External Review for Promotion and Tenure · 21
Survey Questions and Responses
The SPEC survey on External Review for Promotion and Tenure was designed by Tracy Bicknell-Holmes,
Chair, Research and Instructional Services, and Kay Logan-Peters, Chair, Access and Branch Services, at
the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. These results are based on data submitted by 77 of the 123 ARL mem-
ber libraries (63%) by the deadline of March 15, 2006. The survey’s introductory text and questions are
reproduced below, followed by the response data and selected comments from the respondents.
According to data collected in 2000, librarians at 41 of the 111 reporting academic ARL member libraries (37%) are in tenure
track positions; librarians are eligible for a comparable continuing appointment at another 23 academic libraries (21%). In addi-
tion, data collected as part of the ARL annual salary survey shows that all but eight academic libraries have a multi-tier ranking
system for librarians. This is a clear indication that there is an evaluation process in place for librarian promotion and tenure
or other continuing appointment at most ARL libraries. When a librarian becomes eligible for promotion to the next rank or
for permanent appointment, some institutions require external reviews of the candidate by peers at another institution. These
reviews become an important part of the evaluation of a librarian’s potential for ongoing contributions to the position and the
A quick literature search reveals that little has been written about the external review process for librarians. The authors of this
survey have performed a number of external reviews and have experienced a wide variety of procedures and policies from the
requesting libraries. For example, the contents of candidates’ portfolios have varied greatly. Some have contained only publica-
tions. Others have included a wide variety of material demonstrating work in service and job performance. One included the
performance evaluations of the candidate. Some portfolios included the institutions’ standards; others did not. The instructions
to the reviewers have also varied. Some institutions instructed the reviewer to evaluate the quality of the candidate’s work based
on the included standards. Some asked the reviewer to evaluate the candidate 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 exchange for the review.
This survey is designed to identify the policies and procedures that ARL member libraries are using in the external review pro-
cess for candidates 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
candidates’ portfolios; and the criteria for evaluating candidates’ portfolios, among other questions.