Career Advancement FAQ with Junior Faculty

To increase the clarity and understanding of the appointments, promotion, and tenure process, the Office of Faculty Development provides answers to frequently asked questions. Explore the links below. If your question is not addressed here, you can access a more comprehensive Q&A with 60 questions submitted by junior faculty

How do I initiate the promotion process? 
You will need to provide a variety of documents both to your division or department and to human resources. Look at the checklist of required documents on the appointments, promotion, and tenure site, with links to the actual forms. 

In addition, you will need to discuss your readiness with your Division Chief, Site Chair, or Department Chair. Some departments have internal committees that review all the documents before sending them to the appointments and promotions committee while others may only have a review by the chair or designee. 

What are the benefits of advancement?  
Everyone likes to be recognized for the work they have done and moving from Assistant to Associate Professor is a comment on how successful you have been. Moving up to full Professor is a remarkably high bar in every track and represents another significant step in your career. In general, rising in rank confirms for you, and tells your peers, that you have met expectations and done the job that you aspire to do.  

Does promotion or tenure influence my salary or benefits? 
Compensation is a decision made by departments, not the Appointments, Promotions, and Tenure Committee. It is common for faculty to receive salary increases when they are promoted, but it does not always go hand-in-hand. Tenure does not affect compensation at all. Typically, benefits only change if an increase in salary causes them to do so. For instance, if you are a full-time faculty member promoted to Associate or full Professor in any of the four tracks, you will be eligible to apply for tuition grant-in-aid assistance for your children who are enrolled in degree-granting educational programs, provided you are meeting program criteria. 

If I am on the Investigator Track, do I need to have received National Institutes of Health RO1 funding to move from Assistant to Associate Professor?  
For the Investigator Track, R01 is the coin of the realm, but the Appointments, Promotions, and Tenure Committee recognize that this is not necessarily available to every investigator in every field. The Committee does not require an R01 grant, but you must have received similar substantial funding, such as large grants from charitable organizations. We also view other federal funding, such as funding from the Veterans Administration and the Department of Defense, favorably. We view the progression of extramural funding as a metric to show that the value of your work is evolving. 

What are the scholarship expectations for the Clinician and/or Educator Track?  
If you are on the Clinician and/or Educator Track, you are not required to perform original research, but scholarly output is important. For example, running an educational program or creating a curriculum which has been published and/or promulgated is good evidence of scholarship. Scholarly activity is especially important when seeking Associate or full Professorship. 

The Committee suggests thinking about your role as a clinician, such as performance measures, becoming an expert in your discipline, and developing a reputation at various geographical levels. Outside of publications, you can establish your reputation through patient referrals, participation in professional societies, and membership on committees of national organizations in your field. For example, participating in committees that issue standards in your field is a great way to demonstrate excellence and reputation. Faculty should speak to their department leadership for help getting on those committees because Chairs are typically recognized internationally and should be able to help position you for those roles. 

How many publications do you need to become an Associate Professor on the Investigator Track?  
The Committee does not require a specific number of publications because we evaluate the entire package. For example, publications in Nature, Cell, or similarly well-regarded peer-reviewed journals hold more weight than publication in lesser-impact journals. We do not want to encourage faculty to slice and dice their work just to meet a specific number of publications that might be less impactful than if they were to present especially important work in one important journal. We consider the journal’s H index and other impact measures. Keep in mind that you can annotate your publications on your CV to describe your particular role in each publication. 

What are the relative weights of first, middle, and last author publications?  
The Committee is looking to see that your career is following the traditional trajectory, as reflected by your role on scholarly work in your field. The Committee understands the value of team science, so we expect to see early career faculty as middle authors. You can annotate the publications on your CV to explain the role you played in each work. As you gain more seniority and move towards the Associate level, we will look to see first author publications because it represents a leadership role. For the full Professor, the Committee expects last author publications because it represents a supervisory role. 

How does the Committee measure regional or national recognition?  
More than anything, external referee letters support the scope of reputation. It is to your advantage that your reviewers come from far and wide. For example, letters from Utah or California support and validate the scope of your reputation more so than letters from New York metropolitan region. We expect advancing scholars to build a reputation beyond the metropolitan region. 

Who should I choose as external reviewers? 
Ideally, you should select people who can speak to the quality and impact of your work. We are looking to see that your reviews can speak to the field in which you are engaged. They should not be someone you have collaborated with closely within the last two years. Remember that a wider geographical range of letters is to your benefit. Please refer to the Appointments, Promotions, and Tenure website for clarification on reviewer requirements and exclusions. 

What is the expected/average time frame to obtain promotion to the next rank?  
The Committee and the institution want to see that every faculty member is on the right track at the right rank. We recognize this is a dynamic process that should occur at a reasonable pace. It is nearly impossible to quantify this metric, considering the different pace for the various tracks and disciplines. Generally, those who remain at a rank for many years demonstrate a lack of initiative, by the candidate and/or the department, to recognize that these transitions should take place. The Committee takes a holistic approach for every candidate and understands that no two candidates are the same. They recognize that clinicians have other responsibilities, so the Committee looks for a balance of clinical excellence and traditional scholarly productivity. The Investigator Track is the only track held to the “up-or-out” policy: no more than seven years as Assistant, nine years as Associate if untenured, and ten years at full Professor if untenured. Some people on the Investigator Track move faster than this timeframe. Anyone on the Investigator Track who does not meet the criteria for the next rank within the allotted time frame should speak to their chair about moving into the most appropriate tracks. 

Can someone move into the Investigator Track from the Research or Clinician and/or Educator track? How is this accomplished?  
Yes, if you meet the qualifications: independently funded research program with many scholarship outputs. The Committee recommends waiting until you are ready for promotion to the next rank because there is no benefit in transitioning to a different track while staying at your current rank. The Department Chair may recommend a track change as part of their statement of support.