If your career focuses on research, you must submit a well-organized Investigator’s Portfolio as part of your promotion or tenure dossier. This is the section of your dossier where you highlight and explain your most noteworthy research discoveries, insights or advances. This is also the place where you can explain your unique contributions to multi-disciplinary (“team”) research programs. Your curriculum vitae (CV), which lists your grants, publications and other scholarly activities, is not enough to judge research excellence.
According to the Promotion Rules of the School of Medicine (SOM), “basic, clinical, translational, educational and other forms of research are highly valued by the School of Medicine.” The SOM also recognizes the importance of “inter-disciplinary science and the need for collaboration among investigators.” (See additional information below regarding research “independence.”)
As outlined in the SOM promotion matrix, “excellence” in research may be demonstrated through peer-reviewed scientific publications, competitive grant funding, a national or international reputation, and other evidence of originality, creativity and independence as an investigator. Naturally, when it comes to evaluating the quality of your scientific work, the information you provide in the Investigator’s Portfolio will be supplemented by letters written by outside experts and peers in your field of study.
Note that this FAQ is for research-intensive faculty members: the FAQ in the next issue of Faculty Matters will provide guidelines for documenting other types of scholarship (teaching, integration and application).
Basic Elements of a Well-Organized Investigator’s Portfolio
Narrative statement. In the Investigator’s Portfolio, you should include a narrative summary that explains the focus, importance and impact of your research and scholarly work to members of the SOM Faculty Promotions Committee. Examples are provided in the Investigator’s Portfolio section of the Guide to Building a Dossier for Promotion or Tenure (Additional checklists, FAQs, and resources are available under the “Promotion and Tenure” section of the Faculty Affairs website.) You should also explain how your work has supported the research programs and missions and enhanced the reputation of your department, the SOM or the university. Your narrative statement should not exceed two pages.
- Summary of funded research. For your most important funded projects, list the grant and describe (briefly) the purpose of the project. Highlight your role, especially if you are not the Principal Investigator (PI). Provide a brief summary of the nature and importance of the problem (the “context”) and the expected results or implications of the work. For multiple-PI grants and program project and center grants, be specific about how you contributed to the success of these grants. Limit this section to 250 words per project.
- Annotated bibliography. Help the promotions committee reviewers understand the significance of your publications. You should limit this section to a summary of no more than 10 of your “best” publications or scholarly works (i.e., those that have been the most significant or that have received the most attention). Greatest weight is given to recent publications (typically those published after the date of your most recent promotion or tenure award). For each publication or scholarly work, provide a brief summary of the nature and importance of the problem (the “context”) and the most important results. Provide electronic links, but not reprints, for the publications described in this section.
- Impact factors. As noted above, in your narrative statements and annotated bibliography, you will be highlighting the impact that your publications or scholarly work has had on your field. Metrics—such as the number of article citations, your h-index or others (e.g., those available at ImpactStory.org)—can be useful in making the case that the publication or scholarly work was significant. However, the Faculty Promotions Committee discourages the use of journal-based metrics (i.e., journal impact factors), since it is the quality and importance of the research contribution itself that is the key. Research importance can also be measured by its impact on policy, practice or the scientific discipline. Other outputs from scientific research, such as intellectual property, databases, software or others, may also be highlighted.
- National recognition. Provide additional details about the degree to which your publications and discoveries have been recognized by leaders in your field. For example, highlight: invited lectures, visiting professorships and plenary research presentations; work cited in editorials, scientific blogs or the lay press; service on NIH study sections or scientific advisory boards; editorship of scientific journals (or membership on editorial boards); and accomplishments recognized by national prizes or scientific awards.
- Evidence of originality, creativity and independence. This section of the Investigator’s Portfolio is particularly important for faculty candidates whose research is multi-disciplinary and whose publications and other accomplishments reflect the work of multi-disciplinary teams. Note that in 2012, the SOM promotion rules were amended, and the following definitions of “independence” were added: The School of Medicine recognizes the importance of inter-disciplinary science and the need for collaboration among investigators. Therefore, as recommended by the National Academy of Science, the School of Medicine defines an “independent investigator” as one who demonstrates “independence of thought”— that is, one who has defined a problem of interest, who has chosen or developed the best strategies and approaches to address that problem and who has contributed distinct intellectual expertise.
Therefore, use this section of your Investigator’s Portfolio to clarify the contributions that you have made to multi-author publications and co-PI and co-investigator grants. Be specific about your intellectual contributions and the manner in which you defined the research objectives, led the research efforts, interpreted the results or shaped the overall research program. Additional evidence should also be provided, such as letters from the principal investigators or research group heads with whom you have collaborated, outlining in detail your specific contributions and the unique skills that you brought to the team. For multi-authored papers, letters from the first- or senior-authors may also provide evidence of your specific contributions. The overall objective is to convey clearly and concisely to the Faculty Promotions Committee the importance, significance and broad impact of your cumulative research contributions.
- Institutional service. You should include descriptions of committee work and institutional service, if your efforts have been vital in supporting the general research missions of your department, the SOM or the university. Examples might include being a chair or member of an institutional review board or an institutional committee focusing on animal care, safety, conflicts-of-interest or scientific misconduct.
For a more complete discussion of these topics, refer to the Guide to Building a Dossier for Promotion or Tenure, which includes examples of narrative statements, annotated bibliographies and summaries of research funding.
For a complete list of Frequently Asked Questions, visit the Faculty Affairs website.