Part of the 2020 Faculty Lifecycle Webinars series

What makes a faculty data platform successful?

This free webinar will introduce the Interfolio Faculty Activity Reporting module for collecting and reporting on data about the professional activities of faculty members in higher education. 

Interfolio makes a variety of reporting needs around faculty data more convenient, and more accurate, including:

  • Accreditation
  • CV generation
  • Budgeting
  • Grants
  • Department evaluation
  • and many other academic data sharing needs

Get Access Here:


Free White Paper: Data in Faculty Affairs

How can your university get the most out of tracking faculty data?

Download our free white paper on data in faculty affairs to learn what types of faculty data it’s common to collect, how to ensure high data quality and consistent coverage, and what sorts of insights colleges and universities are newly starting to gain with modern faculty data methods.

Get the White Paper

How can faculty activity reporting software benefit your institution? What results will you see when adopting this type reporting system? Here are just some of the benefits that your institution can realize after implementing Interfolio’s Faculty Activity Reporting (FAR) module.

Improving the quality of data

The more information you have floating around, the more convoluted your faculty activity reporting process is. For that reason, Interfolio’s Faculty Activity Reporting seeks to eliminate data redundancies. When institutions have duplicate databases, it results in decreased accuracy and decreased efficiency. FAR has multiple levels of customization, including adaptable tools for data input and reporting that help institutions create its required datasets, all while eliminating redundancies. Faculty Activity Reporting helps ensure that your institution possesses a complete, accurate, and easily accessible profile of its faculty.

Working from a single interface

In higher education institutions of all sizes, it becomes easy for information to pile up and become separated into various silos. Interfolio’s Faculty Activity Reporting seeks to combat this disorderly compilation of information, instead creating a centralized and secure interface that is easier and faster to access than multiple independent data sources — or worse, hard copies. You can import data from ERP systems, reference management software, course evaluations, grant databases, and other faculty reporting systems. Consolidating data into a single source will make it easier for faculty and staff to create everything from accreditation reports to grant applications to webpages. 

Providing access to information in real life

Even though your institution is made up of intelligent staff and faculty members, there will come a time when someone has a question about certain data or processes. Faculty Activity Reporting offers dynamic tools that encourage users to access the information they need at any given time – without wasting time sifting through countless siloed datasets. Equipped with the answers to their questions and the solutions to their problems, they can return to work with accurate insight.

Encouraging collaboration

In addition to collecting data into a single, easily accessible system, FAR provides permission-based access that allows your faculty and administrators to more easily interact with external users. For instance, you can give external parties permission to search the database using a variety of tags. When higher ed institutions have increased opportunity to interact with businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies, they can create and foster productive academic partnerships that further the goals of the university and its students.

Benefits of gradual implementation

Faculty activity reporting software can improve various aspects of operations. It may not be the best choice to roll out brand new faculty activity reporting software to every member of each department all at once. A gradual implementation process can be key to promoting transparency at an institutional level and will help ensure that this faculty-focused technology becomes an effective tool across the organization.

When you begin to roll out the new faculty activity reporting software, it may be wise to initially allow faculty and administrative members to join on an opt-in basis. Tenured faculty or long-time administrative staff members may be reluctant to adopt the new system. Rather than expecting them to quit their previous processes cold turkey, you might encourage employees who have bought into the new system to show the other members of your organization how faculty activity reporting software is a time saving, streamlined way to view and report information.

This was a strategy utilized by Miami University, a university partner that worked closely with Interfolio to improve data collection and reporting. Before the university fully rolled out Interfolio’s software to its entire staff and faculty base, it worked with select volunteers across all organizational levels to determine the direct benefits they could gain from this platform and to identify problem areas to mention when providing training to the whole organization. By beginning with this buy-in system, faculty and administrators could readily work alongside their peers — particularly those less adaptable to change — in adopting this technology.

Figuring out who should have access to information

Since faculty activity reporting software is online, it can be easily transferred to individuals across the organization. Conversely, you have the option to keep certain pieces of information confidential, accessible only to certain individuals and their higher-ups. When you’ve implemented this platform, you have the autonomy to provide as much or as little access to internal personnel as you’d like.

Using the new software for faculty evaluation

Faculty activity reporting software isn’t just a means of viewing and sharing information. Organizations can use this technology to schedule, prepare, and conduct faculty evaluations. Administrators and faculty member leaders can select faculty members to evaluate for a variety of purposes — annual review, promotion, tenure, sabbatical, or any other occasion — and select who will sit in on the evaluation. In addition, personnel can use this platform to gather documents and other information that may be helpful to refer to during this meeting.

In addition to this evaluative tool, Interfolio’s Faculty Activity Reporting can automatically notify faculty of formal input deadlines, which may occur on an annual or semester basis. The platform’s faculty input workflows feature can document which faculty members have and have not completed this work and can then send reminders to those who have not.

When you work with Interfolio to strategize your faculty reporting capabilities, you are providing increased transparency and collaboration and improving the quality of data, thereby innovating the way faculty and staff share information.

A faculty activity report is made up of data that supports the tenure or promotion processes or guides annual reviews at higher education institutions. These materials are specific to individual faculty members. Administrators will likely use the aggregated data from multiple faculty to assemble reports for their department, school, or university as a whole. 

A faculty activity reporting software is an online data collection and reporting tool used by a higher education institution’s administration and faculty members. This technology can streamline the reporting process, making it easier to evaluate entire departments, review accreditation information, and collaborate with other organizations.

What information is critical for institutional records and external reporting?

Essentially, faculty activity reporting software provides a database for the crucial information an academic institution needs to maintain compliance and stay organized. Faculty activity reports should contain data that can be used for three key purposes: accreditation, performance reviews, and external collaboration. 

Accreditation data

One of the most important components that a faculty activity reporting system should include is information that relates to the university’s accreditation. In order to earn and maintain accreditation, institutions must meet certain requirements and pay one-time and annual fees. Universities report their accreditation status and information externally to financial institutions and government agencies in order to earn credibility and ensure their students have access to federal grants and loans.

Annual reports regarding performance and evaluation

Faculty activity reporting allows for easy scheduling of faculty assessment sessions and provides one location for the institutional information that both parties can refer to before, during, and after this meeting. With an effective reporting system, essential data is easily visible and shareable among committee members or department chairs – and, crucially, the information also remains confidential. This can improve the quality and productivity of these performance reviews. The information gathered before a faculty evaluation session might provide enough compelling information to award someone with a well-deserved promotion. Otherwise, this data can be useful in determining faculty members’ strengths, weaknesses, and other crucial points to touch on during a review.

Data for collaboration

When an institution is interested in partnering with an external organization, such as a business, government agency, nonprofit, or other resource, they can quickly share any information they deem critical to these external parties. Universities can create and develop partnerships that are mutually beneficial to students of the institution and the external organization. For instance, a university that wants its pre-med program to partner with a local hospital might share information through its faculty activity reporting system to export a report of contacts and improve transparency.

When will this information be used?

Once an institution has implemented a faculty activity reporting system and added data into the platform, these reported activities are available for use immediately or as future needs arise

This information can be useful when conveying faculty accomplishments to prospective students and employees. The data gathered through faculty activity reporting can create a significant selling point to build credibility and recruit new individuals to the university.

Filling out a faculty activity report

Although standards of faculty reporting and evaluation are shifting, faculty activity reports still typically describe faculty members’ accomplishments in three key areas: research, teaching, and service. Although reports should be comprehensive, it’s not necessary to fill out every single field. When certain information is not necessary for the department or university, it may be best to leave it out of the report in order to ensure that what is in the report is relevant.

Why do some records include start and end dates?

When faculty, administration, and outside sources browse through the information that makes up a faculty activity report, they might notice that some pieces of information have start and end dates, while others do not have end dates. Even though it may appear that there’s been an error in the system, there’s actually a simple answer for why not all data points contain both start and end dates.

A piece of data that has a start date but no end date is considered to be ongoing. By leaving it open, with no precise end date, the faculty and administration members are noting that it has not been completed yet.

In contrast, when a piece of information only has an end date — with no start date — it likely means the process of receiving this information took less than one day. Although this is a valid means of reporting data in a faculty activity report, it is typically a best practice to include both a start and end date for all pieces of information.

Generally, faculty activity reporting systems will not allow contributors to input information with no date included.

When your institution is seeking out new ways to assess faculty or gain a comprehensive picture of their activities, it might look toward Interfolio’s faculty activity reporting capabilities. Our comprehensive suite of offerings makes for seamless and simple reporting. By switching from a manual or basic digital information reporting and storage system to a fully integratable software interface, your university is adopting a time-saving platform that allows faculty, staff, and external parties to view only information that relates directly to them. Get in touch with us to find out how Interfolio’s faculty activity reporting platform can transform the quality of your staff and faculty interactions.

Improving the research and grant process: Lessons from The University of Toledo

How do you spend less time on finding the right people and more time on crafting the right story?

We sat down with Bill McCreary, Vice President, CIO, and CTO at The University of Toledo to discuss the role that faculty data plays in crucial university processes surrounding grant and research management. 

With over 17 different colleges, University of Toledo employs a diverse set of faculty with a diverse set of disciplines and data. Faculty work can range from teaching and learning to research around health and complex STEM-based projects (most notably 3D & AI).  McCreary must carefully consider stakeholders’ varied needs when making decisions about faculty data. 

Grants and research weren’t always a smooth process

“We were spending a high percentage of our activity on just fact-finding to create the application submission. It was nothing but searching for information on the researchers who would be part of the team,” McCreary said during the webinar. 

This administrative scavenger hunt reduced the time that McCreary and his team could dedicate to strategy and analysis around the research grants and their impact. 

“You can present yourself much more professionally when you can think less about who is on the grants, and more about the problem you are trying to solve with the research. This is a way for us to try to become more professional in the research and grant process,” McCreary added.

Using Interfolio and other integrations to continuously improve the process

Using Interfolio’s Faculty Activity Reporting module, among other integrations, University of Toledo created a database of their faculty members that they could pull in an instant. “When assessing a grant, we want to find people who do good research, and being able to quickly find that information enabled us to collect the information much more quickly.” An additional outcome of the centralized data in Interfolio: it brought to light other faculty members that would make strong collaborators on research projects—showcasing faculty expertise that might not as been as visible before.

With faculty members recording data in one universal place, University of Toledo has been able to focus on hiring strategy as well. They can assess who is currently on the faculty roster and identify who they should be looking for when posting hiring announcements in order to be more competitive for research grants. “It’s been helpful when Deans try to fill out faculty positions. They can look at the roster and say, ‘Who do we really want on it?’”

McCreary acknowledged that it is an ongoing process, stating “We’re looking at yields; there are so many different types of success. We’re looking to hire better researchers, and we’re still on that journey.”

Learn more about Bill McCreary and University of Toledo’s faculty data journey and listen to the full webinar.

__________________________

Billl McCreary assumed the role of vice president, chief information officer, and chief technology officer at The University of Toledo on July 1, 2015. Responsible for all information technology, hospital systems, academic technology, the simulation game studio, 3D/virtual immersive reality, and the Center for Creative Instruction, this role brings together all the key areas of technology across the organization into the Division of Technology and Advanced Solutions (DTAS)

Before joining UT, McCreary held senior executive positions at Owens-Illinois, Kennecott, and NSG, as well as private technology firms. He also has experience in finance, mergers and acquisitions, venture development, engineering, research, marketing, manufacturing, and general management.