A Web-Based Data Repository and Review System for Faculty Evaluation and Promotion

Howell, Lydia Pleotis MD; Poon, Benny; Nesbitt, Thomas S. MD; Anders, Thomas F. MD

Academic Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e318067489e

The authors describe the development of MyInfoVault (MIV), a Web-based central data repository with a variety of integrated applications that generate a series of professional documents. These documents can be circulated and archived. MIV was developed and piloted over several years (2002–2006) at the University of California–Davis in response to a perceived need to improve management of faculty merit and promotion dossiers. This article focuses on the faculty advancement module (PacketOnline) of MIV. Additional applications for generating a personal curriculum vitae and NIH Biosketch are also briefly described.

The authors report their experience with a two-year pilot program for PacketOnline, including an evaluation of its functionality derived from a user survey. Tasks for dossier preparation were rated fairly equivalently to the conventional method. Initial data entry was reported to be tedious, and there were frustrations with unanticipated glitches, typical of new systems. The largest improvements and benefits were seen in electronic review of dossiers, which was considered to be more efficient and effective than the conventional paper method. The authors found all users to be generally supportive of the new electronic system. The authors conclude that an electronic database with applications for faculty merit and promotion review is a worthwhile tool, and they suggest using a multidisciplinary team of users to achieve buy-in. Additional enhancements and monitors of performance of the MIV system are ongoing.

Author Information

Dr. Howell is professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, University of California–Davis School of Medicine, Sacramento, California.

Mr. Poon is a programmer, UCD Center for Health and Technology, University of California–Davis School of Medicine, Sacramento, California.

Dr. Nesbitt is executive associate dean for administration and clinical outreach and professor of family and community medicine, University of California–Davis School of Medicine, Sacramento, California.

Dr. Anders is distinguished professor emeritus of psychiatry and behavioral science, University of California–Davis School of Medicine, Sacramento, California.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Howell, Professor of Pathology, University of California, Davis Medical Center, Department of Pathology, 4400 V Street, Sacramento, CA 95817; telephone: (916) 734-8370; e-mail: (lydia.howell@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu).

Article Outline

The merit and promotion process is one of the major ways to recognize and reward a faculty member's performance in academic medicine. The fact that promotion is frequently associated with tenure or security of employment, and that the decision often occurs within an “up or out” context, adds to the prestige and gravity of the accomplishment. Accordingly, many individuals and multiple levels of institutional review are usually involved in this process. To make a fully informed promotion decision, a complete record of a faculty member's accomplishments must be evaluated by various levels of authority. Though the criteria for promotion and the pathways of review may vary somewhat among schools and between academic tracks or series, all tend to require the same basic components: lists of publications, grants, and contracts; teaching activities and accomplishments; evidence of clinical excellence; letters from department chairs and external referees; and a candidate's statement. Copies of creative work and teaching evaluations are also usually included. List 1 lists the components required for a merit or promotion dossier at the University of California–Davis (UCD) as an example.1 The associate dean of academic affairs and the academic affairs staff frequently received feedback from faculty and departmental support staff that compiling the numerous disparate components to create these dossiers is tedious and time consuming for those involved. Circulating this large paper dossier is cumbersome. Easily locating and retrieving information of interest within the thick dossier is difficult for reviewers. Maintaining hard-copy dossiers during the review process and archiving them afterward is inconvenient for the office of academic affairs. Recreating these dossiers at subsequent reviews is also time consuming, particularly at a school like ours that requires frequent interim evaluations between the major promotion reviews. The University of California system requires merit reviews every two to three years for faculty members at all levels, and a positive review is associated with an increase in the faculty member's base pay. Repetitive preparation of faculty dossiers for these frequent reviews is, thus, a major administrative burden throughout the University of California system.

Our experience in the school of medicine is not unique. The burden noted by our faculty and staff was recognized by our parent campus as well, and it was a discussion topic at the annual chancellor's retreat in the fall of 2003. As a result, the vice provosts for academic personnel and information and educational technology appointed an oversight committee in January 2004 to review technology that would facilitate the campus academic review processes and decrease the associated workload. Nationally, many other schools of medicine have become interested in using electronic technologies to streamline and manage faculty dossiers used in the faculty evaluation and promotion process. This parallels the interests and efforts by their academic medical centers to implement electronic medical records to deal with the vast amounts of paper and the complexities of patient records. In May 2006, a posting on the Association of American Medical Colleges' Faculty Affairs listserve asked whether any schools were using electronic records for promotion reviews. Many schools responded by echoing that interest, but they had not yet used or developed such systems themselves. A handful of others indicated that they were using electronic methods of some form. Some schools simply created dossiers in the usual fashion using Microsoft Word documents, but circulated them for review via e-mail attachments or made them available on designated secure Web sites. Only a few respondents had more elaborate electronic systems.

The purpose of this article is to describe the development and implementation of MyInfoVault (MIV), a Web-based central data repository with a variety of integrated applications that generate a series of professional documents that can be circulated and archived. These documents include a dossier in the required format for faculty merit or promotion reviews, a curriculum vitae (CV) for personal use, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Biosketch form for grant submissions. In this article, we chiefly focus on the application that creates the merit/promotion dossier. MIV was initially developed by the UCD School of Medicine's Center for Health and Technology in collaboration with the associate dean and staff in the school of medicine's office of academic affairs and was later joined by development partners in the school of veterinary medicine and the college of biological sciences. On the basis of the success of the initial pilot in these schools, the UCD campus council for information technology has chosen to adopt MIV as the general campus information-management solution for the merit and promotions process for the faculty members in all of its schools and colleges. To our knowledge, there have been no published reports on the development of electronic faculty databases for the promotion and academic review process. We believe that our experience offers good advice and lessons learned to other schools seeking to develop similar systems.

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System Description

The UC Davis School of Medicine first began considering an electronic faculty database in 2002 when piloting our mission-based reporting (MBR) program. Our MBR program has been described previously.2–5 It is a Web-based program in which faculty members self-report their activities on an annual basis. We believed faculty members would be more likely to participate in MBR if the information collected could be saved in a data repository used for other purposes as well, such as preparation of their merit or promotion dossiers, or for grant submissions. Though MBR was ultimately discontinued after a pilot program in our school, the Web-based faculty data repository concept continued as MIV.

MIV is a suite of Web-based applications that provides faculty at UCD with a centralized, online storage repository of their professional activities. MIV has the ability to automatically generate various documents in flexible formats from previously stored information. MIV currently can produce a CV for personal use (CvOnline), a packet or portfolio for faculty merit or promotion reviews in the format required by the university (PacketOnline), and the NIH Biosketch form. Complete technical information about MIV and its development is available on the MIV home page.6

Each individual MIV page is constructed dynamically according to the user's profile. The system is written in Java, an industry de facto object-oriented Internet programming language. The major design concept of MIV is to use the central data repository with a variety of integrated applications to generate a series of professional reports and documents.

The MIV system uses a three-tier architecture, using a Web browser as the client software, a Java 2 Enterprise Edition application server for the middle tier, and a relational database for data storage. In addition, it uses database connection-pooling technology and native protocol JDBC drivers to improve its run-time performance. The original version was developed for the Windows platform using Macromedia Jrun as the application server, Microsoft IIS as the Web server, and Microsoft SQL 2000 as the database server. When the UCD general campus adopted MIV for campus-wide implementation in 2005, several changes were made, including using the Linux platform and Apache Tomcat as the application and Web server, and MySQL as the database server. Migration was technically effortless, because the MIV system is written in Java, an open, cross-platform language.

All final reports and documents are provided as portable document format (PDF) files, which are constructed dynamically from data in the database. We chose to use PDF files because PDF has the ability to produce a high-fidelity print format and, thus, constructs reports with a professional appearance. The MIV system uses the JavaMail application program interface for internal communication and electronic signature implementation. On the security side, the MIV system uses Kerberos authentication, session control, and 128-bit SSL data-encryption technology to guarantee access control, data security, message privacy, and message integrity.

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To ensure security, users must log in through a secure Web site. There are four distinct levels of MIV user, each of which has a different set of privileges. Privileges and functionality are cumulative with each level:

▪ Level 4: MIV user. This is a faculty member who has no administrative privileges. This user can only read and enter data in his or her own record.

▪ Level 3: Department Administrator. This user can create new level 4 users, process merit and promotion packets, and access faculty member records in his or her own department.

▪ Level 2: School/College Administrator. This user has all the privileges of the level 3 user. Additionally, he or she can create new level 3 users, and access faculty members in all departments in his or her own school or college.

▪ Level 1: MIV Administrator. This user has all the privileges of a level 2 user and can also create new level 2 users, add or edit departments, add or edit schools, change MIV group and page assignments, and access all faculty members in MIV.

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Data Entry

To enter data, a user must first log into the MIV system. Administrative assistants and others with access to multiple accounts are provided a faculty access list, which lists the faculty members for whom they can enter data. It is important to the faculty members that access to their accounts be highly secure. Therefore, the system was created so that each faculty member must personally designate those to whom they are willing to provide access, including their own department administrators. That is, a faculty member who wishes to opt out of the electronic merit/promotion process for privacy reasons may “lock” his or her account to all other users and continue to submit hard-copy paper packets. Such individual faculty security was deemed to be of high priority, to ensure faculty acceptance of MIV.

Once logged into one's account, the screen reveals a menu that includes a Data Collection header and an Enter Data link which takes the user to a new menu containing several broad sections, such as Personal Information, Employment, Education, Research, Clinical, Teaching, etc. (Figure 1). Subsections exist for each area. The Research section, for example, contains subsections for journal articles, book chapters, and grants. Additional sections and subsections can be created by the user. Add/Edit buttons next to each subsection take the user to similar templates for the data entry. As an example, Figure 2 illustrates the data-entry template for Research Publications (Journal Articles). Journal article references can be cut and pasted from Word documents into the designated section, can be typed in individually, or can be downloaded from PubMed. The URL to the publication can be added, so that printed copies of articles do not have to be added to merit or promotion packets. Sections for role of author and significance of research also appear. These designations are required for merit and promotion actions at UCD. A list of all entries appears at the bottom of the screen. A resequencing button allows the user to change the order of the entries.

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MIV Applications

After the data are entered and saved, they can be used in any of the three MIV applications: CvOnline, PacketOnline, or NIHForm. The applications are described in detail below. Because only some of the data elements entered are pertinent to each application, the faculty member has total flexibility to choose which elements to include in each application. These application-specific choices are then saved as templates for future use. Of course, these templates can be edited or modified as well.

The CvOnline application is used to create faculty CVs. The final CV that is generated from the data repository can also be formatted to the faculty member's specifications by designating font style and size, indentation or centering of text, or underlining or bolding of specific elements, among other choices. A default formatting also exists (Figure 3). The completed documents can be printed in HTML, PDF, or RTF formats, depending on the faculty member's needs. CVs prepared via CVOnline can be e-mailed to others or published on the Web through designated links.

The PacketOnline application, which is used to create dossiers for merit and promotion reviews, has been the most used application and is the focus of this report. Because the university sets the format and style characteristics for this application, individual users may not redesign this product as they are able to do with their CVs.

The NIHForm is formatted identically to the content and style characteristics of the biosketch required by the NIH for their grant submissions. Individual users may, therefore, not redesign this product. Users can preselect data elements from their MyInfoVault data repository to populate this form so that it is stored and ready to go for grant submissions with only minor updating. A user with more than one research theme may even choose to store more than one NIHForm tailored to his or her different interests. Once a user's general data repository is updated, it is easier to make subsequent updates to his or her NIHForm or to any of the other applications described above, because the new element can be added to each document through a single click in the application.

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Electronic Circulation and Review of PacketOnline Dossiers

When a department completes a dossier via PacketOnline for merit or promotion action, it is reviewed by the faculty member in question, who then gives the department permission to release it. The dossier is designated as final in the MIV system and sent electronically to a secure Web site accessed only by the school of medicine's office of academic affairs. An analyst from the office of academic affairs logs into the Web site to check the dossier for completeness and accuracy. If corrections are needed, the analyst returns the file electronically to the department. When the office of academic affairs analyst designates the packet as complete, he or she can forward it electronically to the next level of review: the faculty personnel committee (FPC) for merit actions, or the associate dean for academic affairs for promotion actions. Each of these next-level users accesses the Web site through his or her own unique password and checks the respective Packets for Review section for dossiers that the analyst had designated as ready for review. Paperless review of the dossier is facilitated by a table of contents listing each section (Figure 4). Clicking on the title of each section points to the contents, so that data are easily reviewed.

MIV and PacketOnline can accommodate the multiple reviewers involved in the merit and promotion decisions process. Each level of review adds additional data elements to PacketOnline, after receiving the packet electronically, and then forwards the packet electronically to the next level for continued review. For merit actions, the FPC adds a letter with its recommendation to approve or deny the merit advancement. The packet with this addition is then forwarded electronically to the associate dean for review and final decision. The associate dean's decision is documented in PacketOnline through the electronic addition of a dean's letter. The review process is completed when the associate dean adds his or her electronic signature, thus closing the file.

For promotion actions, the review sequence is slightly different and includes reviewers on the general campus, but the basic concept of forwarding the packet to different levels of reviewers with review decisions added electronically is the same as for the merit reviews. For example, a promotion packet, in contrast to a merit packet, is forwarded electronically by the academic affairs analyst directly to the associate dean, who makes a recommendation to approve or deny by means of a dean's letter entered directly into PacketOnline. The packet is then forwarded electronically to the office of the vice provost for academic personnel at the university level for the next step, which includes review by the campus-wide committee for academic personnel and may also include an ad hoc committee. These reviewers also add their letters of recommendation directly into PacketOnline, and the packet with all these additional letters ultimately is forwarded electronically to the vice provost of academic personnel for review, final decision, and electronic signature. Ultimately, all completed merit and promotion dossiers are archived electronically.

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Pilot Program

Implementation of the MIV system was piloted in the school of medicine for academic reviews during a two-year period. Frequent hands-on training sessions were held in a computer laboratory throughout the pilot period. Both faculty and staff were invited to attend the training sessions; however, faculty members were infrequent participants. In academic year 2004–2005, the pilot program was specifically confined to merit reviews, and promotions were excluded. The circulation and review process for merit actions is less complex and more suitable for piloting a new system, because merit actions are reviewed exclusively at the school level (FPC and the associate dean for academic affairs) and do not go to the parent campus for review and final decision. For the pilot review, the then-associate dean (LPH) required MIV packets for at least half of the faculty merit actions for that year, although electronic submission of packets was not required. After data entry, departments could print and send a paper copy of the packet to the dean's office for further processing and review.

In academic year 2005–2006, the goal was to use MIV for preparation, electronic submission, and review in all departments, and to finalize technical and functional enhancements to the MIV application before campus-wide deployment. The pilot and enhancements are more fully described on the MIV home page.6 In 2005, the school of medicine required preparation and electronic submission of all faculty merit actions and at least one faculty promotion action through MIV. Additionally, analysts and the associate dean in the office of academic affairs, and the FPC, were required to review submissions, add their comments online, and forward the packets to the next level electronically. Training classes were held several times per month in a computer classroom for hands-on training of department staff. As part of the pilot, analysts and the associate dean in the office of academic affairs and the FPC were required to review submissions, add their comments online, and forward the packets to the next level electronically.

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User Response to MIV

Over 2,000 individual faculty accounts have been created in MIV from 75 different departments across the UCD campus. These include all 25 departments in the school of medicine, in addition to departments in the school of veterinary medicine, college of agricultural and environmental sciences, college of biological sciences, college of letters and sciences, school of education, and college of engineering.

In the school of medicine in the 2005–2006 academic year, 175 faculty merit or promotion dossiers were created and submitted using MIV. Departments fulfilled the expectations of submitting all their merit dossiers through this system, and most exceeded the expectation of submitting at least one promotion dossier. Uniformly across the school, department academic assistants entered faculty data and created dossiers. Very few faculty members have entered data or maintained their own records.

In 2006, all 25 UCD School of Medicine departments were surveyed for feedback by the academic analysts responsible for their department's dossier preparation. Recipients were asked to rate certain aspects of their MIV experience on a seven-point scale where, in general, 1 = better than the paper system and 7 = worse than the paper system. Tables 1–4 list the survey questions and the average responses. Responses from 19 departments were received. Ten department assistants identified themselves as first-time users who had prepared 10 or fewer dossiers. Eleven department assistants identified themselves as experienced users who had prepared between 11 and 20 dossiers. The mean ratings for the majority of the questions associated with data-entry tasks (Table 1) were chiefly in the middle range (rating 3–5 on the seven-point scale) for both first-time and experienced users, indicating that the tasks and final product were judged to be fairly equivalent to the conventional method. Experienced users rated the quality of the completed document to be generally better in most categories than did first-time users (Table 2), perhaps because experienced users were also more experienced and familiar with conventional preparation of merit packets and could thus better appreciate the improvement associated with MIV. Notably, a wide range of responses were seen for all survey questions from both experienced and first-time users, indicating that some staff members considered the system to be difficult, whereas others found it to be a considerable improvement. Staff members will most likely not appreciate the full value of MIV until two to three years after implementation, when faculty members who submitted merit or promotion packets during the pilot once again have to submit packets for their next review. The MIV database should then allow easier updating with guaranteed correct formatting. Previously, packets were not saved or were lost because of turnover of administrative assistants, necessitating recreation from scratch. This was time consuming and annoying for both staff and faculty.

As is typical of implementation of new systems, frustration was noted during the learning phase. Comments from department users indicated that they found initial data entry, necessary to create the MIV record, to be time consuming and tedious, particularly for senior faculty members with many publications and accomplishments. There were also unanticipated bugs and glitches related to migration of the system to the campus server, and these also frustrated the users. Despite these growing pains, all participating departments were supportive. Department users commented that the consistency and standardization of format for both dossiers and CVs were positive benefits. Departments found it particularly advantageous to have dossier information saved in a central repository that only required updating for the next action. Departments also commented that they eagerly anticipated a truly paperless process for academic reviews in the near future.

Surveys were also completed by the associate dean for academic affairs and the FPC members (Table 3 and 4). Reviews of hard-copy dossiers prepared using MIV were viewed chiefly as equivalent to those prepared using conventional methods. The largest improvements and benefits related to the online capacity for review. FPC members commented that electronic reviews facilitated group discussion. Previously, only the primary and secondary reviewers had hard copies of the dossier, but with MIV, all members of the committee could simultaneously view dossiers via laptops during their meetings. The availability of the dossier online also made access to the packet more convenient for review at home or in distant offices by both FPC members and the associate dean. Large, bulky, paper dossiers no longer had to be transported. Locating sections of interest in the dossier was also considerably easier because of the electronic table of contents. Thus, both FPC members and the associate dean felt that they spent more efficient and effective time in review. The office of academic affairs found that managing dossiers was considerably easier, because fewer department preparation errors were identified, there was less paper for analysts to handle, and less physical space was required for storage in the office.

All users agreed that MIV was a favorable advance with much future promise, though all thought that additional functional enhancements were necessary, particularly regarding increasing the speed of the system. Departments reported that few faculty members have yet used the CvOnline or NIHForm products during this initial stage of merit and promotion implementation.

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Analysis and Lessons Learned

We have found that creating an electronic faculty database such as MIV has been a worthwhile effort for academic departments and for the school in general, particularly when it is used in the academic review process. Despite the considerable time and effort required for several years to develop such a system, the expected frustrations in the learning phase of bringing up a new system, and the time spent populating the new database, MIV is perceived quite favorably by all who are involved and is considered to be worth the investment of human and financial resources. All users anticipate significant long-term benefits that include less time and effort spent recreating packets for each subsequent review, increased convenience and ease in abstracting information for those reviewing the packets, and efficiencies in storage and retrieving completed academic records. The uniformity of the packet presentation, which includes improvement in formatting and consistency in including accomplishments and documentation, should also ensure easy readability by the reviewers—an important feature to reviewers who may review a hundred or more packets a year.

One of MIV's key virtues is its flexibility to accommodate scientific and academic products from multiple disciplines, making it applicable to a variety of schools and departments. For example, images of works of art can be uploaded to facilitate review. MIV's current ability to upload publications directly from PubMed illustrates the possibility of arranging similar uploads from other electronic libraries and databases. Other schools and colleges on our campus have also piloted MIV and have had a positive experience. The MIV system has been demonstrated to the leadership at other University of California campuses, and they have recognized its many advantages. This has lead to considerable interest in extending MIV beyond our own campus and across the 11-campus University of California system.

We encourage other schools to pursue the development of similar systems, because the benefits can be significant. Our experience provides several lessons learned, described below, which may benefit others in this task:

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Lesson 1

A multidisciplinary team is necessary to create and implement such a system and should include all major stakeholders to ensure success. The multidisciplinary team should include computer programmers and systems experts, faculty, and personnel from both the dean's office and departments who oversee and are intimately familiar with the academic review process and its requirements. We found that it was important in the development process to include users of all levels to achieve the necessary perspective and buy-in.

It was our hope that individual faculty members would become more familiar with MIV. Faculty members could be considered to be the primary stakeholders in the development of an electronic system for academic reviews, because their merit advancements and promotions are dependent on the presentation of their accomplishments through the packets created by the new system. We had hoped to motivate the active participation of faculty by using MIV as a personal tool to maintain their own CVs or to create biosketches for NIH grant applications. These personal documents were intended to be appealing features that would motivate individual faculty members to regularly update their own MIV data repositories, decreasing the burden on administrative staff. In general, however, faculty members have not expressed much interest in learning to use MIV and have preferred to have department staff maintain their databases for them. This is, in part, attributable to time constraints. Many faculty are not interested in taking time to learn a new system, given their heavy clinical loads, teaching obligations, and research commitments. Clinical faculty members have recently been required to learn the health system's new electronic medical record system. Requiring them to learn another new system is perceived as too much. In addition, success in the merit and promotion process is not dependent on presentation via MIV versus the conventional paper packet, so this is not a major motivator for faculty to use MIV themselves. Merit and promotion denials are infrequent in our school, usually averaging fewer than 10% of all submitted actions per year. This denial rate did not change during the pilot period, indicating that the merit and promotion results are not affected by the method of preparation. Before MIV, department staff invested considerable time and effort to correctly prepare each faculty member's packet so that it met the university's required format, ensuring that the faculty member's academic accomplishments were presented well in the review process. The real stakeholders in the success of MIV are, therefore, the department staff who bear the brunt of the administrative burden in preparing the packets. An electronic system such as MIV can introduce efficiencies and alleviate some of this heavy administrative burden, potentially giving department staff members more time to accomplish other tasks.

Interestingly, department staff are not enthusiastic about having faculty trained to use MIV, because they feel that the integrity of the database and product formatting will be better maintained and will have fewer errors if department staff are solely responsible for the database. Many of the younger generation of faculty members are more accustomed to using technology, however, and have expressed interest in learning to use MIV as a personal tool.

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Lesson 2

Key design features should include security, the ability to upload information from other databases, and the ability to make changes easily. Early in the development phase, faculty expressed concern about who would have access to their data. Individual security was therefore deemed to be of high priority, to ensure faculty acceptance. The system was therefore created so that a faculty member must designate the individuals to whom he or she allows access. A faculty member who wishes to opt out of the electronic merit/promotion process for privacy reasons may lock his or her account to all other users and continue to submit hard-copy paper packets. With time, the faculty members have become less concerned with access and security. This may be because they have gained trust in MIV, but also because most faculty members do not want to be bothered with maintaining their own records and preparing their own packets.

The ability to upload information from other databases is also a feature that is important to the success of this type of system. Populating the MIV database has been one of the most time-consuming and tedious aspects of implementation. Eliminating the necessity to individually enter all data elements speeds implementation and helps to maintain a positive outlook regarding the system. As an example, the ability to upload publications from PubMed was not a feature of the early versions of MIV, contributing to less-than-enthusiastic reactions from department staff, particularly when entering information about senior faculty members with long lists of publications and other accomplishments.

It is important that any system allow for easy changes and updates. Faculty members often provide incomplete or inaccurate data, which need to be corrected or updated. One of the most problematic aspects that we noted was the ability to resequence entries, such as publications. Resequencing in our initial system could only be done by moving an entry up or down one place on the list at a time. This was found to be too slow and was frustrating for data-entry staff, who would have preferred the ability to cut and paste or quickly skip to the correct place on the list.

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Lesson 3

Training must be frequent and ongoing. As mentioned earlier, hands-on training classes for MIV users were held in a computer classroom several times per month. Trainees were instructed to bring a packet to work on at the session. A staff expert was also available in the office of academic affairs to assist departments as needed. Application and performance questions could also be sent directly to the pilot administrative team via a specially designated e-mail link on the MIV home page. An MIV pilot program listserve was created and used for announcements and information regarding system problems and upgrades. The MIV home page also contained regularly updated information on enhancements, fixes, processes, and work in progress.6 We had hoped that training an individual in each department would result in a train-the-trainer-type situation, and that heavy reliance on central training would not be necessary. We noted, however, that there was frequent turnover in department staff, so trained individuals were usually not available for long within departments. This was chiefly attributable to the fact that entry-level staff members are usually assigned to the packet-preparation task, and these individuals tend to seek advancement opportunities quickly. Strong, ongoing training from a central office within the school or campus is therefore necessary.

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Lesson 4

Users should be rewarded and encouraged. Initial entry of faculty data is a large and time-consuming task, but it is necessary for implementing this type of program. Staff time to accomplish this may be scarce. To facilitate the kick-off of MIV and to motivate departmental participation, the UCD Health System generously provided funds to pay for either staff overtime or temporary staff for a limited time so that a large number of faculty members could be entered into the database. This offer was met with enthusiasm and was essential to implementing MIV. Support for the unanticipated bugs and glitches, which are inevitable in the development of any new system, is also very important. We provided users with many opportunities to suggest improvements and provide feedback. In addition to the pilot program listserve and home page e-mail link mentioned above, MIV issues are a regular discussion item at the monthly meeting of department assistants with the academic affairs manager and staff, ensuring that departments feel engaged and supported as members of the development team.

The pilot program within the school of medicine has been successful. As a result, MIV preparation and electronic submission is required as the standard preparation and review method for all school of medicine merit and promotion actions for the 2006–2007 academic year. MIV is expanding to more schools and colleges on the UCD general campus as well.

Use of MIV has led to opportunities for fine tuning system performance tasks and utilities, and we anticipate that this will continue as its use expands and as new bugs are discovered. Enhancements will continue to be developed. Some of the enhancements planned for the immediate future include electronic document archiving, the ability to upload scanned letters from external referees, improved sorting and resequencing abilities, consolidation of some screens, and reduction of font size and print space in some sections.6 Long-term enhancements include incorporation of electronic voting by department faculty for merit and promotion reviews, search capabilities, input of letters from external referees directly into the system, uploading electronic teaching evaluations, and the development of new applications, such as public relations profiles of individual faculty members, for use by the school's and medical center's public affairs campaigns. MIV's performance and its downstream effects will continue to be monitored by the school of medicine, the campus pilot-development team, and the users group. We encourage other schools in their efforts to develop similar electronic databases and systems, and we recommend that they consider similar models for design, piloting, and monitoring.

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The authors thank and acknowledge their partners in the UCD School of Veterinary Medicine and the College of Biological Sciences for their excellent contributions in the development of MIV, and the Campus Council for Information Technology for their support of MIV and their efforts in implementing MIV campus-wide.

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1 University of California, Davis, Office of the Vice Provost of Academic Personnel. Forms and checklists. Available at: (http://academicpersonnel.ucdavis.edu/forms/forms.cfm). Accessed March 22, 2007.
2 Howell LP, Hogarth M, Anders TF. Creating a mission-based reporting system for an academic health center. Acad Med. 2002;77:130–138.
3 Howell LP, Hogarth M, Anders TF. Implementing a mission-based reporting system at an academic health center: a method for mission enhancement. Acad Med. 2003;78:645–651.
4 Howell LP, Green R, Anders TF. A mission-based reporting system applied to an academic pathology department. Hum Pathol. 2003;34:437–443.
5 Anders TF, Hales R, Shahrokh N, Howell LP. Mission-based reporting in academic psychiatry. Acad Psychiatry. 2004;28:129–135.
6 MyInfoVault home page. Available at: (https://confluence.ucdavis.edu/confluence/display/MIVP/MyInfoVault+Home+Page). Accessed March 22, 2007.
© 2007 Association of American Medical Colleges