puppies." The Esteemed Journal of Puppy Ontology. (Revised and Resubmitted)
Forthcoming — When a work is listed as "forthcoming" on a scholar’s C.V. it means something very specific. It means that the editor of the journal has committed 100 percent, in writing, to publishing the article. Nothing at any other stage of development can ethically be listed as “forthcoming.” When an article is accepted the journal editor often won’t immediately be able to tell you when publication will occur. However, once you have been notified of specifically when your article will appear, I think it’s a good idea to indicate the time frame. For example, instead of merely "forthcoming," designate both that the work is forthcoming and the date of expected publication.
So, if my article has been accepted, but not yet assigned definitively to a specific journal issue, I would list it on my C.V. the following way:
"Into the Canine Navel: A Case Study of the Meta-Introspective Habits of Maremma Sheepdog Puppies," The Esteemed Journal of Puppy Ontology. (Forthcoming)
Or, if my editor has committed the article to definite publication in the Spring 2013 issue:
"Into the Canine Navel: A Case Study of the Meta-Introspective Habits of Maremma Sheepdog Puppies." The Esteemed Journal of Puppy Ontology. (Forthcoming, Spring 2013)
In terms of formatting, you’ll want to list your works in the format of your discipline’s dominant citation style (in these examples, Puppy Ontology uses a Modern Language Association style-sheet). If you have co-authors, make sure to acknowledge them in any listings of in-process works in accordance with your discipline’s standards.
Works that are "in progress" are generally projects that one is actively researching or writing up but that haven’t yet been submitted for review and publication. Some disciplines do have a cultural practice of expecting scholars to list their in-progress works in a special section of the C.V., while the same practice appears amateurish in other disciplines. If you’re unsure of your own discipline’s perspective, consult a mentor. Whether or not to list such works is really a judgment call. For many people who will be reading your C.V., "in progress" works will read as padding. "In progress" might mean anything from a fully drafted article ready to go out for review to merely a sheet of paper that you’ve scrawled a tentative article title upon. But, particularly if you are a junior scholar, it may be important to show that you have irons in the fire. The more projects you already have published, the less necessary it becomes to list "in progress" works. At a certain point it becomes assumed that you are working on new research.
Once you are employed you will have to go through pre-tenure review processes. Depending upon the policies of your employing institution, such reviews could be annual, could occur every other year, or could occur only in the third year. Typically there will be a thoroughly articulated set of procedures outlining the details of the review. If your institution’s policies are so specific that they actually designate a nomenclature for describing your in-progress and/or pre-publication work, those terms obviously trump the ones I’ve offered here.
List works consistently across your job or review materials. You would not want to mention an article in your job letter as having recently been submitted for review and to have the same article listed as "forthcoming" on your C.V. "Which is it?," a careful reader would ask, probably with more than a little frustration and suspicion.
Personally, I maintain two separate C.V.s. One is for internal use within my university. I list absolutely everything on it. This is the C.V. I include with reappointment materials. I consider this C.V. private in the sense that only I and the people at my university involved with personnel decisions see it. On this C.V. I list all of my work, no matter what stage of review it is in. I might even include a work in progress, in a section of the C.V. that clearly indicates that the work is in fact in progress, and has not yet been submitted for review, if the work is very nearly complete. While I want to list absolutely everything I’m working on in this C.V., I also don’t want the document to appear to be padded. My other C.V., for more public eyes, lists only published or forthcoming works.
If you're on the job market, there may also be good reasons to omit a project that has yet to be accepted for publication from your application materials entirely. Scholarly subdisciplines are small worlds. It may be better to maintain your anonymity as an author if your article is currently in the double-blind phase of review (whether it is under initial review or has been revised and resubmitted). You and your mentors will need to decide whether it is more important to protect your anonymity while your articles are under review and on the job market, or whether it is more important to show hiring committees how much and what type of work you have sent out for review.
Opinions vary on whether or not it looks bad to have listed a work as "under review" with a carousel of journals. Careful readers of your materials may notice that the article has been rejected. Rejection, though, is a normal part of our profession, even for established scholars. So, I don’t think there’s any shame if hiring or reappointment committee members are able to tell that you’ve met a few rejections. They should understand — after all, they’ve been through it themselves. But, if your article is being rejected time and again, perhaps you do need to re-evaluate your argument and its presentation.
When listing works under review or that are in progress, the rules can be distilled in three very simple precepts: Be consistent. Follow the norms of your discipline. Don’t inflate or overstate anything.