There’s Something About Sedona

Every other year, faculty at the University of Guelph are evaluated by their peers based on an agreement that describes their individual distribution of effort (DOE). This DOE outlines the weights assigned to three specific components of our academic jobs: research, teaching, and service. Most of the faculty follow a 40:40:20 rule, where 40% of their effort is assigned to research, 40% to teaching, and 20% to service.

As part of the evaluation process, faculty are required to submit an electronic CV (eCV) using an online tool that the University adopted several years ago. The tool allows us to keep an updated lifetime list of our research outcomes (e.g. articles published, grants received, talks given), teaching outcomes (e.g. courses taught, courses developed, graduate students mentored), and service outcomes (e.g. committees chaired on and off campus, conferences organized, community engagement). As you can imagine, a lifetime list of these types of activities can get rather lengthy.

What follows are two things. The first is a list of things that make the system a challenge to use. The second is a way to use the data in the system to generate an online, publically accessible and up to date CV that contains only the information we want to share. Honestly, the entire point of this post is to highlight this functionality, because 1) I’ve just learned about it and I think other faculty might also find it extremely useful, and 2) I’ve been suggesting that these data should be used in this way for some time.

Challenges

From a user interface design point of view, the system we use is – in my humble opinion – very poorly designed. The system is not appropriately responsive so any changes to the size of the browser will affect the ability to, for example, add a new item. For someone who travels a lot, being able to enter information on the fly (pun intended) is important. Being able to do this using my iPhone would be amazing. However, in numerous cases, the non-responsive design results in most attempts to add a new record with me being ceremoniously logged out of the system.

Beyond this, search functions are lacking – which becomes problematic when I can only view 25 records at a time. Further, the sort features are limited and not altogether robust. This is extremely frustrating when I need to update something that doesn’t appear on the first page.

When I want to add information – such as a new journal article – the drop-down menus that I have to work with contains hundreds of options that may or may not include the jump to the position in the list that begins with the letter I just typed functionality. As such, I end up having to scroll through far too many options when other, better, user-friendlier design options are available.

The system also doesn’t work with other systems. If I want to apply to one of the tri-council funding agencies in Canada (i.e. NSERC, CIHR, SSHRC), I need to submit a Canadian Common CV. This system too suffers from usability issues. However, they don’t speak to each other. If I enter something in the UofG’s eCV, I have to also enter it into the Canadian Common CV. Administratively, this is an excessive amount of overhead to achieve the exact same goal.

And of course, the CV that it produces isn’t exactly what I would use. For me, it’s not terribly aesthetically pleasing, and to be honest, not really a document that I consider reflective of me. Any of my students will tell you that I’m extremely critical of formatting, and, well, the eCV lacks in this area. To my knowledge, there’s no ability to introduce anything unique that might make my CV stand out; it’s simply words on a page.

Autogenerate a Publically Accessible CV

As mentioned, however, the point of this post is not to completely rip apart the system we use. I like the idea of an online system to track our outputs. In fact, I find some pleasure in taking a walk down memory lane when I’m updating it. Students and projects and other activities that I haven’t thought of in a while are suddenly at the front of my mind. In many cases (ignoring those times when the system itself gets on my last nerve), I end up smiling as I reflect on the past.

Since its adoption at the University of Guelph, I wondered why we couldn’t access the data stored in the system in such a way as to automatically create a faculty webpage. As I mentioned before, we are oft required to manage multiple online CVs. But we also often like to post lists of our most recent publications and conferences on our websites so that potential students, other faculty, and the tax-paying public can get a sense of what we are up to. This means another CV that we need to maintain. Having access to the data in our eCV could allow us to automatically generate this list.

And here is the point of my post. For all its challenges, I’ve just learned this week that our eCV allows for a public facing version of our CV. Better than that, we can identify specifically what is shown. I’m not sure if this functionality is common knowledge amongst my colleagues. Anyway, you can check out my public facing lifetime list of publications and presentations here (note – I’m in the process of getting everything updated for my two-year evaluation, so this list is not complete as of yet).

For any faculty at UofG interested in doing this, here are the steps:

  • Create a new template that displays only the outputs you want on your CV:
    1. From the dashboard, select the Builders & Tools menu, then the Template Builder option.
    2. Click the New button in the top right corner of the page; enter a template name when prompted.
    3. Use the first action item (a page) to add a new entry to the list. When you select this, you’ll be able to select a category (e.g. research, teaching, or service components), and a type (updated based on the category selected). You should recognize the various categories and types as common headings in the system. You can also enter filter, display, and sorting options, as necessary.
    4. Use the second action item (a pencil) to edit any entry in the list.
    5. Using the buttons at the top of the page (i.e. Templates, Components, Header, Settings, View, and Help), you’ll be able to update and modify your template as you see fit.
  • Set your eCV to public:
    1. From the dashboard, select Profile from the menu bar, then the Public tab. Your public URL will be at the top of the page. A public version of the CV can be found by adding /CV/ to the end of that URL.
    2. Check “Allow people to see my CV”, and then select the CV you want people to see from the drop-down list that appears. The template you’ve created as part of the create a new template step above may not appear immediately.
    3. I’ve also checked “Allow people to see my office location”, “Allow people to see my website address”, “Allow people to see my bio” (pulled from the narratives), and “Allow people to see my tenure year” for my autogenerated page and CV.

That’s it! If you have any questions about this process, feel free to message me. I’ll do my best to help you out. Happy eCV’ing!

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