Thursday, January 7, 2010

Writing an annual report

Yesterday I talked about getting my departmental annual reviews back and one commenter asked:

"Maybe you can enlighten us about how you wrote the review."


I started to write a comment, but then decided to turn it into a post. Basically, an excellent piece of advice that one of my colleagues has given me is to keep a simple Word file that tracks all of the little things that you do. Why is this important? Well, when you go to write an annual report it's easy to remember the big things like papers and grants, etc, but all the little stuff really adds up and is much harder to recall.

For example, every time I get a paper to review, I write down the date and what journal it was for. Same for grants. Represent the department at some university-wide meeting? Write it down. Receive some small recognition? Again, put it on paper. It's amazing how quickly things get forgotten when you have so much to do and getting it all on paper saves you buckets of time when it comes to writing the annual report. As another example, I gave four invited seminars last year at university around the area and because I wrote down all the details when they happened, it was easy to slot them into the review file. Rather than going through your calendar and emails looking for dates, it's all in one place.

Other than that, I asked for a template from someone a few years ahead of me whom I respect. I simply switched out their information for mine and I was off and running. Once you establish the document the first time it can just be added to in subsequent years, with the new information bolded. If you keep that sort of document up it can be the basis for your tenure package and make that process a whole lot easier as well.

8 comments:

  1. Our associate dean of faculty recommends we print out the emails for all promotion relevant activities and stick them in a file. Get asked to write a review? Print it out. Get asked to give a talk? Print it out. That way, you not only have a record of all of these things, but also "proof" of them for the big ole promotion & tenure folder.

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  2. And don't forget to keep your c.v. up to date. Same idea - it's easier to do it as you go along than to try to remember everything months later.

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  3. I keep a list like this, too. Otherwise, I would remember NOTHING because it's too damn busy all the time.

    Have to say, though, I resent having to produce pages and pages of "proof" that I actually did what I said I did. Am I not a professional? Why would I lie? It's easy enough to check if need be. It's just such an enormous waste of paper...sigh. If we could do it online, that would help. I would be happy to attach away. But printing it all out makes me crazed.

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  4. I don't print that garbage out. If they think I'm lying they can go look the shit up themselves.

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  5. My office is working on fine tuning a Faculty POrtal system we've built that is a super easily updated web system. It lets you track all your shit, talks to PubMed for you and builds you a personal webpage and prints out as a NIH formatted biosketch or institute/Dept. specific CV.

    Trying to get senior faculty to use it is like pulling teeth so I'm hoping to get some work study students to do data entry for them. But thankfully the Colleges and Depts like it so much the whole University is going to print-free review this year! w00t for the tech guys for a change!

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  6. I do the same thing and keep notes of things as I do them. We have an electronic system for our reviews which sucks in a big way because the people that wrote it don't have a clue. But it is good in that it means that I can update it periodically from my own list and then fine tune it at the end of the year. Now if I could just get the IT Fucknuts to understand that journals aren't necessarily tied to a specific professional society and that there are a gazillion of superb journals that are stand alone entities that need to be entered into the system as such my life would be so much easier.

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  7. Yay! Prof-like substance, my comment proved worthwhile, afterall. Thank you for sharing this.

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  8. I got this advice a few years ago, and I call it a "Professional Diary". I'm not even a real prof yet and it's already proven it's worth repeatedly...

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