Tips to Optimize Your Fourth-Year Appraisal

Tips to Optimize Your Fourth-Year Appraisal

June 30, 2016

Each UCLA Assistant Professor in the regular and in residence series is reviewed a few years before he or she is expected to be evaluated for tenure to determine the likelihood of success in being promoted to Associate Professor. CAP provides assessments of "favorable" (on track to receive tenure when the case is reviewed for promotion) or "with reservations" (some areas of improvement are needed in order to receive a positive tenure decision) or "unfavorable" (unlikely the candidate will qualify for promotion to Associate Professor).

TEACHING: High quality teaching is an indispensable qualification for promotion to Associate Professor.

List classes you teach, using their numbers in the UCLA curriculum. If you teach in a format where classes do not have numbers briefly describe the nature of the course, perhaps in your personal statement. Describe whether courses are undergraduate or courses/seminars for graduate or postdoctoral students. If a course has multiple instructors, what was your responsibility? For clinical faculty, include teaching you provide in clinics or on inpatient or outpatient rounds and supervision of residents and medical students. In any case, be sure that the extent of your teaching contribution is clear.

Information on your student teaching evaluations should be included in the dossier. How do your evaluations compare with other faculty in your department? Many departments provide a Table in which your teaching record is compared to departmental averages. If you have encountered a problem (e.g., scores below the departmental average) be sure to discuss with your mentor and/or chair. CAP understands that it can be difficult for new faculty members to teach well in their initial attempts, but provide information on strategies for improvement. If applicable, please provide a description of your approach to teaching. List awards you have won for teaching.

Teaching/mentoring in your own laboratory/creative group should also be listed as evidence of achievement. Useful information includes awards your trainees may have won and the status of former mentees or trainees. If appropriate, supply this information in your personal statement.

RESEARCH OR OTHER CREATIVE ACHIEVEMENT: "There should be evidence that the candidate is continuously and effectively engaged in creative activity of high quality and significance" (APO, Appendix 5)

List exactly what your specific achievements have been in research/performance/design and explain why they are important in your field.  Discuss this in your personal statement, assessing your accomplishments in the context of your field. Publications/compositions/performances are key for CAP to evaluate your creativity and productivity. More important than numbers is the impact of these publications or compositions. For many of the sciences, the most important publications are original research articles in respected peer-reviewed journals. That can be estimated by the impact factors of the journals in which you are publishing, your placement in the authorship, and citations. You can check on your citations and H-index in Web of Science or Google Scholar to self-evaluate though CAP is aware that these numbers by themselves can be misleading. If you are listed on patent applications, include that information.  For other fields, such as the humanities, the most important evidence of creativity is often the production of a monograph/book. Ideally, there will be indications that a book will be published or in press with outside reviews at the time of tenure evaluation. If the book is not yet published, please provide details on the status of the manuscript. How much of the book is written? Has a reputable academic publisher expressed interest? Is there a signed contract? Provide copies of several chapters and any reviews if available.

In some disciplines, performance art, gallery presentations, or involvement in performances are the major evidence of creativity. Expert reviews are often essential for evaluation. Please provide information on the prestige of venues to aid in the assessment.

CAP expects that your work demonstrates significant independence and there should be evidence of a trajectory for independence at the time of tenure evaluation.  Sometimes CAP struggles with determining independence and it is important for both the candidate and chair to address this issue. This problem especially arises in some clinical departments where the candidate continues to work with a mentor. This is not necessarily a problem but evidence that the candidate is a leading force in the research needs to be provided. Evidence might include a grant award on which you are PI or moving to last/senior author on publications. Alternatively, single author publications make it clear that you are behind the idea and planning of the presented work.  If independence may be a concern in your appraisal, address this issue in your self-statement. If you are involved in collaborative research, your role in projects should be made clear.

If by the time of your 4th-year review, you are holding extramural grants as PI or Co-PI, this is excellent evidence that you are creative, productive and that your work is valued and independent. In this era, grants are difficult to obtain; if you have none of your own, address in your personal statement how your creative work currently, and in the near future, is supported. List awards/grants/patents that you have secured; include pending grant applications.

PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITY/SERVICE: It is essential for all faculty to provide service to the University and/or the Community. In some cases, departments assign relatively light service loads to new Assistant Professors so that focus can be on teaching and research. Thus, for 4th year reviews, this category is of relatively less importance but will still be reviewed. Some initial service involvement should be evident. Service can take many forms and is an opportunity to give back to the University and Community. Some forms of service (reviewing for journals and granting organizations; being active in scholarly societies) provide evidence that colleagues esteem your opinion. Service contributions should be addressed in the personal statement. CAP encourages department leaders to ensure that junior faculty are not overburdened with service requirements so that teaching and research/creative activities can be vigorously pursued.

CAP guidance on the preparation of your Personal Statement is available at https://www.apo.ucla.edu/cap-guidance/self-statements.

The purpose of the 4th-year review is to provide useful feedback to faculty. Putting more effort into the dossier results in a more meaningful and useful appraisal.