Laptop, wireless mouse, paper, pen, and smartphone on wooden desk

This post continues our series, The Smart Scholar.

With 2019 in full swing, I know that many of you are preparing for classes and re-engaging in those “revise and resubmit” article notifications that came in during the holiday break. For many academics this is a busy time of year and before you know it, the end of the semester will be here. My suggestion? Don’t let a review sneak up on you. Below are three strategies that I have used that will help you prepare for your review.

Get organized from day one

As a first-year assistant professor, the best advice I received from mentors was to set up an organization system that would make writing my materials for my annual review and tenure and promotion review easier. Over the last three years after going through a few reviews, I have refined my organizational strategy and have established the following routines:

  • Scan and file all physical copies of documents (e.g., notes from students, teaching evaluation write-up, journal articles, etc.) electronically via a cloud storage application or a dedicated online profile (like Interfolio’s Dossier) to ensure you have multiple copies of documents.
  • In your cloud storage application create folders titled, “Teaching,” “Research,” and “Service.” In each relevant folder, store documents related to the parent folder, i.e. “Teaching,” in folders labeled by year.
  • Update curriculum vita monthly and keep every version of this document in an electronic folder.
Know your institution’s review policies and priorities

While getting organized is important to your success, equally important is knowing the policies and priorities of your institution. Some essential questions to consider are:

  • Do you know when your annual review is due?
  • Do you have a template to complete your review?
  • Do you have access to your institution’s policies and requirements for faculty reviews?

At many institutions running faculty reviews in a traditional way (i.e. without a dedicated online system), the university-wide and college/department specific faculty handbook is important—it will describe the policies and procedures for engaging in your annual and/or tenure and promotion review.

Along with knowing your institution’s policies, you should be familiar with the priorities of the institution. For instance, if your institution is research-intensive, then your review write-up should demonstrate how you have spent your time engaging in and producing research in venues that the institution and/or your department values. Similarly, if your institution is more teaching-intensive, you should be prepared to explain how your teaching has made significant contributions to your department and the institution.

Be prepared to address any gaps in your file

No one is perfect. Consequently, you may have a gap in your file that you were unable to address during the review time period. For instance, if preparing for your first annual review at an institution, you may have published little or no research so far during your time at the institution.  While you will be evaluated on your research activities, you should nevertheless explain in your narrative why your research productivity has been low during the period covered by the review. Moreover, you can then articulate your plan to increase your research productivity over the next review period. I find it important to address any shortcomings head on rather than omitting them from your narrative and having your evaluators (in many cases colleagues in your program or department) bring this up in your evaluation letter. Furthermore, addressing gaps in your review and outlining your plan to fix them is key—your next evaluation can speak to how you followed your outline from the past year and have met (and hopefully exceeded!) your goals.

Do you have strategies that have helped you prepare for your annual and/or tenure and promotion review? Feel free to tweet me @ramongoings to continue this conversation!

In addition to an online platform for universities to manage faculty reviews, Interfolio’s Dossier enables scholars to collect, curate, polish and send out their materials at all stages throughout their academic professional path. Learn more about Dossier here.

Author Bio: Dr. Ramon B. Goings is an assistant professor of educational leadership at Loyola University Maryland. His research examines gifted/high-achieving Black male academic success PreK-PhD, diversifying the teacher and school leader workforce, and the student experience and contributions of historically Black colleges and universities to the higher education landscape. As a writing coach and editor, Dr. Goings enjoys supporting the scholarly development of doctoral students and professors in higher education. For more information about Dr. Goings, please visit his website and follow him on Twitter (@ramongoings).