12 · SPEC Kit 293
based on the reviewer’s institutional standards.
Others asked whether the candidate would receive
tenure at the reviewer’s institution. Occasionally,
the reviewers were offered compensation in ex-
change for the review.
This survey was designed to identify the poli-
cies and procedures that ARL member libraries
are using in the external review process for can-
didates who are eligible for promotion, tenure, or
continuing appointment. It examines how external
reviewers are identified and asked to participate
in the review process, what instructions are given
to reviewers, what materials are included in can-
didates’ portfolios, and the criteria for evaluating
candidates’ portfolios, among other questions.
The survey was distributed to the 123 ARL member
libraries in February 2006. Seventy-seven libraries
(63%) responded to the survey. Librarians at 35 of
the responding institutions have faculty status.
Forty-four institutions offer tenure or other perma-
nent appointments (32 with faculty status and 12
without). Slightly more than half of the respondents
(39 or 51%) do not require external reviews for li-
brarians who are candidates for promotion, tenure,
or continuing appointment. While the majority of
these have neither faculty status nor permanent
appointments (27 or 69%), they also include six
whose librarians have faculty status and 11 that of-
fer tenure or other permanent appointments (five
with faculty status and six without).
Of the 38 respondents that do require external
reviews, 36 require them for candidates seeking
promotion to the next level, 27 require them for
tenure candidates, and seven require them for con-
tinuous appointment candidates. Not surprisingly,
most of these respondents have faculty status and/
or offer tenure or other permanent appointment.
Librarians at 29 institutions have faculty status and
28 of these require external reviews for promotion
candidates. Twenty-seven of these also offer tenure
and all require external reviews for tenure candi-
dates. Eight of the nine institutions where librar-
ians do not have faculty status require external
reviews for promotion candidates. Six of the nine
offer permanent appointments and five of them re-
quire external reviews for those candidates.
Review of Terminology
Thirty of the responding institutions that re-
quire external review (79%) provided promotion
and tenure criteria and procedural documents.
Findings from a review of this documentation are
included here and in the survey data analysis that
follows. A large majority of the procedural docu-
ments distinguish reviewers outside an institution
from those within the institution with terminology
such as “external reviewer,” “outside referee,” and
“external referee” and call their reviews “external
evaluations,” “outside review letters,” or “letters of
evaluation.” A third specifically contrast these ex-
ternal letters from “solicited letters of support”—
letters solicited by the candidate—and internal
documents or letters written by supervisors or co-
authors/collaborators of the candidate. A few use
“references,” “referees,” “external reviewers,” and
“evaluation letters” interchangeably and solicit
reviews both from writers familiar with the candi-
date or internal to the university and external writ-
ers unfamiliar with or unknown to the candidate.
Others refer to “letters of reference” or “references”
when discussing procedures that clearly describe
external reviews.
Purpose of External Reviews
A few documents include a clear statement of the
purpose of external reviews, such as to provide an
“independent, unbiased evaluation of the candi-
date’s scholarly attainment.” One document states
that, “The function of outside reviewers is to pro-
vide independent assessments of the candidate’s
work and professional standing.”
In some cases, the purpose of the review can
be gleaned from the instructions to the external
reviewers—to “provide evaluative information,”
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