External Review for Promotion and Tenure · 45
University of Illinois at Chicago
Knowledge of the candidate (e.g., having heard the candidate speak at conferences, or
being familiar with the candidate’s work) does not constitute a conflict of interest, and
indeed is evidence of the candidate’s visibility and impact.
Candidates may submit a list of referees who they believe are inappropriate, along
with the reasons for their proposed exclusion. Though such a list is not binding, the
executive officer making the final choice should take the proposed exclusions into
account. Candidates are, however, not allowed to submit to the department a list
of potential referees.
In view of the need for objectivity in evaluating a candidate’s work, deviations from the
guidelines on conflicts will not be permitted.
The solicitation of referees
It is recommended that this be done in two stages:
The first contact, which may be by e­mail, should inquire about the availability of the potential
referee and willingness to serve, and must ask specifically whether the referee has been an
advisor or collaborator with the candidate, or for any other reason might be seen as less than
impartial. More than 8 potential referees may need to be contacted until a pool of at least 5
willing, objective, referees is assembled. A list of all such contacts, with the responses (or
lack thereof) is to be included with the papers. Please see attached Sample A in Part III,
Section 7B.
The second contact is the official letter. Please see attached Sample B in Part III, Section 7B.
Information that should be sent to referees in the second letter: All external referees should be
sent copies of the candidate's updated curriculum vitae and a sample of recent publications (i.e.,
publications since the last personnel action) and work(s) in press. Where appropriate to the
discipline, URL’s for submissions to an electronic archive or online journal may be used instead
of physical copies of the papers, if this is acceptable to the referee.
Solicitation of Letters: The solicitation of letters of evaluation should come from the executive
officer or senior colleague who has been charged with preparing the documentation, never from
the candidate. It should be clear that the purpose of the letter is to obtain a candid assessment of
the candidate's scholarly accomplishments and standing in the field. Letters should indicate the
rank for which the candidate is being considered and whether or not the award of tenure is
involved. The tone of the letter should be neutral and should not indicate the desired outcome of
the process. Solicitation letters to referees should NOT include language to suggest that the
candidate can see the letters with the name and institution removed. Referees should be
strongly encouraged to provide a critical evaluation and not merely summarize the candidate’s
It is important to give adequate time for the referees to write their letters. Therefore, it is
suggested that requests should be sent out as early as possible (e.g. by the end of May) in the
year of consideration. All external evaluations of the nominee that were solicited by the
department for the review must be included in the candidate's file even if the reviewer’s letter is
a simple statement of inability/unwillingness to review. Your solicitation letter should include the
following (See Sample B, Part III, for full text):
In your letter would you please,
Note that you are evaluating the scholarship since the previous personnel action and not
necessarily the number of calendar years. This is especially important in cases being
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