We want to highlight a recent development in Interfolio’s Dossier product, the academic portfolio software we’ve offered since 1999, that will support career development for scholars at institutions using our shared governance platform: institutional guidelines for review, promotion, and tenure.
Advance preparation for faculty reviews (and other advantages of educational portfolio software)
Institutional guidelines is a new, simple feature shared between Interfolio’s Dossier for individual scholars (see below) and our Promotion & Tenure platform for committees. It enables the college or university to publish a searchable library of formal review requirements, for different types of reviews, that anyone with an affiliated Interfolio Dossier account at that institution can access through that account.
When we say “an affiliated Interfolio account”—that’s a new thing as well. Starting in January 2017 and going forward, all schools that begin using Interfolio’s Promotion & Tenure module will gain personal Interfolio Dossier accounts for all faculty members at that institution.
So now, if you’re a faculty member just beginning a new position at an institution that handles faculty reappointment/review, promotion, or tenure (RPT) through Interfolio, you will be able to use your Interfolio account to check an accurate listing of what you’re going to need to submit. Your Dossier is the place to store and categorize those materials privately in advance.
We know that every institution’s policies and practices around RPT candidate preparation (and the transparency of these processes) is different, so it’s not as though we’re forcing every institution to use this method to distribute their review guidelines. Each school using Interfolio for academic reviews will decide when and how to best leverage it. But by building this technical connection between the institution’s and the individual scholar’s perspectives, we’re addressing a known need to make RPT processes clear, intelligible, and consistent to all faculty members.
There are a few dimensions to this goal: setting the individual faculty candidate up for success, ensuring fair and consistent communication to all faculty candidates at the institution, and bringing requirements to light in a way that helps the institution improve what they ask of candidates. What’s been missing from the landscape of technology for faculty in higher education, until now, is something that effectively puts that continuous organizational work toward your practical assembly of your candidate packet in the future.
What is Interfolio’s Dossier? Why use portfolio software like this?
This institutional guidelines feature is actually just one among a list of recent renovations and expansions we’ve made to Dossier. It’s no longer primarily about confidential letters, although it’s great for that. This feature is one way that we’re making Dossier significantly more flexible and valuable to scholars at all points throughout their career.
In a nutshell, the Dossier service is about giving every professional academic better control over the moves they make in their career as students, candidates, and colleagues.
It’s been around since 1999, but we’ve really invested heavily over the course of 2016 to make it more comprehensive. And in our view, heading into this year, Interfolio’s Dossier is looking pretty unmatched among commercially available academic portfolio software, given its mixture of scholar-focused tools that serve both continuous organization and transactional delivery of materials. Here’s why.
Every scholar with an Interfolio Dossier account has a dedicated, private way to:
- Store all their academic materials, including documents, images, video links, and online material, that they may use whenever they might need to represent their accomplishments and character as a scholar.
- Send recommendation letter writers simple request emails to upload reusable letters for them. Letters are stored in the scholar’s account indefinitely (and confidentially from them)—enabling their peers and mentors to provide support for their endeavors, without forcing them to field dozens of individual requests.
- Tag materials as they wish, and organize the contents of their Dossier by tag, document type, and date received or requested.
- Preview any item stored in their Dossier to confirm how it’s going to come through to the reviewer on the other end.
- Maintain any number of standing collections of their materials. If they’re submitting a new application, or if their institution is using Interfolio’s platform for review, promotion, and tenure, they can automatically pull these collections into those occasions of presentation.
- Send materials practically anywhere—whether for free to a position or review hosted through Interfolio, or outside Interfolio’s system via email, paper mail, or direct upload.
It’s this concept of a private hub for each individual scholar that makes Dossier so central to the faculty technology we’re building.
Even if you originally get a Dossier through your institution, your Dossier is portable and belongs to you—not to the institution. The academic portfolio’s benefits accrue as your list of publications, courses taught, speaking engagements, and committee contributions grows. You might have put a lot of work into assembling and labeling your materials. If at some point you leave the institution, you can take your Dossier and its contents with you. And (especially) if you later find yourself at a different institution that also uses Interfolio on the committee side, you’ll already be ahead of the game.
* * *
If your institution already uses Interfolio to manage faculty recruitment or promotion and you’d like to learn more about Dossier, go ahead and get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.