News and Events
Volume 1 - Edition 8
January 2005
Academic Biography – The Database is Ready to Use

Faculty members are required to produce Curriculum Vitae (CV), annual reports and similar documents summarizing professional activities, often with similar information but in varying formats.  A partial list includes: Western specific annual performance reports, President's reports, OCGS CVs and accreditation reports, research reports for grant applications, teaching dossiers, personal web pages for graduate recruiting, etc. Replicating information in various formats is time-consuming and frustrating when faculty would rather be working on research or teaching students.  As well, having this information in different files, in different formats and updated at different times virtually guarantees that there could be errors and omissions in at least some of these reports.  

Administrators also have on-going requirements to produce reports for various reasons: short and long-term planning, meeting contractual obligations etc., summarizing the academic activities of their units. Indications are that this need for accurate accountability will likely increase (e.g., government reporting), however, compiling the data is often a tedious, manual process also prone to possible errors and delays in data submission. 

In the spring/summer of 2003, the Faculty of Engineering and the Department of Biochemistry partnered with the idea of creating an efficient and user-friendly “Academic Biography” database to store the information commonly needed for a CV, annual reports as required of faculty members at Western, and for administrative reporting on academic activities.  With the help of a talented student knowledgeable in SQL databases and in using PHP to access, we initiated the construction of a comprehensive database with the following goals: 

1 – providing the faculty members with a useful and user-friendly tool that will save them time and significant effort;

2 – equipping departmental and faculty administrators with a tool that allows the collection of up-to-date and accurate information; and

3 – implementing a design suitable for the unique UWO environment.

The “Academic Biography” database project is not fully complete, and it will continue to evolve. The front end (web interface) will require modifications in wording and needs more descriptive help information. However, at this time we have proof-of-principle outputs; a standard annual report, a standard web page, and the ability to customize some outputs are currently implemented.  The ability to output CV's in other formats requires only a few hours of time and an agreed upon format to implement.  

We believe that this “Academic Biography” database is useable now for annual reporting purposes of full-time faculty and could be used for generating standard, current web pages for all faculty.  While modifications will be required, we prefer to gather input from the faculty users and modify the database to work for this community.  As a result, we invite interested faculty members in Engineering to try out the Academic Biography database.  Furthermore, as we know data entry can be a time-consuming task, to help you initially populate the database with your information. we have hired two work bursary students from engineering.

Please contact Chantal Gloor if you wish to access the database.  Also, please indicate if you would like assistance with the data entry.

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Last Updated: 21/01/05