Academic Career Readiness Assessment (ACRA)

What is ACRA?

The Academic Career Readiness Assessment (ACRA) rubric is a tool developed by the Office of Career and Professional Development (OCPD) at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) with a grant from Burroughs Wellcome Fund. The goal of this tool is to provide graduate students and postdoctoral scholars with the information they need to explore, plan for and apply to faculty positions at different types of institutions, regardless of their understanding of the intricacies of the U.S. education system and independently of the mentoring they receive. The rubric can also be used to inform faculty hiring practices and provide transparency in the faculty hiring process.

    How can I use ACRA as a student or trainee?

    The ACRA framework can be used to:

    1. Explore faculty careers: The ACRA can be used as a tool to develop informational interview questions when exploring careers in academia. Learn how to use ACRA in our video series Exploring Faculty Careers.
    2. Prepare for faculty careers: The ACRA can be used to define specific professional development goals, the first step to planning one's training. See our table of Evidence-Based Training Goals for Faculty Positions and the OCPD programs that support them. These goals can then be used to develop an Individual Development Plan (IDP). For a great online resource co-developed by our office, visit the myIDP website.
    3. Apply to faculty careers: The ACRA tool can be used to develop and tailor materials to different types of institutions. For samples of faculty application materials corresponding to the ACRA framework, visit our corresponding resources page.

    How can I use ACRA as a faculty member?

    As a faculty member, you may find the ACRA useful when:

    1. Developing an Individual Development Plan (IDP) with your mentees. The ACRA provides clear training goals for future faculty interested in diverse faculty careers. See our table of Evidence-Based Training Goals for Faculty Positions and the OCPD programs that support them.
    2. Hiring new faculty. The ACRA can be used as a rubric for evaluating faculty candidates.
    3. Developing new workshops for trainees. Our office has used ACRA to develop workshops to help trainees explore faculty careers and prepare their application materials.

    If you are a faculty member interested in using ACRA, let us know. Email Laurence Clement at [email protected].

    How was ACRA developed?

    The ACRA rubric is the result of a study which involved interviewing seventeen biology and biochemistry faculty across the country who have experience participating in the hiring of new tenure-track faculty in their field. It aims to describe the qualifications (such as publications, teaching experience, or commitment to diversity) that contribute significantly to hiring decisions for life science faculty positions at three broad categories of institutions: research-intensive institutions with limited teaching requirements (R1 institutions, referred to as R institutions in this study), institutions with both research and teaching requirements (including Primarily Undergraduate Institutions (PUIs) and Liberal Arts Colleges (LACs), referred to as RT institutions in this study), and teaching-only institutions (such as Community Colleges, referred to as T institutions here). The tool also defines the minimum hiring level for each qualification and for each type of institution.

    More details: Clement, Laurence, Jennie B. Dorman, and Richard McGee. 2020. “The Academic Career Readiness Assessment: Clarifying Hiring and Training Expectations for Future Biomedical Life Sciences Faculty.” CBE Life Sciences Education 19 (2): ar22.

    Contribute to our project

    1. We are currently conducting a large-scale faculty study to further validate ACRA and to identify the predictors to hiring decisions. By sending this survey out to faculty you know, you can help us improve the validity of ACRA: http://bit.ly/ACRAfaculty
    2. Using ACRA with trainees? Let us know - we are studying how ACRA can be used as an assessment tool for trainees when it comes to their readiness for positions, and the barriers they face to preparing for these positions. 

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