Enhancing the Dossier

Faculty members who are eligible for a promotion or merit increase have the opportunity to make their dossier “speak for itself” as their department and the other campus reviewing agencies consider their case.  You have numerous opportunities for shaping your file, from the initial preparation of the dossier to the final chance to examine it before it proceeds to the campus reviewers. This article lists some things that you can do to maximize your chances of success.

Address your independent contributions: This is especially important when the publications involve multiple authorships, where publications are done jointly with one’s major advisor or with a clearly dominant author in your field, or where your listing is neither as first author nor as senior author.  CAP's article on Independence explores this topic further. 

Address explicitly any reservations that have been made about your work: you may wish to give your view on any significant negative votes in the department and/or to provisos about the work that appears in the committee and/or chair’s letter, or in the extramural letters.

Provide the basis for strong extramural support: Though the chair of the department will ultimately determine who the external reviewers will be, you have the opportunity to name your preferences and these should be well established referees from first- rank universities in your field. An article on Letters of Evaluation can be found here in Timely Topics.

Provide clear documentation regarding any special features in the file: For example, if you have received an honor or perhaps a speaking engagement at an event, make its significance clear (either in the dossier itself or the self-statement).

The self-statement (if any) should be crisp and informative: Though a self-statement is not required, it often helps to provide reviewers with a pointed perspective on the candidate’s research and teaching trajectory. The aim is not to reproduce what is already provided in the CV, but (in roughly three to five pages) to provide background and perspective on your career at UCLA and your research and teaching agenda.  For more on Self-Statements, please see our Self-Statements article.

The Data Summary (and the CV) should make your contribution clear: It should be easy for reviewers to understand the kind of scholarly contributions you have made (peer-reviewed articles, conference papers, book chapters, book reviews, etc.), as well as which contributions were produced during the particular review period that is at issue. (Advice on these matters is available in The CALL and through the departmental personnel office or the Academic Personnel Office).

Interdisciplinary work should be explained: As noted in Appendix 37 of The CALL, interdisciplinary work is encouraged, but at times it also provides its own challenges during the review process – which means that you need to clarify how the interdisciplinary component of the work enhances the research outcomes.  Faculty engaged in interdisciplinary work are now asked to designate on their data summary forms the campus-based interdisciplinary entities that should be asked to provide letters for the review.

The evidence for “superior intellectual attainment” is crucial: The CALL establishes this requirement – both for research and teaching – and the file needs to make the case for advancement or promotion in those terms. The emphasis, then, cannot simply be on the number of publications, but on the grounds of quality, which includes: the reach of mind exhibited in research and teaching, the quality of the publication outlets, the quality of the impact of the work, the quality of research grants (if any), and the quality of professional engagement. All of these need to be documented.

Experience with many personnel cases shows that attention to these elements in the file enhances the probability of success.