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Professorial Appraisal Review System

Online appraisals were introduced for the non-clinical UCL professoriate in July 2009. Brief guidance notes on how to use the system can be found at either of the following links (word and pdf).

Having used the online appraisal review system UCL professors have advised that with some modifications it might be an appropriate tool for other academics and research staff and thereafter all other non-clincal staff.

Some Frequently Asked Questions and Frequently Made Points

During the roll out of the online Professorial Appraisal Review system (PAR) colleagues made quite a few useful suggestions and observations as well as posed some very pertinent questions, the responses are below.




What was the time line for the development of PAR?


Late 2007

Mandate from Senior Management Team.

Early 2008

Specification for system completed.

Mid 2008

First iteration of the system built.

Mid to Late 2008

First rounds of beta testing and reiterations of the system.

Jan 2009

Director of HR invited UCL heads to be involved in or suggest nominees for user acceptance testing.

March 2009

User acceptance testing ended.

April – May 2009

Changes made to the system.

May - July 2009

Faculty meetings to brief heads on the system.

July 2009

Version 1.0 of the online system released for general use by the UCL professoriate.


Why is there not a section for self assessment in the PAR form? Every appraisee should have an opportunity to reflect on how well they think they are doing. This should have been incorporated in Part A.

The format of the PAR system was developed with the full involvement of the Provost's Senior Management Team. The research, teaching, knowledge transfer, enabling and esteem sections of Part A each allow for free text summaries of progress and contributions during the review period.

The provision of a summary overview text box was considered unnecessary duplication but will be revisited.


Why are research assistant/postdoctoral research fellows not visible on PAR?

This was not a requirment when the system was specified. Requirements freeze for release 1.0 of the PAR software occurred during 2008. The system went live in mid 2009.

UCL does not at the moment store electronic details of research fellows against their supervisors.

To include research fellows would be a fundamentally new requirement which can only be dealt with following requirements analysis, some business process review, development, testing and thence a new release of PAR. Management of research fellows should be referenced in the research free text box if relevant.


The system shows all publications since the last appraisal review.

It is very important to note that exact publication dates will not always be known by either authors or their publishers. Professors are cautioned that the default date of the start of a year could be problematic as the appraisal review will be based on publications that fall within the period since the last review.

The publications database, OnCite, can be updated by individuals on a self-service basis whenever required.

A new publications database is scheduled to replace OnCite during 2010. Anything done in OnCite will be transferred to the new system and then made visible in PAR. It is best to make changes now rather than wait for the replacement. Information Services Division will alert colleagues when the changeover is due and they will manage the transfer of publications between systems.

Information on how to update publications can be found at

Any changes made in OnCite will be visible in PAR the next day.


At present Enabling seems subsidiary to Knowledge Transfer.

UCL needs to separate Knowledge Transfer and Enabling on to different tabs.

The advice from HoDs on why this is required is clear and will be implemented in the next full release of PAR.


Criteria for the professorial appraisal seems heavily influenced by the science departments. Consideration needs to be given to how the implementation of PAR could cement the movement to a science based model that severely disadvantages Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences professors.

PAR will not disadvantage staff in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

The PAR system serves as a template for recording academic appraisals. It is understood for example that some academic disciplines do not have the same ability to generate research grant income as others.

Professors within different faculties at UCL will be reviewed against the expectations of their own professional disciplines.


PAR should be extended to show supervision of MA theses (which can lead to DPhil or PhD applications).

This suggestion will be fed back to senior management team for consideration in the next release of PAR.


The previous appraisal's objectives are not visible in PAR in the first year of use.

This is due to previous appraisals being done on paper. In year 1 these need to be manually inserted. In future use of PAR the agreed objectives from the previous appraisal will flow through to the current appraisal record for comments .


The system can work but changes will be required for the future.

This is freely accepted and it is a move forward from using paper and having to collate information from different data sources.

As with any software, once used, suggestions will be made to enhance it and this will be managed through a change configuration board.


How long will the appraisal records be kept?

The plan is that appraisal records will be available to staff as long as they work at UCL.


How does this system relate to the Institutional Research Information System (IRIS) ?


At present the two are separate systems. Once PAR is in use by the professoriate, and IRIS is ready, the next priority will be to join PAR to the IRIS system so that senior academic colleagues only need to visit one online tool to access all of their information.


There is a parallel system for the NHS licensing and revalidation programme. It would seem that with not a lot of extra work PAR could be adapted for clinical academics.

This is being examined but would be a whole new project. It will be commenced if it is resourced by UCL.


It would be useful to take the development of PAR forward in partnership with the NHS. At least we could find a solution that works for UCL and our local Trust.

In order to do this we would need to overcome issues around the NHS firewall and also meet the GMC requirements. This might prove a sizeable piece of work. From an HR systems manager's point of view it would be quite an exciting project but we have a number of other developments to do before we could start developing this for clinicians.


Clinical academics could at least use PAR for preparing the academic aspect of their appraisal. Is there any technical block to clinical professors using it?

The system had was originally set up to only allow non-clinical professors to gain access but from16 July 2009 all UCL professors, both clinical and non-clinical can access PAR.

It is important to note that the system is currently built around the non-clinical professorial appraisal process and clinical professors access the PAR system of their own request knowing that it is not tailored for the clinical professoriate.


A box for 'Other Information of Relevance' could be incorporated into the PAR system.

This seems a good idea.

The format for the professorial appraisal is as prescribed by senior management team. Requirements freeze for release 1.0 of the PAR software occurred during 2008. The system went Live for use by professors in mid 2009. If PAR needs to be further augmented then changes will be incorporated into the next release.


4000 characters may be too few to fully express one's work.

During user acceptance testing it was agreed to increase the number of characters from 2000 to 4000. This is now deemed adequate.


It is important to note that the 2009 staff survey responses indicate that appraisal is perceived as somewhat backward looking. Emphasis needs to be placed on making appraisals futuristic.

This emphasis will be made in all future briefings.

The main discussion on future objectives and support to achieve future plans should take place at the appraisal meeting and recorded on Part B of the form.


Why do deans need to have the final sign off of professorial appraisals?

This is because the contribution noted in appraisals inform professorial salary reviews.


In the past paper based appraisals have been confidential between the appraiser and appraisee. Using PAR will make the appraisal a public document.

Who can see appraisal information once it is completed online?

The online appraisal is not a public document, it is set up to be accessible only to the appraisee, appraiser and the appraiser's line manager/s.

Access to PAR is restricted to professors, heads of departments (HODs) and deans. Appraisal details are kept secure and confidential so users will need their UCL user name and password to log in. Only the professor and their line management have access to an appraisal record. Once an appraisal is closed at any stage the previous stages cannot be altered.

PAR is stored on secure UCL servers which are managed by UCL systems staff who are responsible for maintenance, development and security.

The access principles described above are no different from any other UCL central staffing systems. The utmost of confidentiality is always observed at all times.


Forthcoming publications entered into OnCite are not visible in PAR. It is important to note that work on forthcoming publications should be taken into consideration at the appraisal review.

This seems a good idea, it was not in the original specification.

The format for the professorial appraisal is as prescribed by SMT. Requirements freeze for release 1.0 of the PAR software occurred during 2008. The system has been in use since mid 2009. If PAR needs to be further augmented then signed off changes will be incorporated into the next release.


PAR uses the term learning event, what is this and how does it differ from a training course?

Training courses are usually about systematic classroom type activities.

Learning events are any opportunities for learning that individuals may wish to record. As well as training these could include conferences or seminars and the like.

We have used the term learning event as it is all encompassing.

Each individual can view and update their records at


Why do research studentship grants not appear on PAR?

Currently the PAR system only takes information from the named Principal Investigator on the award from the funder for research projects only.   This suggestion will be fed back to senior management team for consideration in the next release of PAR.

My Appraisal Selection page gives the number of appraisals outstanding and includes in this number reviews which have been completed.

An appraisal is deemed signed off once Part C is done.

The final stage of the appraisal process is the generation of part C. This is addressed on page 13 of the quick start guide which can be found at .

Why don't closed professorial appraisals automatically update manager self service on MyView? PAR is a UCL developed tool and MyView is from an external supplier (NorthgateArinso). Now that online appraisal has proved to be successful at UCL resources will be put into automating the upload of closed appraisals from the online appraisal system to the HR/Payroll database.

Created: 17/2/2010

Last updated: 7/06/2010