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Using a Dossier to Tell Your Story

- Tuesday, May 2, 2023
OAA Handbook webpage

Last time we discussed the value of a 3-page narrative (a key part of your A&P promotion application). This 3-page narrative describes your unique position, highlights what you have accomplished in your current role, and describes the contributions you plan to make in your new role. You can read more about that here.

Building on that idea, this time we’ll focus on the dossier. The term “dossier” is listed 81 times in the most current version of OSU’s Office of Academic Affairs (OAA) Policies and Procedures Handbook - Volume 3. A faculty-type dossier is like a 3-page narrative in that it describes your unique position, highlights what you have accomplished, and includes sections for future plans.

The elements of a faculty-type dossier are prescribed in the OAA Core Dossier Template found in both Word and PDF formats here. Compared to a 3-page narrative, a dossier affords you much more opportunity for in-depth detail and therefore more readily illustrates a trajectory or pattern of professional growth over time.

Faculty at OSU must follow this dossier outline when compiling their accomplishments and contributions for tenure and/or promotion in rank. (Note: We’ll explore a dossier submitted as part of an application for a faculty position and the role and function of your CV in a future post – “CV” is mentioned only 3 times, BTW.) Your dossier as a member of the OSU faculty would include these three parts:

  1. Introduction - where you describe your position, your academic training, positions held, etc.
  2. Core Dossier - where you list and describe your teaching, scholarly/creative and service contributions and accomplishments in reverse chronological order
  3. Evaluation - which includes your teaching evaluation data such as EEET and/or SEI reports, Peer Evaluation of Teaching letters, etc. (remember, our APT requires 3 evaluations of teaching via EEET and 1 peer evaluation of teaching letter per year)

Much of the faculty dossier appears in lists and the lists are arranged in outline form. The contents are accompanied by narratives of a length “no longer than 750 words” (in most every case). Your narratives provide context for much of your dossier content. Narratives include:

  1. your biographical statement (found in the Introduction section)
  2. curriculum you have developed and/or revised
  3. your teaching approach, goals, accomplishments and future plans
  4. how you have used formal evaluation of instruction to improve your teaching
  5. focus of your research/creative/scholarly work including accomplishments and future plans
  6. indicators of the quality of your scholarly/creative work
  7. a description of goals and impact of your service and engagement

If you are feeling like this is a lot to be tracking and including in your dossier, there is some hope. OAA guidelines offer this on what to include:

  1. Probationary faculty (i.e., untenured faculty) should list teaching and service accomplishments since date of hire as faculty.
  2. Tenured faculty should list only those teaching and service accomplishments that occurred in the previous 5 years or since date of last promotion, whichever is most recent.
  3. All of your scholarly/creative contributions can be listed in your Research and Creative Activity section so long as you clearly denote all those since appointment or last promotion at OSU.

In short, the faculty dossier at OSU is a big deal. The dossier is required of all faculty as part of:

  1. the tenure review process
  2. promotion in rank
  3. annual performance review process
  4. so much more that I’d love to share but know I have already taxed your attention with this long post

One last item: For a number of years now the university has provided a faculty dossier platform (you may know of the current system referred to as Vita). Realizing the value of an institution-wide faculty information system, Interfolio has recently been chosen as the new platform for dossiers (and other key information to aid in reporting). This will replace the increasingly unstable Vita system. If you are a Vita user, please note that NONE OF YOUR EXISTING Vita data will be transferred or migrated to the new system. To preserve the content that enables you to most easily tell your story, please download your current dossier and any other valuable reporting data (e.g. Annual Performance Report) from Vita ASAP by clicking the large “Review Dossier” button at and then by clicking "Request Dossier". Once generated, you can click “Save as Word” in the upper right-hand corner of the generated dossier and edit as needed.

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