Graduate Schools Discuss Form Routing & Review

  • June 28, 2023
Our panelists
  • Kevin Breaux, Awards & Assistantship Coordinator, Graduate School, Louisiana State University. Kevin uses InfoReady to host the competitions for three fellowships, graduate school tuition award, distinguished dissertation award, as well as for assistantship additional compensations, evaluations, and probation petitions.
  • Jessica Coyle, Executive Assistant, Dean's Office, Graduate School University of Rhode Island. Jessica uses InfoReady for four annual fellowship competitions and scholarships. There’s also have a small grant they manage for graduate students in research groups for individual or a group projects, as well as collect applicants for assistantship job opportunities at the graduate school.
  • Beth Dutridge-Corp, Graduate Education Program Manager, Office of the Dean, College of LSA, University of Michigan. Beth uses InfoReady for two primary reasons: for graduate student who apply to teach 300-400 level courses as an Instructor of Record and for a recruitment event called Preview Weekend for prospective incoming graduate students to certain LSA programs.
  • Carol Wicks, Associate Dean, Geology & Geophysics, Louisiana State University. Carol uses InfoReady to run a myriad of one-time competitions for the provost as well as travel grants. She regularly looks for ways convert paper forms into digital processes with InfoReady.
Four graduate school administrators were part of a panel discussion webinar to discuss how they use InfoReady to manage fellowships, awards, and other application processes along with a few tips.
This post is the second of two compiled from this webinar. In this article, panelists share how they set up competitions for routing, which led to a discussion about their practices in managing reviewers for various programs and competitive processes.
When you are working with dozens of disciplines and different faculty, how do you manage your reviewers?
Jessica (URI): For us, we have a rubric that's posted on InfoReady. It is also in the notification to the reviewers so they know the rubric that they should be following. We have a ranking system, 1 through 10, that they select based on the rubric that helps guide the discussion. There's also an option in the review form to write in any comments. They can share comments to the applicant or to the administrator, which is our us in the dean's office, which provides some flexibility there.
We compare the rankings and then revisit if there's a big gap. We go back to the reviewers to discuss their rankings. Sometimes they change their score because they weren’t clear, or something just didn't make sense to them.
Carol (LSU): I would say we do very similar processing with our reviewers. There's a rubric, 1 through 10. They can send comments to the applicant or send comments to the administrator [using InfoReady], which is really helpful. And then the “Resend the notification” button to let them know “you are lagging on your reviews” is really a useful button.
Beth (UMich): Sometimes it's hard because you feel like you are tracking down reviewers, especially for one application we have. The nice thing is we can set a deadline which they have to review by, but you can go in and change it if they don't meet that deadline as well.
The proxy upload [of reviews] has really been helpful. Before using InfoReady, I used another third-party application software elsewhere on campus which was a little trickier to use to do proxy uploads and approvals. I would say in InfoReady it is much easier to do that, especially when faculty who would prefer just to do a lazy approval of saying, “I approve this, I've reviewed it.
Reviewers do get a digest email to them that tells them all the reviews that they have to do. If they're not just a reviewer for one application, but maybe multiple competitions, whether in their department or here in the dean's office, they know specifically which ones they have to do and which ones are outstanding. We've heard feedback that that has been really helpful for them.
Kevin (LSU): I have a couple of different scenarios. I’ll give you some examples.
An application gets submitted with the incorrect email address for the reviewer, so the reviewer never gets the email. Then it's not until a certain point in time when we realize there's a problem [other applications are farther along in the process]. We figure out that the email address is the issue, we can go into the form, change it then hit the send button to send it to the correct reviewer.
We also have situations sometimes for our awards committee where I get a particular professor that says, “Hey, there's no way that I can do this many reviews in this amount of time”. Well, we have the power to take that reviewer out and reassign it to other people, which is a great part of the system also.
One of the things I like about the [InfoReady] system also is that you can go in and periodically check to see if you have somebody that's lagging behind in their reviews. If so, you can actually hit a button and just resend that notification back out to them.
We have our system set up to automatically notify reviewers on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings. But in between those times, if somebody calls and says, “Hey, I’ve misplaced the email”, we can hit a button to send it to them again. The beauty is that we can go in to check and actually see the progress of a particular application or competition. If we need to make a phone call or send an email to speed up the progress of the review, we can.
Do you ever manage committee reviews with InfoReady? If so, how do you do it?
Beth (UMich): That's a really great question. For our external application, we do have a committee. Multiple people who review the application to determine, not just eligibility of the applicant for the program, but also the strength of the applicant because there are limited spots.
We also incorporate a rating and take an aggregate of what those ratings are to look at an average rating. We ask them to also include comments so that we can discuss those who might be rated lower by one committee member but rated higher by another. We can then reach out to the committee to reevaluate or re-look at the application before making a decision.
You can share the committee scores so they can see members' comments and their ratings as well too. This allows them to see what their colleagues are thinking, so that you might not have to pull everyone together for a meeting.
The ability to have both the ratings and comments is very helpful in making decisions.
Carol: I think we do something very similar. Sometimes we'll have an award pool for a fellowship, and we'll end up with a tie. At that point, we send it to the chair, or maybe the vice chair of our graduate council who serves as reviewer tiebreaker.
We like the ability to add a reviewer, along with the ranking, the average in the high score and the low score, and the comments, which are all very useful in a tie.
Panelists agreed that managing reviewers can be a challenge, but using InfoReady takes much of the manual tracking and reminding off their task lists. The flexibility to set up routing processes and review structures to meet their varying needs also makes InfoReady a great tool for graduate schools.
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