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General Standards in Faculty Review

How does a reviewer evaluate the quality of the journals in which a candidate publishes? Are online publications acceptable? What about conference proceedings?

The most important factor for any publication is whether it was peer-reviewed. Journal quality is important, and it is definitely considered by reviewers. Often the Case Analysis lists the most important journals in the field or discusses the relative qualities of the most common journals in the field. For books, publication with an academic press implies selection by expert peer review. Rating services such as ISI also assign “impact factors” to journals, which some reviewers use, but the impact factors refer to the journals and not to the papers themselves and thus have limited value. Other reviewers refer to publications like Citation Index to determine the frequency of reference to the candidate’s work. Which of these methods is used tends to be discipline-specific.

In a number of fields, online publication is becoming as important as print journal publication and research societies are rapidly creating competitive online journals. In some areas, certain highly selective refereed conference proceedings are regarded as having the same academic impact as fist-rate journal publications. In such circumstances, the Unit should document the selectivity of the conference or online publication and the archival nature of the venue.
Candidates and Units should note that it is not appropriate to count conferences as primary work in fields where such work later appears, in archival form, in journals. In such circumstances conference presentations can nonetheless be cited as evidence of engagement and impact in the field.

How does promoting diversity and equal opportunity relate to UC’s research, teaching and service mission?

It not only reflects the changing nature of scholarship and research in the academy, but also underscores the obligation of the University of California as a land-grant university for the state of California.

How does CAP respond to published reviews of work in scholarly and popular media?

Reviews provided in files related to the Arts are expected and helpful. In both the humanities and social sciences, CAP welcomes reviews of a professor’s work in respected journals and uses them in the evaluation of the publication, with the Unit’s guidance.
If a book has been accepted by a publisher and is in production, readers’ reports solicited by the press may be included with the file. Once a book is published, book reviews from the major journals in the field may be included in the file. Published book reviews are likely to provide disinterested assessments of a book’s impact in its field. It is recognized that accident, oversight, or reason of space may result in some valuable books not having been reviewed in the usual journals. Nonetheless, reviews in leading journals are an important means by which a discipline acknowledges and evaluates the quality and importance of scholarship in a field and are, accordingly, an important measure of scholarly impact.
Trade books and textbooks are generally considered to be professional activity or as contributions to teaching. Published reviews and the Case Analysis can demonstrate otherwise.

How does CAP evaluate such impermanent productions as plays, dances, and installations?

As always, the Unit and the School are the main sources of knowledge, and full analysis of creative works is important. CAP cannot consider work that has not been witnessed and judged by others. Videotapes, recordings, and digital archives, for example, may be equivalent to professional publications. Apart from competitions, juried festivals, and the like, the venues or professional levels of performances may serve as indicators parallel to the rankings of publication venues. It is incumbent upon the Unit to articulate these distinctions. Evidence, rather than just assertions, about the quality of venues is critical. Published reviews are helpful. Publicity material serves as documentation that a production occurred, but is not in itself a form of evaluation.

What set of standards is used for the various ranks?

Candidates at all ranks are evaluated in each of three categories: 1) scholarship or creative achievement, 2) University teaching, and 3) service. For promotion to the Associate level and to full Professor, the APM specifies, “superior intellectual attainment, as evidenced both in teaching and in research or other creative achievement, is an indispensable qualification.”
Advancement to Professor, Step VI involves an overall career review. “(G)reat academic distinction, recognized nationally, will be required in scholarly or creative achievement or teaching.” Also required is “evidence of sustained and continuing excellence in each of the three categories of academic responsibility.

Service at Professor, steps VI, VII, VIII and IX may be of indefinite duration. Advancement to the next step “usually will not occur after less than three years of service at the lower step, and will only be granted on evidence of continuing achievement at the level required for advancement to Step VI.”
Advancement to Professor, Above Scale involves an overall career review and is “reserved only for the most highly distinguished faculty 1) whose work of sustained and continuing excellence has attained national and international recognition and broad acclaim reflective of significant impact; 2) whose University teaching performance is excellent; and 3) whose service is highly meritorious...Moreover, mere length of service and continued good performance at Step IX is not justification for further salary advancement. There must be demonstration of additional merit and distinction beyond the performance on which the advancement to Step IX was based.” The normal length of service at Step IX is four years, and advancement to Above Scale after less than four years at Step IX is granted on evidence of exceptional performance (a Pulitzer Prize, recent membership in a National Academy of Sciences or Engineering, etc.).

Note that Professor, Step IX is the top of UC’s advancement scale. Achievement of Step IX is a signature professional accomplishment. Advancement to Above Scale is neither customary nor expected. Thus many faculty members reasonably remain and then retire at Step IX.

Does it matter if you have national funding (e.g., NIH, DOD, NASA, NSF, NEA, AHA, etc.) as opposed to campus or local funding? Can you be promoted if you have no grant funding? Do you have to be a PI (Principal Investigator) on a grant to get promoted?

The first priority is to have the funding you need to support the studies you propose to carry out, regardless of whether is comes from campus, local, or national sources. All money, whatever its source, buys the goods and services you need to do the experiments, gather the data, or create the artwork. With regard to national vs. local funding, reviewers look upon national funding as not only providing the means to do the studies, but also providing some assurance that a national standard of review has been met; for example, when a federal grant application undergoes review it is usually by a national panel of experts. The same can be said about being a PI. Although you may have more than enough money as a co-investigator on a grant, being a PI implies that you have the stature and ability to oversee an entire project and its quality; that is, you have leadership skills. Reviewers look favorably on that, but it is not necessarily the sine qua non for promotion in all fields.

If you need grant money to carry out studies and you have none, you are not likely to be promoted. If you don’t need funding to carry out your program of research/creative activity (you can be productive without grants), then grantsmanship should not be an issue in the promotion review. Many Units, however, view grant/fellowship funding not only as support for research and validation that the candidate has a national audience, but also as support for graduate students. Some Units look on the lack of grants as a serious failing, indicating a lack of concern for the Unit and its ability to attract and support graduate students. Since this view of grant funding varies across the campus, it is important that new faculty members be sure that they understand the expectations of their own Units and Schools with regard to grant funds by discussing this with the AP Chair or a senior faculty member.

How does CAP evaluate files spanning a broad range of scholarly and creative disciplines?

CAP’s primary task is to ensure that evidence in the file supports the action proposed by the Unit. CAP synthesizes the assessments of various levels of review together with that of CAP members to ensure that everyone is treated fairly and equitably and that the University’s high academic standards are maintained.

CAP relies largely on the Unit’s presentation of a candidate’s work and on the commentary offered by the Dean. For major actions, CAP depends as well on the reports of external referees, and can call on the advice of an ad hoc committee or request that the School provide more extramural letters.

What percentage of those who come up for tenure at UC achieve it?

Approximately 90% of those who eventually come up for tenure, achieve this.

In addition to student advising and committee work, what other activities constitute University service?

Other service activities may include: mentoring students or junior faculty, managing a program or Unit website, overseeing/sponsoring student activities, including advising a student organization, overseeing equipment or facilities, using one’s expertise to solve a problem for the Unit or School, serving as Unit Chair, etc.

Are prizes and awards necessary for advancement?

Not typically. Like success in garnering grants, the receipt of awards, prizes and honorific positions in societies can be a sign of achievement and recognition. For the Above Scale portion of the professorial rank, such indicators of professional recognition are expected.

Are faculty members at UC Merced in competition with each other for their FTE's?

No. Each faculty member “owns” his or her FTE and is not in competition with his or her colleagues for tenure or other actions.

How much service is enough? How much is too much?

It is important to develop a workable balance between teaching, research, and service activities. Certain administrative duties can reduce one’s creative output. Especially heavy service commitments, with documented effective performance, can partially compensate for reduced achievement in other areas. Normal advancement cannot take place, however, without effective teaching and continuing superior scholarly or creative productivity as well as good service. Even heavy administrative responsibilities cannot compensate for nearly abandoned research or creative activity. At the early stages of one’s career, i.e., before achieving tenure, faculty members systemwide are expected to have a relatively lighter service load, perhaps consisting of student advising and assignment to a few committees at the Unit, School, or Graduate Group level. Given the special circumstances of UC Merced’s status as a new and rapidly growing campus, there have been heavier than normal service demands placed upon junior faculty members, but they are advised to do their best to keep service commitments within a reasonable range so as not to impede research and teaching duties. After achieving tenure, faculty members are expected to take on a heavier service load at both campus and systemwide levels. At the rank of Professor, including the upper levels, a faculty member is expected to serve in leadership roles on committees.

What are the criteria for tenure in a book field?

In any field, a tenure file should describe the career of a person whose accomplishments match those of an Associate Professor. Evidence of formal acceptance of books, journal articles, and book chapters is essential if the works are not available in published form at the time of tenure review.
For fields in which book publication is the norm for tenure, a completed book manuscript does not carry nearly as much weight as one that has been fully peer-reviewed and evaluated. A provisional contract does not carry nearly as much weight as clear evidence that a book manuscript is in its final form, formally accepted for publication, and in production. If a book is primarily a revision of the dissertation, peer-reviewed evidence of a second, independent project is expected. Published reviews in professional journals provide evidence of a book’s significance and impact.

Who votes on personnel actions within a Unit?

Academic Senate Bylaw 55 defines the rights of Senate faculty to vote on personnel actions within their Units. Voting is confidential, and all Senate faculty at or above the rank of the candidate have the right to vote on an action. Thus, Associate Professors can vote on merit increases for other Associate Professors, but not for Full Professors. The voting procedures of each Unit determine whether Assistant Professors can vote on tenure reviews.  The Bylaw also allows Units to extend the vote to Senate faculty below rank, as well as emeritae/i, by following the process described in Bylaw 55. Therefore, in some Units all Senate faculty can vote on all Senate candidates. Although Units may consult with non-Senate faculty on Senate faculty personnel actions, non-Senate faculty may not vote on actions related to their Senate colleagues. Voting procedures must be provided annually to the Academic Senate Office.

What are the expectations with regard to professional service for junior faculty?

For untenured faculty, ad hoc reviewing for journals, book publishers, or granting agencies, or participation on a professional society committee or public service organization is generally considered sufficient. Greater involvement is expected as the candidate advances in rank and step.

What does CAP look for in a Mid-Career Assessment (MCA)?

The purpose of the Mid-Career Assessment (MCA) is to inform an Assistant Professor in a thorough and formal way about his or her prospects for tenure. The MCA thus serves a very different function from the Case analysis for a merit increase. Of utmost importance are rigorous evaluation and complete candor. If there are weaknesses in the candidate’s record, the reviewers’ natural reluctance to cause pain can do much more harm than good to the candidate and the University.

The most common weakness in an Assistant Professor’s early career is a lack of progress with regard to research publications. The University of California is a research university, and provides generous resources and time for research. A relatively thin publication record (or its equivalent in the arts) cannot be lightly passed over.

Disciplines vary in their expectations for tenure, and MCAs reflect this. In the sciences, positive mid-career accomplishments show evidence of research independent from doctoral work (and any mentored postdoctoral work), of research projects that promise leadership in the field, and evidence that research will continue once tenure is granted. The award of competitive grants for research to a candidate as Principal Investigator (PI) can help to validate an independent research program, although grants do not in themselves substitute for published scholarship.
Collaboration of a junior faculty member with senior colleagues can present a problem with regard for evaluation for tenure. This is especially true when a junior candidate publishes frequently or exclusively with a small number of more senior collaborators who are always in senior authorship positions. In such cases, establishing the intellectual independence or leadership to warrant promotion above the Assistant level can be difficult.
CAP will recommend a “Good” appraisal only if it seems clear that maintenance of the trajectory will result in a recommendation for tenure within two years. CAP is likely to judge prospects as “Fair” in the many cases where reviewers note that there is room for improvement but the candidate is basically on the right trajectory. CAP will recommend a “Poor” appraisal when there is a significant obstacle to timely promotion. The most common such problem is the demonstration of research independence: publications that all include a senior mentor or that comprise almost exclusively middle authorships will make tenure unlikely. Poor teaching can also cause concern at the MCA and, if not remedied, provide an obstacle to promotion.

How is teaching evaluated in the academic personnel review process?

Good teaching is essential for any advancement, and can be the deciding factor in cases of acceleration. Poor teaching can sink an otherwise adequate case for a merit increase. At the same time, good teaching cannot be the sole basis for advancement.

The case file should contain a complete record of all teaching during the review period: lectures, labs, discussion sections, one-on-one teaching, etc. Supervision of graduate students and other forms of mentorship are also considered as evidence of teaching effectiveness. The Unit should already have student evaluations for all courses, and information on what courses were taught by Senate faculty is uploaded into Digital Measures following each semester. The candidate, however, may need to supply information on other types of teaching, e.g., Graduate Group courses or guest lectures in other departments.

What kinds of public service are usually expected?

Faculty members are expected to use their expertise to participate in local community, state and federal government review panels and committees, to respond to solicitations for advice in developing public policy, to help government agencies to organize research meetings, brief legislative staff on current issues, testify at hearings regarding proposed bills, serve on government delegations to foreign countries, and other such activities.

What can delay the normal personnel review process?

  • Failure of the candidate, Unit or School to submit materials in a timely fashion.
  • A need for additional information. Requests for additional information are processed through the Academic Personnel Office. CAP does not contact individuals or Schools directly.
  • Need for external letters. CAP may request that the School solicit additional external reviews when, for example, the group of letter writers largely consists of close collaborators and friends of the candidate; too many writers represent non-research or non-academic entities; a UC perspective on appropriate step is necessary; or few of the letters received are sufficiently analytical to assist CAP in its review.
  • Formation of an ad hoc committee. In most cases, CAP acts as its own ad hoc committee. For cases in which CAP has identified a need for more information on scholarly contributions in the file, however, an ad hoc committee may be formed to provide specific expertise. This adds considerable time to the review process. (Formation of the ad hoc committee is described in APM 220-80-g.)
  • Disagreement among levels of review on the action proposed. The process of responding to a preliminary decision can be lengthy.

What is the expected teaching load? How is quality of teaching determined?

What is considered appropriate quantity (minimum number of courses/credit hours) and quality of teaching, as well as the appropriate balance between upper and lower division courses and graduate and undergraduate courses, will vary by Unit and by School. It is important that a candidate understand what is considered an average load and distribution, as well as what level of student evaluation scores are considered acceptable, within his or her own Unit and School. New faculty should discuss these expectations with the AP Chair or a senior faculty member.

In evaluating the teaching record, reviewers consider the following points to be important:

With regard to quantity of teaching, it should be within the norm for the Unit:

  • Is the candidate carrying his or her share of the teaching load in the Unit?
  • What is the balance between lower- and upper-division courses?
  • What is the balance between undergraduate and graduate courses?

With regard to quality, reviewers will want to determine whether the candidate demonstrates excellence in teaching:

  • Does she or he have good to excellent student and peer evaluations?
  • Has he or she shown evidence of trying to improve in areas that have received negative comments?
  • When there has been a serious problem with a class, has the candidate sought help from the AP Chair, the Center for Engaged Teaching and Learning, or a faculty mentor?
  • Is the Unit satisfied with the level of learning in fundamental undergraduate courses; i.e., are the students well-prepared for subsequent advanced courses?
  • Are there graduate students working with the candidate and are they making good progress toward finishing degree requirements?
  • Are graduate students getting good jobs or postdoctoral positions?

Are some service activities more important, or given more “credit,” than others?

Yes. Reviewers recognize that there are hierarchies of activities and that the most important assignments are those requiring a lot of time, effort, and/or expertise. Specific credit is given for extraordinary activities like chairing committees/panels/societies/public service organizations, acting as an expert witness, editing a journal, representing the University, organizing a scientific congress, giving invited lectures or keynote speeches, advising federal, state, or foreign governments, advising other colleges, universities or foundations, and so on.

How can a faculty member exclude others (Unit Chairs, Dean, members of CAP, extramural referees, etc.) from participating in a review?

Although a faculty member has no absolute right to exclude anyone who would normally participate in the review (members of the Bylaw 55 Unit, the Dean, or members of CAP), he or she may give notice in writing of his or her concerns, which are generally honored. Reviewers at all levels will in any case be aware of any potential prejudice and will take the notice into consideration. Explanation of the grounds for suspected prejudice might be helpful to reviewers. The complex and multi-tiered nature of the UC review system goes as far as is practical toward obviating the effects of prejudicial reviews or actions. Sometimes a person who is presumed to be prejudiced against a candidate can in fact be a strong supporter and vice versa.

What if a candidate for an Assistant Professor appointment has no teaching experience, as is sometimes the case in the sciences?

CAP understands this aspect of these fields, and has frequently voted for appointment if the scholarship looks very good. If a candidate has no teaching experience, or is unable to obtain teaching evaluations, it is best to address this fact in the Case Analysis. If evaluations are provided, ALL should be included, not a selection chosen by the candidate.

What kinds of professional service activities are usually engaged in by faculty members?

The candidate’s professional activities will be examined for evidence of achievement and leadership in the field and of demonstrated progressiveness in the development or utilization of new techniques and approaches for the solution of professional problems. Examples of the types of activities which are common include: reviewing of articles, books, or works of art; membership on editorial boards and research society committees; organization of symposia; and other such activities which give faculty members opportunities to use their leadership skills. Invitations to work with professional groups may also indicate that one’s research or creative work is recognized and valued nationally and/or internationally.

Are the names of external referees in fact held in confidence?

Yes. CAP has no direct evidence of breaches of this confidence except, perhaps, for those personnel cases that have gone to court. The authors of letters are urged not to betray themselves as authors in the body of the letter. Revealing comments, however, probably account for most cases in which the reviewed faculty member learns the letter writer’s identity.

What is meant by “research or creative activity”?

In the APM, “research” usually refers to scholarly investigative endeavors, while creative activity usually describes activities in areas of the humanities and the arts, such as music composition/performance, theater and dance, creative writing, etc. Evidence submitted to document achievements in this category includes published articles, books, recordings, works of art, videos, etc.

Can CAP distinguish and reward real service as opposed to nominal membership on a committee?

Not without the Unit’s help. CAP welcomes testimony from committee chairs or whomever can comment on the real effectiveness of service as part of the file. This is especially the case when extensive service is judged to compensate for weakness in other parts of the file.

How can non-UC referees be expected to understand our step system?

They cannot entirely, but some steps (tenure, Full Professor) are widely understood in this country. If a letter provides a thorough analysis of a candidate’s work, CAP can interpret the assessment in terms of an appropriate UC step.

How does a reviewer evaluate the research/creativity category? Are both quality and quantity evaluated?

All reviewers consider both quality and quantity important. Quantity during the review period, i.e., productivity, is evaluated, but the specific minimum level of productivity expected will vary by discipline and Unit, and the Case Analysis should discuss whether productivity meets the departmental norm. Quality is judged by the importance and the impact of the work. Some of the factors used to judge impact are:

  • Venue where work is published, i.e., high-quality, peer-reviewed journals, and highly respected presses for books.
  • Citations; i.e., where and how many. Whereas citations in journal articles are important indicators of the timeliness and impact of a work, citations in reviews, monographs and textbooks are important indicators of a candidate’s national or international reputation.
  • Critiques of the work.
  • Exhibitions or performances in highly respected galleries, museums, concert halls, etc.

How do activities related to diversity affect the academic review process?

In July 2005 changes were adopted to APM 210-1.d, the UC policy that governs faculty appointment, promotion and appraisal reviews. The principle governing these changes is contained in the following statement on the criteria for personnel actions: “Teaching, research, professional and public service contributions that promote diversity and equal opportunity are to be encouraged and given recognition in the evaluation of a candidate’s qualifications.”
Faculty members in any field may engage in activities that concern diversity and equal opportunity in ways that conform to our research, teaching, and service mission as a public university. These contributions are not required for advancements or promotions, but faculty members who engage in such activities that meet the standards of excellence in their fields or disciplines should be recognized and rewarded.

Diversity efforts should be described in the designated section of the biobibliography (Section 7: University & Community Service). Diversity efforts and their contribution to the research, teaching, or service mission of the University should also be described in the Self-Statement. Chairs are strongly encouraged to highlight these contributions and to evaluate both the effort made and the effectiveness of the activity.

It doesn't.  Under APM 760, Family Accommodations for Childbearing and Childrearing are benefits provided to faculty to to promote an equitable and productive academic environment and to assist faculty and other academic appointees in balancing the needs of work and family. Decisions for ASMD and stop the clock or made in accordance with the APM and MAPP policies regardless of the tenure clock timeline.   If the need to take ASMD or Stop-the-Clock arises a faculty member can request leave by contacting the Academic Personnel Staff in their unit. As always, Stop-the-Clock may not be requested for the year in which the tenure review is scheduled.

How does the change to a seven-year tenure clock affect my eligibility for ASMD and/or Stop-the-Clock?

It doesn't.  Under APM 760, Family Accommodations for Childbearing and Childrearing are benefits provided to faculty in order to promote an equitable and productive academic environment and to assist faculty and other academic appointees in balancing the needs of work and family. Decisions for ASMD and stop the clock are made in accordance with the APM and MAPP policies regardless of the tenure clock timeline.   If the need to take ASMD or Stop-the-Clock arises, a faculty member can request leave by contacting the Academic Personnel Staff in their unit. As always, Stop-the-Clock may not be requested for the year in which the tenure review is scheduled.