Open Access Tenure: Fill out the Forms

Last night, I finally made the first pass through the dreaded MS Word document known as this year’s tenure forms. I was on deadline to send a draft to my paperwork person and the time had finally come.

For those playing along, I’m prepping for my fifth year review, which is my third internal/”my college only” review. Since April, I’ve been hacking away at bits and pieces of the paperwork and forms. Everything will go off to the P&T chair at the end of this month.

Some of this has been much easier this time. I have spent five years working with the women who are on my Evaluation of Librarianship Committee, so it was more of an opportunity to chat with them and share all the accomplishments I’ve had, rather than the terror of the first round that I went through during my third year. I’d already written my statements of librarianship, research, and service once, so that’s been more about overhaul rather than complete invention. [I mentioned at a meeting that it felt daunting debating a complete rewrite and several senior faculty assured me that they expect to see an updated version, not entirely new.] Only my interdisciplinary statement was in its infancy.

And so I opened this year’s Word document and then my 3Y Word document, which some of you may have downloaded and read a couple of years ago. To my relief, the majority of going through the 45 pages was copying and pasting and marking checkboxes that are formatted oddly.  I think everyone at my institution is looking forward to the day when we get an online system that will update this automatically and you can just click through a web-based form. I hear there is ($$$) software out there that will do this but with the current state budget…. A colleague in another college told me that they are pretty sure that compiling the tenure dossier for internal review last year cost the equivalent time of writing a paper. It sounds about right when I think about all of the time spent on checkboxes and such.

But for this round it wasn’t recreation of the wheel. And so by just after midnight, I sent off an email detailing various changes to discuss on Thursday and realized that I’m at about the 85% mark.

I mention my paperwork person–that’s assigned here. In addition to a research mentor (who tries valiantly to rein in my impulses to do everything), my paperwork person is there to answer questions about forms or statements or process and I’ve been throwing a lot of things at her over the course of the fall. She also, partially at my request earlier this summer, has held me accountable to deadlines. Every two weeks, something has been due to her. It didn’t have to be totally done but the drafts needed to be solid. As a result, I was ready several weeks early for my Evaluation of Librarianship committee (they get 1/3rd of the documents in almost-done-draft form) and now, November 3, I’m nearly done.

Of course, I still have multiple outstanding research projects that everyone would love to see submitted or in semi-final manuscript format before the end of the month and that will take up all spare moments between now and then, but the paperwork isn’t the mountain it might otherwise be. That counts as a win in my book.