Promotion Strategies

Getting promoted is a career milestone, and you should use the process to reflect upon how you can advance your program of work in strategic ways.  

Use promotion criteria to develop an action plan. Department and college criteria play the major role in the promotion process because university criteria have to be general enough to address varied forms of research, scholarship, and creative achievements and assess the effectiveness of diverse positions.  Your colleagues have developed promotion criteria as a guide for assessing the quality and impact of your work.  You should translate those criteria into benchmarks for assessing your annual progress and discussing your work with senior faculty.

Translating promotion criteria into annual goals can require some input from your colleagues.  What sorts of publications and which journals are most highly valued?  How important are conference presentations?  What service and outreach roles are expected?  These questions are easier to ask than they are to answer.  Talk through your publication plans with your colleagues to align your goals with promotion expectations.   

Your annual reports provide an opportunity to reflect upon your goals and achievements, and then get feedback on how to characterize them.  As with your Candidate Statement, your annual report should characterize your contributions.  For example, if you have published coauthored articles with senior people, you will need to articulate your research contributions to help establish that you have an independent program of research and are not simply assisting with others’ research.  If you are in a field where research funding is limited, your ability to articulate your research agenda and its impact may be even more important because you may have fewer benchmarks to demonstrate the impact of your research. What are your research expectations if you are in a continuing-status position and only have a small percentage of your workload assignment devoted to scholarship?

Share Your Work with Colleagues.
  • Talk with colleagues about your research, teaching and service.
  • Keep an eye out for external reviewers.
  • Share your writing with colleagues in your department and elsewhere.
  • Talk to senior faculty about how they assess impact and quality.

Solicit input from faculty in your department and discipline. If your work bridges disciplines or contributes to cutting-edge trends, you will need to talk with colleagues in your department and related fields about how to characterize your work in ways that value your contributions in terms that will make sense to reviewers.  Talking about your work with your colleagues is vital to learning how to represent your work.  The feedback you receive will help you assess how best to characterize your contributions in your annual reports and in the Candidate Statement that frames your Promotion Dossier.

Build a clearly defined profile of teaching, service, research and scholarly contributions. Through your discussions with colleagues, you will learn how to talk about the impact of your teaching, research, and service and outreach.  If you are on the continuing-status, you will want to learn as much as you can about how to document your position effectiveness.  All faculty will find it easier to document the quality your scholarship than your teaching, especially if you teach in clinical settings and offer workshops without standard assessments.  With your research, you can cite invited talks, publications, citations, and perhaps grants, but with classroom teaching, about the only quantifiable benchmarks are Teacher Course Evaluations (TCEs).   Research has shown that student evaluations can be affected by various extrinsic factors, including the gender and ethnicity of instructors.  To avoid an undue emphasis on student evaluations, we require peer reviews of teaching and instructional materials for all candidates.  You should consider enlisting peers to observe your workshops and other instructional work to help document your effectiveness.  Mentoring, advising, and even outreach may be integral to your teaching, but you will need to make those connections for reviewers of your dossier.  You should use your candidate statement to articulate how your research and teaching are related to your outreach and service.  One way to establish such relationships is to characterize your service contributions as a form of leadership.  Another way to characterize the impact of your service and outreach is to consider how your work advances the mission of your unit and the university.  It can also be effective to cite related research, national trends, and best practices in your field of study.

Guide to the Promotion Process