The College of Arts and Architecture

P&T Dossier Preparation Guidelines

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Suggestions from the Director and the P&T Committee, March 2012

General Suggestions

This information is designed to simplify your eventual dossier preparation. Although procedures do change occasionally, the goal of this document is to offer our best advice to help you create a thorough and persuasive dossier.

  1. Update regularly: Maintain and regularly update the materials that will become part of your annual review and promotion materials. In addition to the factual information that will become part of your dossier, maintain a file of supporting materials (concert programs, recordings, publications, conference proceedings, concert reviews, teaching materials, etc.). You’ll save time later by making this a regular part of your work load (and be sure to back up your documents). 
  2. Ask advice: Before compiling your dossier materials, read the School of Music P&T Guidelines, consult with the director, and seek advice from experienced colleagues. Members of the previous year’s School Committee can provide advice on current procedures, formatting and language. Don't hesitate to ask.
  3. Consult the Rainbow Sheets: Confirm that you are using the most current version of the dossier dividers. The order of information can change from year to year, and previously submitted materials might need to be adjusted. Also, as revisions to the dossier dividers may occur during the summer months, it is possible that changes can occur between the date that you start compiling your materials and the date that they are due in the Director's office.
  4. Page numbers: Do not include page numbers on the dossier materials that you submit to the director. The numbering of pages in your dossier will change with the inclusion of peer review letters, student comments etc. The director’s staff assistant will insert all page numbers prior to the beginning of the formal review process.
  5. Proofread carefully: Check and re-check your materials VERY carefully. Make sure that all spellings are correct (city, names, etc.) and grammar, order, and format are consistent. HR-23 indicates that preparation of the dossier is the director’s responsibility; however, each faculty member supplies relevant information for the dossier and reviews the dossier for accuracy and completeness.
  6. P&T Committee’s role: In the School of Music, the P&T Committee will also review your dossier carefully and will likely make suggestions. Incomplete or casually prepared materials do not reflect well on candidates nor on the School, so please give the Committee plenty of time to review materials thoroughly.
  7. Meet all deadlines: Submit a draft of your materials to the director on the stated deadline. This will allow ample opportunity for discussion and possible revision.
  8. Review and act on advice in previous reviews: Read and heed the guidance provided to you by the committees and administrators following EVERY review in the process. Areas of concern identified in the second- and fourth-year reviews WILL become a focus for subsequent reviewers. Make sure that these concerns are addressed in the dossier.
  9. Other helpful information: Sample dossiers are available for your viewing in the office. The University also publishes a pdf document titled Frequently Asked Questions About Promotion and Tenure that you may find useful.
  10. Your CV: Maintain and update your curriculum vita on a regular basis. Your CV is part of the material sent to external reviewers, but it is not used internally. There is no mandated format, but a standard CV would normally include your educational background, previous work history, awards that might not fall within the Penn State review period as well as a summary of creative work and research.
  11. SRTEs: Encourage your students to complete online SRTE evaluations and paper forms (applied faculty), letting them know about the importance of this feedback. This is a critical aspect of your dossier, and there is evidence that students are more inclined to take the time to complete SRTEs if the instructor appears to value student feedback. Also, see Section D3 in the School’s P&T Guidelines about other information that will be sought.

Writing the Narrative Statement

Use considerable care in the writing of your narrative statement. It is a VERY significant and important component of the review process.

Although it is permitted to split the narrative statement among the three review areas, we strongly recommend that you prepare a single statement to be included at the beginning of the dossier. Unless you have a good reason to do otherwise, use the basic order of the dossier (teaching, research/creative accomplishments/service) to organize your writing. You may also choose to insert headings to denote these specific sections.

The content of the narrative statement should explain and expand on your accomplishments, as well as provide context for the overall review. You may include an explanation regarding your completed work and also your goals for the future. You may also use the narrative statement to describe your background and previous experience in greater depth. See HR-23 for additional information.

Currently, the maximum length of the statement specified in HR-23 is three pages. Use an easily readable 12-point font with standard margins, and insert a space between paragraphs. The length is one reason to prepare a single statement, allowing you to give more weight to those areas that you view to be most important.

If an area of concern was identified in a previous review, include information in your narrative statement regarding what steps you have taken to address that concern and/or point to the supplementary materials where such documentation might be found. Use first-person in your writing to emphasize your enthusiasm, philosophies, and goals, etc., but avoid exaggeration or the appearance of arrogance.  

Remember your "audience" when writing your narrative statement. Only at the School of Music and external review levels will your materials be reviewed by musicians. So, your objective as a writer is to express your life's work to those who have limited knowledge or comprehension of what you really do. Ask a non-musician to review your statement and to provide you with feedback. Avoid jargon and avoid making assumptions about any possible reader's prior knowledge of your work. Each narrative statement you write during the review process should be written as if it is introducing you and your work to a stranger.

Since the external review materials are due in the summer and the final draft is due in early fall, it is possible to write a narrative statement with a more knowledgeable audience in mind and then make revisions for the internal review.

Seek editorial advice from School colleagues as well as School Committee members. Everyone is willing to help!

Chronology of Citations

All sections of the dossier should be in reverse chronological order (starting with the most recent entries and ending with the earliest entries).

The Teaching section should include citations only since your appointment at Penn State or since your last review. For reviews for promotion to full professor, if the time since the previous promotion is more than five years, the College has indicated that it is acceptable only to include teaching information from the last five years.

The Research/Creative Accomplishment section may include information in perpetuity – meaning that you can include information beyond the timeline of this review, including BEFORE your appointment at Penn State.

These citations should appear separately at the end of each category. Create a special heading (i.e., “Prior to Appointment at Penn State”) for the sake of clarity and keep your format consistent with previous sections. Include only the most important citations in this category since the primary focus of the review will be your productivity since the last review.

As with Teaching, Service should include citations ONLY since your appointment at Penn State or since your last review.  (Note: you may include prior information regarding Teaching or Service that you consider significant, i.e. teaching or service awards in the curriculum vita that is sent to the external referees, but not in the dossier.)

Categorizing Your Citations

Use the wording found in the bullet points from the rainbow sheets throughout your document. Bold the rainbow sheet categories, and then underline or number (not bold) your headings and sub-headings. Since peer reviewers and administrators will be reviewing many dossiers, consistent wording of the major categories helps reviewers find the information.

Create headings and sub-headings within each large section of the dossier to cite your accomplishments in an organized fashion. Particularly in Research/Creative Accomplishments, we suggest that you use GENRE as a broad category for the organization of your citations. Headings might include:  Performances; Recordings; Compositions; etc.  If using “performance” as a category, you might want to separate your citations into subheadings such as: Solo Recitals; Partial Recitals; Chamber Music; Concerti; Orchestral Performances; etc.

If there are 5 or more citations within each category, we suggest you use LOCATION as a further means of categorization and to highlight particularly important performances. For example, separate On-Campus and Off-Campus – with off-campus listed first. Off-campus citations could further be separated into subheadings such as: International; National; and Regional where appropriate.

Placing Your Citations

Some activities might fit in more than one category, so choose the category that seems most appropriate (knowing that not everything is black and white). In cases where an activity could be placed in one or more categories, choose the category where your dossier could use strengthening


 Remember that membership on graduate degree candidate and recital committees is Teaching, not Service.

If recruitment of students is a key part of your job description (part of the “Director’s Statement”), then you may list those specific activities under “Other Evidence of Teaching Effectiveness.”

The Director’s staff assistant will add SRTE summaries in a standard format, so you do not need to provide this data.

Research/Creative Accomplishments

Appearances as a conductor, when they reflect the primary focus of your faculty appointment, should be cited in Research/Creative Accomplishments. 

Appearances as a conductor of studio-based ensembles is normally cited in Teaching (Other Evidence) EXCEPT in cases where the magnitude of the performance warrants its placement in Research/Creative Accomplishments. 

Appearances as a conductor of off-campus community-based ensembles (church choirs, municipal bands etc.) should be listed in Service (Service to Society).

Masterclasses, clinics, and similar events are generally placed in Research/Creative Accomplishments (“Description of outreach where there was a significant use of the candidate’s expertise”) depending on the prestige of the appearance. Local masterclasses that are primarily related to recruitment, however, could appear in Teaching, while some events may seem to be Service (to Society).

Guest appearances on recitals or concerts may appear under a separate heading in Research/Creative Accomplishments or Service (Service to the School) depending on the quantity and magnitude of the repertoire performed. Make sure that these events appear under a separate heading from your full recitals/performances and that nothing is listed twice.

Note that your memberships in professional learned societies should be listed in Research/Creative Accomplishments, but offices held or committee work associated with these memberships should be listed in Service.

Remember that a description of new courses developed is included in Research/Creative Accomplishments, not in Teaching.


Honors Music Institute and summer music camp teaching should normally appear in Service except in circumstances where your contribution is significant enough to warrant placing it in Research/Creative Accomplishments (Description of Outreach).

Organizing a conference would normally be listed under Service but, in exceptional cases where the size, scope, or level of innovation of the event warrants, it may be included in Research/Creative Accomplishments (Evidence of impact in society of creative accomplishments). In this case, it is important to identify the impact of your contributions. Any performances or presentations done during that conference may be listed separately in Research/Creative Accomplishments. 

Formatting Your Citations

Use one of the standard bibliographic formats for citation of published materials, recordings etc. and remain consistent. Use of parallel sentence construction is encouraged.

In all other citations, use the following order:

  1. Event (full title) or role;
  2. Place (including city, state, and country if applicable);
  3. Exact date(s).

Example 1: Guest Recital, Harp Concerti of Brahms, Jones Recital Hall, Miami University, Oxford OH; March 3, 2009

(If you have numerous guest recitals, you could also use Guest Recitals as a heading, and just start the citation with the name of the event, or the location if the event was not named.)

Example 2: The Harp Concerti of Brahms, Pennsylvania Music Educators Association Annual In-service Conference, Pittsburgh PA; April 9, 2008

Write out all information and avoid abbreviations (except states) and acronyms to avoid confusion.

Write out all dates rather than using numbers and abbreviations (the correct form is: September 11, 2011).

Provide at least one space between each citation.

Provide at least two spaces prior to a new heading.

Center headings and left-justify sub-headings.

Provide a heading at the top of every page. If information in a previous heading continues to a new page, restate the heading and add “continued” (i.e. “Master Classes – continued”).

Use italics for names of compositions, recording titles, named presentations etc.

Annotate citations where appropriate. Brief descriptions of significant events (world premiers, innovative instructional programs) are helpful to the reviewers.  These annotations should be written in third person.

Adding Citations After Submission

Significant new achievements or accomplishments and factual changes that arise after your dossier materials have been submitted may be added to the dossier after the initial deadline, in consultation with the Director. 

Only significant new activities in Research/Creative Accomplishment should be added after the School Committee has made its recommendation since, when new materials are added, all previous review levels must be informed so that they can review their recommendation in light of the new information. Minor additions which are unlikely to make an impact on the recommendation are discouraged. Please see HR-23 for the most recent deadline for adding information to the dossier. Currently, that date is February 15. 

Duplication of Citations

Avoid including the same citation in more than one section of the dossier. List activities only once. 

Some events or activities might seem to be appropriate in more than one section. For example, your participation in a workshop might be in Research/Creative Accomplishments if you were an invited participant. OR, it could be in Service if you gave the workshop to a student or local organization. There are definitely gray areas, so use your best judgment, and don’t be surprised if the committee or Director suggests some changes.

If the descriptors on the rainbow sheets do not fit your activities exactly, or if the activity might be appropriate in more than one area, then select the category where you feel you may need to show additional activity.  

If one event/trip includes two or more activities, it IS permitted to separate them, as long as you cross-reference and annotate both (or all). For instance, if you are invited to do a masterclass with students followed by a formal concert that evening, you should list these under each of the two appropriate sub-headings, provided that you include an annotation in each citation that refers the reader to the other related event.  

Works in Progress or Upcoming

Works in progress may be included in 2- and 4-year reviews. Works in progress may not be included in the 6-year review unless it is work that is accepted, submitted, or under contract as per HR-23. It is permissible for upcoming events occurring during the review year (and beyond) to be included in 2-, 4-, and 6-year reviews. Use the same terminology as above.

If a guest conducting engagement or performance is occurring during the year of review, cite this as “under contract.” 

If a manuscript/recording has been accepted but is not yet published/distributed, please list this as “forthcoming” and include the approximate publication date.