Wed 23 November 2016
A few months ago I submitted my dossier for tenure and it continues on its journey up the chain of command: external reviewers, department committee, chair, college committee, dean, university advisory committee and provost, president, and the board of trustees.
I might get good news around May or bad news before then.
Until then, I thought it'd be helpful to share some of what I learned, and what my dossier looked like.
(The particulars will differ across disciplines and universities.)
Substantively, your statements are a marshaling of evidence into a compelling story about your research, teaching, and service.
You need to highlight strengths and frame weaknesses—questions will be asked about the latter.
As much as you might hear about substantive, independent, and arms-length evaluation, I suspect this is truly about your reputation and social-network.
Consequently, you need to make it easy for your unit to find folks willing to write supportive letters and provide the materials that help letter writers do so.
Ambitious universities want external letters from full professors at R1 universities.
Additionally, mine uses a template by which those reviewers are asked if the candidate would get tenure at the external institution.
Because I'm interdisciplinary (a sociologist is not likely to say I'd get tenure in a sociology department) and an introvert (who is poor at schmoozing), this part worried me the most.
Nonetheless, disciplinary service is one of the things you can do so you interact with senior scholars.
You might do service at conferences or disciplinary associations, or review submissions at journals and presses where your own work has been accepted.
I suspect editors of journals who have accepted your work make excellent letter writers, or know those who would be when asked by your chair.
Because candidates have the ability to nominate or exclude a few external reviewers, I created a spreadsheet of senior faculty, their discipline, professorial rank, university rank, how I know them, and how they might know me.
I wish I had started this earlier as it would have helped my own sense of where I was positioning myself and where to submit to and do service.
A feature of contemporary life is that much evaluation is quantified and relative, so you need to provide evidence of good standing.
For research, this can include:
impact of publication venues
citation counts of your work (e.g., Google Scholar)
your standing relative to peers in your disciplinary cohort
I have concerns about quantification and relative-ranking, and write about this in my research, but it is a reality.
I include the impact and selectivity of publication venues in my
I did not directly address my citation count and was too uncomfortable to compare myself to peers, but your letter writers will likely do so in any case.
Candidates do not have access to the external letters, but can see quotes from external reviewers—designated as "Reviewer N"—in the chair and department letters.
Much of what I've said about research applies to teaching and service: you need to frame evidence of success and challenges surmounted in a compelling story, which brings me to compiling the dossier.
My third year review required me to compile a mock dossier according to the tenure requirements, and so I collected materials according to that structure, with subdirectories for each of the sections below.
(I further divided some of the appendices for organizational purposes.)
I thought there was a single dossier, but in reality, there were three that my department chair helped me build:
the research statement and materials that go out to external reviewers
your ~60 pages of material that is in the core, which is complemented by external letters, and all the letters up the university chain of command. My university wants this to be no more than 100 pages
the appendices, which ended up including
a lot; mine doesn't include all examples of service, but I included examples of student work and revision, and I added some of the teaching best practices I've developed.
Dossier Table of Contents
D. Curriculum vitae
E. Statements and supporting evidence
F. Performance reviews
G. Comprehensive list of supporting documents
Appendix A. Teaching: Peer evaluations
2012 1-Spring COMM1220 (MCS) Dallimore evaluation
2012 2-Fall MSCR1220 (MCS) Goodale evaluation
2014 1-Spring COMM1255 (CDA) Herbeck evaluation
2015 1-Spring COMM4625 (OC) Dallimore evaluation
2015 2-Fall COMM4625 (OC) Noland evaluation
2016 1-Spring COMM1255 (CDA) Nisbet evaluation
Appendix A. Teaching: TRACE evaluations
Appendix A. Teaching: Best practices
Tip: Making sense of concepts
Tip: Writing class essays
Tip: Writing responses
Handout: Writing Guide
Appendix A. Teaching: Student examples
Boston Society of Vulcans
Circle of poison
First Church in Roxbury
Participation self and peer evaluation
Web search and evaluation
Appendix A. Teaching: Other syllabi
"Communication in the Digital Age" syllabus
Appendix B. Research
Reagle (2011), CPOV, Wikipedia: The Argument Engine
Reagle and Rhue (2011),
IJOC, Gender bias in Wikipedia and Britannica Reagle (2012), AoIR, Infocide
Loveland and Reagle (2013),
NMS, Wikipedia Production Reagle (2013),
FM, "Free as in Sexist?" Reagle (2014),
NMS, Obligation to Know Reagle (2014), Routledge, Revenge rating and tweak critique
FM, Following the Joneses Reagle (2015),
IJOC, Geek Policing Reagle (2015), MIT Press, Reading the Comments
Reagle (n.d.), TBD, Introduction to
Hacking Life Reviews of
Good Faith Collaboration Reviews of
Reading the Comments Appendix C. Service Committees
Library Policy and Operating Committee 2012-2013
Appendix C. Service reviewing
NMS Review for
JASIST Review for
Journal of Peer Production Review for
MIT Press Review for
MIT Press Review for
NSF Review for