Dossier Guidelines for Library Faculty

Guidelines on dossier style:

Incorporating Substitute Section III for Librarians

Updated January 2020

NOTE:  Always refer to the latest update of the Provost’s Communication no. 9.  This document supplies supplementary guidance and must be used in context of Communication no. 9.

“Decisions to promote faculty members and to award tenure are the most important made by the University, for they determine the quality of the faculty for decades to come. Because tenure has consequences of long life and great magnitude, it should be awarded only when the best interest of the University of Illinois is clearly served by doing so. This is the overriding criterion.”


General Tips


  • The maximum length for Sections I through V is 28 pages, including the evaluative statements. This allows one page for cover sheet and one page for comments by the University Librarian to keep within the stipulated 30-page maximum.
  • Portions drafted by the candidate for promotion within Sections I through V should be limited to about 15 pages (allowing 10+ pages for evaluative comments by other individual(s), peer committee summary, list of external evaluators, etc.).
  • The Campus Committee on Promotion and Tenure is only interested in a candidate’s professional accomplishments after joining the University of Illinois faculty, or after his/her last promotion at the University. The lists of publications, however, may derive from one’s entire professional career.
  • Avoid unnecessary explanatory comments and/or the listing of relatively minor and repetitious activities that might be construed as “padding” by critical readers.
  • Summarize rather than list.
  • Avoid redundancy by placing information and/or comments only under the most appropriate headings.


  • Remember that non-librarians will read promotion papers; one should never assume that concepts, terminology, and acronyms in common use among librarians will be understood by those members of the Campus Committee on Promotion and Tenure.
  • Strive at all times to avoid discipline-specific jargon.
  • Except for clearly recognizable terms (e.g., USA, U of I), avoid using an acronym without insuring that the full name (of organization, agency, etc.) has been first used, followed by the acronym within parentheses; e.g., “…the American Library Association (ALA).”


  • Use standard headings, as provided on the “Outline of Promotion Dossier” issued by the University Provost’s office.  Use the word template as the basis for your dossier.
  • Follow the lettered and numbered headings in the outline. Where there is no information for a specific section, please note “None.” When a section is not relevant to Librarianship, please note “Not applicable.”  The latter should be used sparingly,e.g. in the case of patents.
  • List items in chronological order from past to present within each section (i.e. most recent items at bottom of the list).
  • The Library no longer mandates a particular citation style, but whatever style you choose, follow it precisely.
  • Strive for consistency in respect to spacing, punctuation, and capitalization throughout the document.
  • Spell out months in full; e.g., “February 28, 1999″ instead of ” Feb. 28, 1999.”
  • The designation of two specific years separated by a hyphen should be indicated in full. (E.g.: “1997-1998” or “1999-2001” rather than “1997-98” or “1999-01.)”
  • Capitalize “University” and “Library” when applied specifically to the University of Illinois and to the University’s Library system.
  • Capitalize names of departmental units, committees, and University divisions (e.g.: “The Music and Performing Arts Library provides an intensive bibliographic instruction program for graduate students of the School of Music…” – “Shortly after assuming my present position at the University in 2002…” – “My research interests on interface design have been developed in conjunction with my activities as a member of the Library’s Public Access Catalog Team…”).
  • If you use a citation manager to generate your publication list, be certain to proofread the results very carefully, as errors in capitalization and punctuation often occur.
  • Choose a standard font (Times New Roman is always a good choice), no less than 11pt.
  • Do not add headers, footers, borders, colors, or other ‘creative’ elements to the dossier.
  • Insert page numbers in the upper right-hand corners.

Section-by-section guidelines

PRC Cover Materials:

  • Every year, the evaluators must include a cover sheet that lists the candidate’s name and pre-tenure year (e.g. 2Y), the names and titles of the evaluators, and the names of the internal or external reviewers consulted.    The candidate must not see this cover sheet.     DossierCoverSheet0Y5Y.
  • Every year, the evaluators should append a signature sheet, which the candidate and the evaluators must sign. SignaturePage

Personal Information Header

The library prefers the following information in a centered header preceding Section I, on separate lines:

  • Name (Tenure Code, e.g. 2Y)
  • Rank
  • Official Job Title
  • Example:

David Ward (2Y)
Assistant Professor
Reference Librarian

1. Personal History and Professional Experience

1.A.  Educational Background

  • Refer to Communication Nine.

1.B.  List of Academic Positions since Final Degree

  • Do not list graduate assistantships or other pre-professional appointments.

1.C.  Other Professional Employment

  • Refer to Communication Nine.

1.D.  Honors, Recognitions, and Outstanding Achievements

  • List Fellowships, prizes, etc. that indicate national and international stature in scholarship and engagement, as appropriate to the rank sought; do not include student awards

1.E. Invited Lectures and Invited Conference Presentations Since Last Promotion

  • This section is reserved for invitations to give lectures, keynote speeches, plenary sessions and so on, where you were invited by the conference organizer, without any prior involvement on your part, including formal or informal submission or any other prompting.  It is critical to avoid padding this section with items such as those listed below, and there is no expectation or requirement that anything be listed here, particularly in the case of candidates for promotion to associate professor.
  1. Invitations to moderate a panel should not be listed here.
  2. Invitations to present a conference paper should not be listed here, when the invitation originates with the panel or session organizer, as opposed to the conference organizer or program committee.
  3. If you are asked to give a presentation because of your job title or position, rather than your reputation as a scholar, do not list it here.  List in Service.
  4. If your paper or presentation goes through a peer review process and is accepted after an invitation to submit it for review, it is not considered an invited lecture.
  • Lectures, conference presentations, and other presentations that do not meet the criteria for “invited” should be listed in the Service section (IV).

1.F. Offices Held in Professional Societies

  • Include major elected offices in ALA and similar groups, but not appointed committee chairships.  List appointed positions under Service (IV.A.2).

1.G.  Editorships of Journals or Other Learned Publications

  • Do not include newsletters or editorships here, list under service.

1.H. Grants Received since Last Promotion at UIUC

  • Grants that have the Library as primary beneficiary, e.g., CARLI collection grants, should be listed under Service (IV).
  • Grants to support your research, including RPC and Campus Reserach Board grants, may be listed here, but should be separated from external grants.
  • Travel grants (e.g. Scholar’s Travel Fund) should also be grouped separately from ex and summarized; e.g.” Six scholars travel funds, totaling $x,xxx).”

1.I.  Review Panels

  • e.g. Grant proposal review panels for IMLS, NEH or NSF, or accrediting team for ALA.

2. Publications and Creative Works

  • Within each category, number each publication.
  • Don’t annotate citations.  Instead, describe your most important publications in the Research section (V).
  • The phrase “Accepted for Publication” should be used only where a written commitment to publish has been received from a publisher, subject only to final technical editing. The term should not be used to describe works still in initial development, even if a contract or invitation to publish has been offered. Works in the latter category should be described with the phrase “Incomplete work under contract to…” or comparable wording.
  • Provide inclusive page numbers for publications in journals; for unnumbered publications, include approximate pages in typescript.
  • List all publications and creative works over the course of the candidate’s career (this also applies to a candidate for promotion to Full Professor).
  • Use the following publication-type indicators from Communication 9:

    • Place a single pound sign (#) before any publication derived from the candidate’s thesis.

    • Place a single asterisk (*) before any publication that has undergone stringent editorial review by peers.

    • Place a plus sign (+) before any publication that was invited and carries special prestige and recognition

2.A.  Doctoral Thesis Title

2.B. Books Authored or Co-Authored (in print or accepted)

2.C. Books Edited or Co-Edited (in print or accepted)

2.D.  Chapters in Books (in print or accepted)

  • Some publishers (e.g. Taylor & Francis, formerly Haworth Press) reprint journal issues as books or publish them simultaneously in both formats.  List such dual publications in one section only, with a parenthetical reference to the other format.  E.g., Searing, Susan E. (2007).  Integrating assessment into recurring information literacy instruction: a case study from LIS education.  In The teaching library: approaches to assessing information literacy instruction, pp. 191-218. Ed. by Scott Walter.  New York: Haworth Press, 2007. (Published simultaneously in Public Services Quarterly 3, no. 1/2 (2007), 191-218.)

2.E.  Monographs (in print or accepted)

  • “Monograph” is not used here in the traditional library sense as a synonym for any non-serial book.  List items longer than an article but shorter than a book.

2.F.  Articles in Journals (in print or accepted)

  • See note about double publication under “Chapters in Books” above.

2.G.  Creative Works (Exhibitions, Commissions, Competitions, Performances, Designs, Art or Architecture Executed)

  • Only list library exhibits if they involve significant scholarly research and interpretation.
  • For less rigorous exhibits, if they are an important component of your librarianship or service, discuss them in those sections (III.B.2 and/or IV.A.3).

2.H.  Patents

  •  If you have none, it is appropriate to write “Not Applicable” as they are not an expectation of the discipline.

2.I.  Bulletins, Reports, or Conference Proceedings (in print or accepted)

  • Include newsletter articles here if they are substantive.  Do not list blog posts or other social media content.

2.J.  Abstracts (in print or accepted)

2.K. Book Reviews (in print or accepted)

  • List only substantial reviews and review essays.  Single-paragraph reviews, such as those in Choice, should be summarized under Service (IV.A.2).

2.L. Refereed Conference Papers and Presentations

  • Only include items for which there was a written abstract or full paper that underwent rigorous peer review prior to acceptance.
  • List full day and date for all presentations, e.g. “May 28, 2016.”

2.M.  Other

  • You can use this section to list encyclopedia articles, substantial scholarly websites, or other publications that do not fit in the above categories.
  • Do not pad this section with inconsequential items.

3. Resident Instruction (Substitute Section III for Librarians)

3.A.  Summary of Librarianship and Instruction.

  • Briefly (1-2 paragraphs) and objectively describe your position and its responsibilities.
  • Write a narrative rather than bullet points.  For example, “As the English Librarian, I am responsible for the management, collection development, and the instruction and reference services of the English Library.”

3.A.0.  Descriptive Data: Librarianship.

Generally, no more than three major areas will be addressed.  Although there is no prescribed format for this section, candidate typically group activities into categories reflecting the most significant areas of responsibility and impact.  The following categories are not absolute, but provide examples.  You may construct your own categories as appropriate, e.g.  “User services” instead of “reference”.  Put your most substantial categories first and use a narrative form, not a bullet list, to group related activities into a coherent description of your work.

  • Collection development : includes materials selection, collection analysis and evaluation, collection policy statements,  replacement policies, weeding policies, acquisitions lists, development of vendor/publisher relationships, management of approval plans and blanket orders, management of serials, or other activities related to collection development.
  • Preservation : includes selection and assessment of materials for preservation and replacement activities, disaster planning and security, managing preservation projects, application of preservation techniques to library materials, preservation training of staff, working with professional conservators and vendors to implement reformatting initiatives, or other activities related to preservation.
  • Bibliographic control : imposing or deriving an organizational structure to provide access to information resources (in any format) for effective retrieval. Includes: original cataloging, cataloging with copy, online authority control, maintenance of circulation systems, preparation of in-house indexes or finding guides to materials.
  • Reference service : assisting users in the discovery, access, and utilization of information resources. Includes performance of regularly scheduled reference service, provision of computer-based services, cooperative reference referral, preparation of guides and handouts.
  • User education : creating and providing print or electronic user guides, maps, signs, tours; class presentations including participation in library-wide programs, preparation of exhibits highlighting collections or services, provision of aids for using the online catalog, and other teaching activities provided to students and faculty on campus, as well as other local and regional organizations.
  • Faculty liaison : regular contact with faculty and staff, both within the library and through other campus departments.
  • Systems activities : software development, implementation and monitoring of online systems (including online catalog, journal article databases, locally generated online databases, etc.), development and maintenance of local area and wide area networks and Web servers, liaison with programmers, statewide systems governance organizations, and other systems organizations on campus.
  • Management activities :
    • Personnel: hiring and supervision (staff, librarians, and graduate assistants), supervision of student workers or volunteers, job-related staff training, workshops or lectures presented to library faculty.
    • Operations:  Strategic planning; statistical reporting; evaluation of service; unit promotional and development activities; faculty liaison;
    • Budgetary: management of library materials budgets, coordination of acquisition funds, budgetary reports; management of library operational budgets, requests for grants and other funding, fiscal accountability, budgetary reports.


  • Write for an audience of non-librarians.  To test if you have the tone and terminology right, have a non-librarian member of the University faculty read it over.
  • Describe your work in terms of its impact and its contribution to achieving the Library’s and the University’s missions. Don’t just provide a laundry list of activities, nor a year-by-year record.   Use an active, upbeat voice.
  • Distinguish between yourself and the job or unit. Emphasize your own accomplishments, as they contribute to the overall mission of your unit and the Library.
  • This section must provide a narrative, not a list.  Avoid bullets!
  • This section will grow and change each year as you mature into your position, take on new projects, etc.  There is a three-page limit, so leave room for growth, and summarize activities as you move into 3, 4, and 5Y.
  • Avoid professional jargon and acronyms.
  • Portray your accomplishments with enthusiasm.
  • Describe your work in terms that convey that this is a faculty position; be careful to use language that would not usually be used for academic professionals or clerical workers.

3.A.1. Descriptive Data: Instruction.

  • See Communication 9.
  • Typically, you will complete this section only if you’ve taught credit courses at UIUC, and provide it in the format specified in Communication Nine.

3.A.2. Supervision of Graduate Students.

  • See Communication 9.
  • Use this category only if you have officially served as faculty adviser for a doctoral dissertation or masters thesis, or have served on an examining committee.  You must be expressly designated a member of the Graduate Faculty by the Graduate College to serve in this capacity.  This designation is not automatically extended to members of the Library faculty.
  • Do not include supervision of graduate assistants in this section.  Rather, include your supervision of pre-professional employees in your description of librarianship (III.A.0).

3.A.3. Supervision of Undergraduate Students.

3.A.4 Other Contributions to Instructional Programs.

  • See Communication 9.
  • List significant instructional contributions of other sorts when they are provided to graduate or undergraduate students, e.g. through development of course materials used by other instructors, through professional training provided to Graduate Assistants, and through extensive independent study or informal interactions with students.
  • List practicum supervision here.  Identify practicums by content, not by the student’s name.
  • If you are the instructor of record for an independent study course, list it here.
  • If you’ve contributed in a major way to another person’s teaching (e.g., designing the syllabus, shaping assignments, creating resource guides), you may include it in this section, but do not over-state your role.
  • Do not list continuing education workshops, instructional sessions at conferences, or similar contribution. These should be listed under IV.A.3.
  • Do not list guest lectures, course integrated instruction, or one-shot workshops here.  Instead, put them under University/Campus Service (IV.A.3).

3.B Evaluation of Librarianship and Instruction.

3.B.1 Student ICES Course Evaluation Questionnaires.

  • See Communication 9.
  • If no courses were taught and ICES evaluations are not available, write “Not Applicable.”

3.B.2. Candidate’s Report and Self-Review of Activities in the Area of Librarianship.

  • The candidate provides a personal statement of their philosophy of librarianship, methods, strengths, problems, goals, and other material in a manner that will present colleagues with a context for interpreting other evaluative information.


  • The statement should not exceed three pages.  Less is more.
  • As with III.A.0 (above), this section will grow and change each year.
  • Write for an audience of non-librarians.
  • Avoid professional jargon and acronyms.
  • Describe your work in terms of its impact and its contribution to achieving the Library’s and the University’s missions.
  • Distinguish between yourself and the job or unit. Emphasize your own accomplishments and avoid passive voice.
  • Very important: focus on overarching themes and goals. What is your philosophy of librarianship and how does it inform your work?  What is your passion?
  • Indicate WHY what you have been doing is important and HOW you succeeded in accomplishing it. This section will require frequent editing and a persuasive (but not heavy-handed) style.
  • Show growth and development over time.

3.B.3 Departmental Evaluation of Librarianship, Advising, and Student Mentoring.

  • Provide a narrative statement evaluating the candidate’s librarianship. Provide original evaluation and do not quote from referee letters which are included in the campus packet.

TIPS (for annual evaluators):

  • Be evaluative rather than descriptive. Focus is on HOW WELL the person is doing the job.
  • Avoid merely repeating facts from the candidates’ sections.
  • When you relate what the candidate has accomplished, explain why it matters and how well it was (or wasn’t) done.
  • Specify areas where the candidate needs improvement and strengthening.
  • Include strategies for improving performance and building relationships.
  • Consult colleagues within and outside the Library, as explained in ” Procedures for Peer Review Committees for NONTENURED tenure-track Library Faculty.”
  • Very important:  maintain the confidentiality of persons consulted. Use “a faculty member stated …” not, “Professor Perfect stated…” The list of the people consulted needs to be maintained in a separate cover sheet, not shared with the candidate, which will accompany the report when it is sent to the Faculty Review Committee.
  • Note: in the final promotion dossier, which the candidate does not see, individual reviewers are listed and named.
  • For models, see ” Sample Evaluative Statements.”

4. Service (Public Engagement, Professional/Disciplinary, and University)

  • If public engagement is a primary criterion for Promotion please see the requirements for “Alternative IV – Service for faculty members who have public engagement as a primary criterion for promotion”.  This is unlikely in the case of Library faculty, but is used in cases where public service was specified as a primary job responsibility at the time of appointment.

4.A. Summary of Service

  • Insert a brief statement here (3 paragraphs maximum) characterizing your service.
  • Use this section to discuss the impact of your service, and major accomplishments.
  • Do not simply list committees – the majority of that type of information should be included in the sections below.

4.A.1. Public Engagement

  • Do not feel that you need to pad this section; it is expected that many Library faculty will have nothing listed if this is not a major assigned duty of their position.
  • Do not include ordinary community service or volunteer work.
  • Contributions to the work of public libraries may go here.
  • Service done in collaboration with the Mortenson Center for International Library Programs should not be included here.  Put it under University/Campus Service (IV.A.3).
  • For more guidance, see A Faculty Guide for Relating Public Service to the Promotion and Tenure Review Process (2000)
  • If necessary, mark this section as “Not Applicable.”  Our jobs do not generally involve very much public service, and it is not expected that all librarians will have something to report in this category.  You will not be penalized for not reporting public engagement activities.

4.A.2. Service to Disciplinary and Professional Societies or Associations

Separate this section into a “Committees” header and a “Workshops/Presentations” header.

  • Do not annotate entries.
  • “Committees” should be bulleted and nested (e.g., list ACRL as a bullet, with ACRL committees as nested bullets under it.)
  • State the organization, (ACRL, SAA, etc.) your role (member, vice chair, etc.) and years of service, (2018-2020, 2020-present, etc.).
  • Although offices in societies should be listed in Section 1, lesser but still important contributions may be listed here such as committee memberships.
  • Do not annotate entries.
  • “Workshops/Presentations” should be numbered sequentially, and listed chronologically
  • List full day and date for all presentations, (e.g. May 28, 2016).
  • Include here, in a separate sub-section, conference presentations that did not result in a publication. This should include conferences that were not sponsored by disciplinary and professional societies.

4.A.3. University/Campus Service

  • Separate this into a “Committees” header and a “Workshops/Presentations” header
  • Do not annotate entries.
  • Distinguish between services within the Library and service to the wider university community.
  • Indicate service on departmental, college, campus and university committees as well as administrative assignments.
  • Include CARLI committees here.
  • Include work for the Mortenson Center here.
  • No internal unit committees should appear in the dossier (SSHEL, IAS, etc.)
  • “Workshops/Presentations” should be numbered sequentially, and listed chronologically

4.B. Evaluation of Service

  • This should be split into 3 paragraphs, one under each category below.
  • State something in all three categories.  If the candidate does not report any public engagement, which is typical, you can explain that it’s not expected.
  • If the candidate has served on an especially prestigious editorial board or advisory board to a major publisher, this should be noted here and explained.
  • Identify weaknesses in the service record and make specific suggestions for strategies to improve it.
  • If needed, recommend means by which the candidate can develop contacts and colleagues on a national level.
  • For models, see “Sample Evaluative Statements.”

4.B.1. Public Engagement

  • Provide evidence of quality and impact; describe dissemination of the public service work through publications and adoption by others; if appropriate, illustrate how the public service activities are integrated with research and/or teaching.

4.B.2. Service to Disciplinary and Professional Societies or Associations

4.B.3. University/Campus Service

5. Research

5.A. Candidate’s Statement of Research Goals and Accomplishments

  • The statement should tie together past research and how it relates to future research plans and to teaching/service duties.
  • In the rare case that public engagement is the primary basis for the recommended promotion, the statement must reflect accomplishments and future plans public engagement and how they relate to the research activity.
  • Answer the “so what?” question.  Why does your research matter?  What new knowledge have you created, and what significance does it hold for your field of inquiry?  Focus on impact.
  • Present an integrated research agenda.
  • If you have more than one research strand, tie them together with an overarching theme.
  • Indicate your research trajectory.  Demonstrate that you will keep building on the research you are doing today to produce more new knowledge in the near future and post-tenure.
  • Explain why you, in particular, are in a good position to undertake this research successfully.

5.B. Departmental Evaluation of Research Accomplishments

  • Research must be evaluated (not merely described) with emphasis on at least two publications or creative works.
  • The evaluation should address the dimensions of quality of execution, significance of topic and/or methodology, and impact on the field
  • Be specific in terms of evaluating the candidate’s progress on the research agenda, as measured against your previously expressed expectations.
  • Be specific in suggesting the next steps and a time frame for achieving them.  Say, “Finish the article by June 30” rather than “Finish the article in a timely way.”
  • Evaluate the anticipated value of any proposed research project for the candidate’s specific research agenda.  Counsel the candidate not to pursue projects that fall outside the research agenda.

5.C. Departmental Evaluation of Future Potential

  • Evaluate the candidate’s strategy for developing his or her research beyond recent accomplishments.
  • Assess, in realistic terms, the probable standing of the candidate in his or her field five years from now.
  • If there is a mismatch between the candidate’s research performance so far and the research agenda, or if the future research trajectory is underdeveloped, be clear about what has to happen to achieve a positive evaluation by next year.
  • Include an assessment of the probable standing of the candidate within the discipline five years from the present.
  • Encourage the candidate to think in terms of a career-long research trajectory, not tenure as the final goal.


HISTORY OF THIS DOCUMENT:   This page replaces two earlier documents which were in PDF format:  “Tips for Candidates” (last updated 10/20/2006) and “Dossier Style and Citation Guidelines” (last updated 10/20/2006).  Sue Searing merged the two and added new tips, based on discussions within the Promotion and Tenure Advisory Committee.  Katie Newman (FRC), Lori Mestre (PTAC), Lynne Rudasill (PTAC) and Mary Stuart (paper editor) suggested revisions, which have been made.  In addition, all of the tips that appear in the dossier outline in the Provost’s Communication no. 9 have been inserted into this outline as well. Small edits were made by Mary Laskowski (PTAC), January 2012 and April 2013.  In June 2015, Chris Prom and David Ward incorporated Substitute Section Three directly into the document, removed redundancies, and removed text copied direction from prior versions of Communication no. 9. (January 2019) David Ward included minor wording changes for headers from updates to Communication 9.