EVCP Expresso – June 2018

June 1, 2018

Dear Colleagues:

I mean it when I say, “You are my colleagues regardless of where you work within our organization,” and this is a particular shout out to our staff, who are the unsung heroes who enable us all to do our work. I was pleased to see that the focus of the April 26 Chancellor’s Leadership Panel on Diversity was on staff this year, but disappointed by the data showing that we still have an employment disparity. Numbers of underrepresented populations may have increased, but not in managerial and leadership roles. This is a call to all PIs and supervisors to encourage and support professional development by providing release time for staff to attend Staff Resource Day on June 12.

Inclusive and equitable opportunities for professional development and advancement are important to everyone across the board whether staff or faculty. In this issue, you’ll learn about search and recruitment efforts towards this goal as well as developments within the publishing realm that could affect academic career advancement. (NB: open access is a complicated topic, so it’s an exception to my commitment to keeping stories “brief.”) Topics are:

I also send my best wishes and congratulations to our graduating students…and my loudest “Go vote!” to everyone.

Do you have a story that you’d like me to tell in a future Expresso? Please write to me at [email protected].




Clear and Transparent: Shining a light on the recruitment and promotion process

We strive to make UCSF a place where all people are valued. But various climate surveys show a stacked deck for women and underrepresented populations related to their pursuit of advancement into leadership positions such as department chairs. This is not a perception. The data show this is a reality. We must work hard to make sure that that everyone has equal access to opportunities, and that the processes are transparent and fair.

Brian Alldredge, vice provost for academic affairs, echoes that goal. “We need more women in leadership positions, especially in the basic sciences…. Opportunities for women in leadership are not what they should be. It pervades the clinical departments as well.” So, we need to do a much better job of reaching the constituencies we want to both recruit and promote within the university.

There are several efforts well underway to improve the transparency and equity in the search process. Specifically these include:

  • Since academic year 2015-16, all faculty and academic leadership search plans must first be reviewed by the Office of Diversity and Outreach. In 2017 we added the faculty equity advisor to facilitate these evaluations and provide education and training to search committees. Vice Chancellor of Diversity and Outreach Renée Navarro says the advisors represent important checks and balances to ensure that searches provide opportunities to a broad array of people. The equity advisors have completed months of training and serve as local resources towards optimal search practices within their schools.
  • All faculty searches now require that each applicant provide a statement on the candidate’s contributions to diversity. The search committees are provided with a rubric on how to evaluate those contributions. See more.
  • The School of Medicine is constantly recruiting – it hires around 200 new faculty per year, according to Associate Dean Elena Fuentes-Afflick. Although its ranks of women and minorities have grown, the school now requires half its search committee members to come from those groups. “We know from the business literature that having diversity in group processes enhances the outcomes,” Elena says. “We believe in the principle.”
  • Other schools, which have smaller populations to draw from, require 25 percent women or minority representation on their search committees (except in Nursing, where men are the minority population).
  • It is important to understand the consequences of the “minority tax.” Women and those from underrepresented groups serve on many committees, often taking up a disproportionate amount of time and potentially interfering with their ability to shine in other measures. Steps towards addressing this are to give their service the full value it deserves as well as include it when assessing them as candidates for leadership positions. An effective tool is the collection of tip sheets developed by the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on the Status of Women. Primarily created to ensure UCSF is inclusive for women, they have wide application to other constituencies.

We also continue to train people and groups, particularly those serving on search committees, about the dangers of unconscious bias. The Committee on Academic Promotions has participated in unconscious bias training during its annual retreat to enable recognition of how bias can interfere with the promotions process. Vice Chancellor Navarro challenges search committees to structure the academic recruitment process to “minimize the impact of unconscious bias.” Strategies include having committee members who are aware of their own bias, developing objective criteria, knowing that information conveyed in letters of recommendation often contains bias, and structuring the interview process so that each candidate feels welcomed and cared for.

Operationally, the UC system adopted AP Recruit in 2011 to bring uniformity to the search process and help consistently generate the data that allows us to assess the success (or failure) of our recruitment and promotion programs. Vice Chancellor Navarro has ideas of ways we could further improve these efforts. A big one would be to follow the lead of UC Berkeley and require search committees to complete the post search survey in AP Recruit, indicating all steps taken towards ensuring an inclusive search. That will bring valuable data on what works and what needs improvement.

Catherine Waters, associate dean for academic affairs in the School of Nursing, notes that the Academic Affairs web page clearly explains procedures and best practices for conducting academic searches. She encourages departments to advertise positions broadly, perhaps with minority affinity groups, to ensure a diverse applicant pool. In addition, the Office of Diversity and Outreach’s website includes many great tools and resources to enhance diversity within the faculty.

Renée is encouraged by the progress UCSF has made. Since 2010, we’ve doubled the number of Hispanic faculty, nearly doubled the number of African American faculty, seen the percentage of women faculty rise from 37 percent to nearly half, and seen the chancellor’s cabinet become more inclusive, with 33 percent women and 18 percent under-represented minorities. We do, however, have challenges. The representation of women in leadership has not kept pace with our overall recruitment. We must review these processes and implement strategies that facilitate full equity and inclusion.

As President Barack Obama once said, “If you’re walking down the right path and you’re willing to keep walking, eventually you’ll make progress.” Let’s keep up the pace.

back to top


Open Access: Publishing, tenure…and you

The digital age has disrupted the publishing industry, and scientific publications are in no way immune to this shift. Due in part to the ever-increasing, unsustainable costs inherent in the traditional publishing market, business models have rapidly evolved for the journals that we depend on. Many of us are confused about what’s happening and the implications for our professional advancement.

Fortunately, University Librarian Chris Shaffer is keeping close tabs on the new developments. He says, “A lot of things are happening that are influencing promotion and tenure, muddled with questions about economics and what is peer review. What are the roles of researchers in an age of team science and the Internet?”

As recently as a decade ago, almost all scholarly journals were subscription-based and followed a traditional, blind peer review model – but open access (OA) has changed that. Increasingly more scholarship is published in online, OA journals – which make their articles free to read by all immediately when published, with broad rights for reuse. Many new business models exist, with some journals charging by the article (referred to as hybrid OA), and some making their content widely available for free. OA journals have also brought about innovations to publishing such as open peer review, article level metrics, and text and data mining.

While many new OA journals, such as those published by PLOS and BioMed Central, have gained recognition for high quality and prestige, other publishers have capitalized on the movement, following questionable business practices such as not conducting proper peer review. But we should not assume all OA journals are not peer-reviewed, or discredit a colleague for work published in a newer journal. Chris explains, “Open access is a business model for publishing and is totally separate from the peer review process…Journals from many prominent publishers and societies have gone open access…The message is, open access needs to be evaluated for quality when you’re assessing tenure and hiring, just like you’d do with closed access.” Check out the Library’s tips for evaluating publishers.

Institutions, particularly in Europe, have been leading the effort to create a payment model that is more sustainable. Universities in France, Germany, Sweden, and the Netherlands have not renewed contracts with a few major academic publishers, due to impasses over the publishers’ charges for both subscription access and open access to institutional authors’ publications.

Back at home, the University of California Libraries are embarking on a type of “offsetting” agreement with selected publishers for their subscription journals that also offer a per-article, fee-based OA option. In this hybrid approach, open access to an article is normally paid by for by the author(s) from their grant or discretionary funds. UC’s agreement would subsidize these article processing charges (APCs) and cover those authors without grant funds. The end result? The maximum number of UC-authored articles could be published as OA. Read more about UC’s efforts.

APCs represent one OA model, but not all journals and disciplines are amenable to APCs. There are many other OA business models that UC already supports and will continue to explore.

There is considerable development around publishing platforms and models that would substantially lower publishing costs and shift rights and ownership to scholars. One of these solutions is institution as publisher. UC, for instance, could publish all of its scientists’ work on journals hosted by eScholarship.

“Nobody’s quite sure what the future approach will look like,” Chris says. Would a UC scientist no longer publish in Nature, but only on a UC website? How would that affect promotion and tenure decisions, which now weigh the prestige of publications? New metrics may emerge as best practice, such as how often an article is cited, versus simply looking at a journal’s impact factor. The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) is a scholar-led initiative that aims to change and improve how research is assessed.

Another trend that affects advancement: funding agencies are increasingly asking scientists to publish more information. Investigators may even be asked to publish raw data before their work is complete, allowing other researchers to use it to offer input on a study in progress, verify a study’s conclusions, or speed the release of information to the public. This system has worked in fields like agriculture and astronomy. However, in clinical research, someone might get a false sense of hope before the data are conclusive – say, about the benefit of a new therapy. Chris says the concept is good and should be explored further, but there is another issue to be addressed: “What does it mean if you publish a ‘preprint,’ and it gets…cited by thousands of researchers, but it’s not yet published? Does that count in an assessment for tenure?” The NIH encourages investigators to use interim research products such as preprints, so the tide is already turning.

No matter which models become dominant, the tenure and promotion process will need to evolve along with the publishing industry. For more information on scholarly publishing developments like these, see our UCSF Library’s Publishing & Open Access website. Team members from the library have office hours and make house calls, too! Just ask an expert to visit your department or lab to shed more light on these complex topics.

back to top


Picking Your Brain: Got survey fatigue?

When was the last time someone asked for your opinion – just yesterday? “Call for comment,” “please take our survey,” and “input needed,” are increasingly common email subjects! In the past few weeks, I know there have been quite a few surveys that affect large populations within the UCSF community, whether faculty, staff, students – or all.

While at least two have been sent over my own signature, I know that others have landed in your inbox recently. The consequence of these one-off requests to pick your brain is yet another message to triage, another micro-decision to make. Often there is a promise that “it will take only a few minutes to complete,” but those minutes and decisions add up. I get it.

The five broad-reaching surveys or calls-for-comment that I’m aware of are:

So, rather than send reminders, I’ve arranged for them to be open until June 7 (except the last two – comments are due June 15 and June 22 respectively). And I’m asking you now to please consider completing at least one – maybe all. As a researcher, you know how important it is to get good data, so I hope you will share your insight – and not grumble about your colleagues’ request.

Also on the horizon are questionnaires, surveys, calls for comment about related efforts towards the future of Parnassus. These are being conducted in a coordinated fashion, but if it doesn’t make sense, just let me know.

What’s the solution to survey fatigue? Maybe a shot of espresso and some fresh air – I’m not sure and am very interested in hearing your thoughts about the best approach. Until then, I’ll do my best to stem the tide going forward.

back to top


Dan’s Tip of the Month

I recently watched the documentary RBG, capturing the life journey and career highlights of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It’s got a little of everything…history, romance, humor, inspiration, opera, and a bit of rap. She has changed our lives and continues to have an impact, from systematically fighting for women’s rights to her dissenting opinions as a Supreme Court Justice. While some may disagree with her viewpoints, she is widely respected on both sides of the political aisle. Fun and insightful – a couple of hours well spent!

back to top