4.4.12 External Reviewers

1.      The purpose of obtaining letters from external reviewers is to assess the quality of the candidate’s work in their field. To accomplish this purpose, departments should select external reviewers who are outstanding scholars in the candidate’s field. The selection of reviewers should not preclude outstanding scholars from outside of the United States or not from Ph.D. granting institutions or departments. When justified, non-academic reviewers may be included. The quality and appropriateness of the reviewer should be the central concern in the selection of reviewers.

2.      Procedure for choosing external reviewers.

A.    Solicited external evaluations serve as a major indicator of an individual’s impact on the profession and are always required for promotion. Although the number required may vary by rank and department or division, and may be defined by the College, every dossier must include external reviews solicited by the departmental committee and written by highly qualified individuals with established reputations in the candidate’s field.

B.     Solicitation of reviewers must be fully documented by the department, and must be done with a standard letter that is the same for all potential reviewers for a given candidate. Details required in the solicitation letter are described in Section D below.

C.     The solicitation of reviewers must follow these guidelines:

1.      A candidate will submit a list of potential reviewers, some of whom will be approached for recommendations. The department committee will suggest additional reviewers. External evaluators with personal relationships to the candidate (e.g. former advisors, mentors, coauthors, and collaborators) should not be selected without sufficient justification. Professional acquaintance (e.g., through professional meetings or seminar visits) does not normally represent a conflict. Many external evaluators also serve as book or journal editors, and familiarity with the work of the candidate in an editorial capacity does not normally represent a conflict; nor does serving on the same panel at a conference.

2.      The total list of names must be greater than the total number of letters required to be solicited. Although the candidate must be informed of all potential reviewers and have an opportunity to comment on them, it is the department committee, and not the candidate, that makes the final selection. The final list of names will not be given to the candidate so as to preserve confidentiality of the reviewers. The department committee is not required to seek approval of the list of names through a higher administrative office.

3.      As a minimum requirement, external evaluators should hold at least the academic rank for which the candidate is being considered. If a letter from a non-academic external evaluator is included, the departmental committee must provide justification for choosing that reviewer.

4.      Candidates must not contact potential reviewers about the promotion process at any time.

5.      Letters of evaluation will be confidential and external reviewers will not be mentioned by name or affiliation in any recommendations or evaluations. Reviewers may be referred to only by number.

6.      The electronic dossier of external evaluations must include the letter requesting the evaluation, the evaluations as received from the reviewers, and curriculum vitae or biographical statements describing the reviewers’ credentials.

7.      If a candidate has collaborative works, it must be clear to the external evaluator what the candidate’s contributions were to the finished work. The candidate must clearly indicate on his or her curriculum vita the share of any collaborative work attributed to the candidate’s own efforts. Reviewers must be able to determine whether an individual can execute scholarship in his or her own right.

8.      External teaching evaluations, if solicited, should attest to the candidate’s pedagogical competence, knowledge of the subject matter, organization and preparation, ability to stimulate intellectual curiosity and discussion in students, innovative capacity, and such.

9.      External service evaluations will be required for those faculty, whose primary contracted area of responsibility is service. For faculty, the external evaluations can be performed locally, but should be external to the academic unit.

10.  Members of the department must not contact external reviewers with the intention of influencing the content of their reviews. Communication with external reviewers should be exclusively handled by the P&T Committee chair.

D.    Letters soliciting reviewers must contain the following information:

1.      The letter must be accompanied by a copy of the departmental Promotion and Tenure document.

2.      The letter must include clear directions to the evaluator to analyze and critically evaluate the candidate’s work and accomplishments during the review period in the context of the Departmental Promotion and Tenure document and the candidate’s assigned workload over the period under review. Reviewers should also be requested to comment on the candidate’s potential for future development.

3.      Evaluators must be asked to define their relationship with the candidate in the letters they write, and to affirm that they can offer an impartial opinion.

4.      Evaluators must be asked to provide their curriculum vita or a detailed biographical statement in addition to the evaluation letter.

5.      When a candidate has used the extended probationary period under the University’s “Stop-the-Clock” policy, reviewers should be made aware of this so that they do not judge the candidate by a different standard. Therefore, a statement should be included in the letter to the referees clarifying the extra year(s) with the following language: “Stop-the-Clock is a UD policy that ‘stops the tenure clock’ for one year for reasons such as the birth or adoption of a child (up to two times) or for family illness. In these cases, the candidate is to be evaluated on the basis of the standard probationary period.”