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Nice idea Robin. Happy to throw my name into the ring as my university values this type of service. 

I currently hold the role of Professor of Interaction Design. In American parlance, I would be considered the Dean of Design for my University. I lead Ngā Pae Māhutonga, a design school which holds a top 100 world QS ranking in Creative Arts and Design.  

Prior to my move to NZ, I was a Professor of Design at MassArt in the United States. I am comfortable assessing both candidates for promotion and tenure at free-standing art and design institutions and research-focused Universities. 

I am a NASAD evaluator, but have not done much service in this area now that I live overseas. 

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I've performed 30+ external reviews for tenure and promotion over the past two decades. I have a couple of ideas for how this process can be improved.

Requesting institutions should always send the reviewer the department's tenure and promotion guidelines, so that the reviewer has context for the review (requirements, norms, expectations, departmental and collegiate culture, etc.).

The faculty member (or chair, or dean, or whomever solicits the review) should try to find a strong fit between the candidate and the reviewer – type of institution, faculty rank, sub-disciplinary affinity, career accomplishments, scholarly emphasis, etc. 

If invited to review, requesting institutions and promotion candidates must recognize that the reviewer will bring their expertise, judgment and opinions to bear on the assessment – for better or worse it's part objective and part subjective. 

Finally, the requesting institutions should pay an honorarium to the reviewer. This is not a "pay for positive assessment" condition; it's an acknowledgement of the reviewer's time and effort spent doing service to another institution. Look at it this way from initial hire to tenure decision: search costs (flights, hotel, faculty time, etc.), start up costs to new hire (moving expenses, training, mentoring, research investment, equipment, furniture, etc.), pay and benefits over years until decision (5-6 years' worth of salary, health care, retirement) – this probably equals $500,000! Now does a $250 honorarium sound unreasonable? (In my experience, private universities are more likely to pay honoraria than public institutions.) 

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In the YSU Department of Art, we have decided to completely eliminate this requirement from tenure and promotion consideration.

While this benefits me, I was personally against the decision as I require objective feedback to improve myself.

Not having it has done me a great disservice throughout the entire tenure and promotion process this year. IMHO it has enabled my colleagues to take less stock in my work, accomplishments, and impact. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 2/27/2018 at 1:08 PM, Dan Wong said:

I like that idea! I wonder if there's a way we can do this, make it somewhat rigorous, update it, and make it relevant to subspecialties?

this is really an important issue in our departmental guidelines and I think across the university. communication design is so broad that you have to find reviewers who have appropriate experiences to review work otherwise this is doing a disservice to all involved. we had changed our guidelines to reflect this almost a decade ago and it has served us well. 

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On 3/7/2018 at 11:30 AM, RJ Thompson said:

In the YSU Department of Art, we have decided to completely eliminate this requirement from tenure and promotion consideration.

While this benefits me, I was personally against the decision as I require objective feedback to improve myself.

Not having it has done me a great disservice throughout the entire tenure and promotion process this year. IMHO it has enabled my colleagues to take less stock in my work, accomplishments, and impact. 

i'm curious as to the response to this at the university level. I know of some departments (only at private institutions) where this happens and in departments with such diverse disciplines faculty are not experts nor understand the nuances of all disciplines, so external letters are useful to contextualize work within the field. The concerns you voice are ones I would have for any colleague. 

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I'm doing some of my first external reviews this summer and am learning the do's and don'ts protocols regarding ethics and best practices as a reviewer. It would be great to have a resource/guidelines documented somewhere. Does anyone have a punchlist?

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The University is committed to the longstanding traditions of scholarship as well as evolving perspectives on scholarship. The University recognizes that the role of academia is not static and that methodologies, topics of interest, and boundaries within and between disciplines change over time. The University will continue to support scholars in all of these traditions, including faculty who choose to participate in publicly engaged scholarship. Publicly engaged scholarship may involve partnerships of University knowledge and resources with those of the public and private sectors to enrich scholarship, research, creative activity, and public knowledge; enhance curriculum, teaching, and learning; prepare educated, engaged citizens; strengthen democratic values and civic responsibility; address and help solve critical social problems; and contribute to the public good. 

One can contribute to these goals in many ways—individually through each of teaching, service, and scholarship or in an integrated form—all highly valued by the University. Such activity counts as scholarship, however, only when it makes a contribution to knowledge in specific field(s) or relevant disciplines. Such scholarship is to be evaluated with the same rigor and standards as all scholarship.

While I recognize you would not be able to address every area in your letter, I would particularly appreciate it if you could address such questions as:

  • What do you perceive to be the candidate’s major contributions to the field?

 
  • Where does the candidate stand in comparison with others who have the same length of time beyond the doctorate or terminal degree concerning the development and elaboration of a research agenda?

 
  • We would also appreciate any comments you may choose to make about the candidate’s service to the profession
  • Is the candidate’s professional record indicative of someone deserving tenure and promotion to the rank of Associate Professor?

 

If the answers to these questions are contradictory, please provide a sufficiently detailed explanation. The letter you write plays a significant role in the tenure process at the University. With that in mind, please be as thorough as possible and make specific reference to the candidate’s record when applicable.

 

In your letter, please also state the general nature of your relationship with the candidate.  If you do not know the candidate, or if your knowledge does not extend beyond casual conversations at conferences, please indicate so.  On the other hand, if you have personal knowledge of or have worked professionally with the candidate, please provide some context regarding your personal or professional contact.  Please also provide a copy of your curriculum vitae (or brief biographical sketch), or let us know where we can access it on the web.
 
Your letter of evaluation will be held in the strictest of confidence.  It is the practice of the University to protect the confidentiality of external evaluations in personnel decisions.  Disclosure to those not involved in the evaluative process will be made only to the extent required by law.  Candidates do not see or receive copies of external review letters, but may receive a written or oral summary including excerpts from letters, appropriately masked to avoid any indication of individual identities, institutional affiliations, or references to reviewers’ scholarly work.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I would appreciate such a list of external reviewer candidates! I will be going up in 2020 and will need 8, and I can suggest up to 4. I am prohibited from speaking with anyone directly about their willingness to review my case in particular. However, it would be helpful and fair to know who is out there--qualified and open to doing external reviews in the general sense. Thank you.

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