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Julie Novkov
TENURE AND PROMOTION LETTERS -- a thread.
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Julie Novkov 27 Feb 19
Replying to @NovkovJulie
I'm currently on my R1 university's committee for tenure and promotion, which means I'm reading a lot of external letters written by scholars at other universities evaluating our folks. I have some suggestions.
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Julie Novkov 27 Feb 19
Replying to @NovkovJulie
External letters are crucial at the university level because they can give reviewers from other fields a better sense of where the candidate is in the field from an uninvested perspective. They help us see what the field norms/expectations are and where the candidate fits.
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Julie Novkov 27 Feb 19
Replying to @NovkovJulie
The best letters do several things. 1) Highlight the candidate's main contributions to the field. 2) Compare the candidate's record to similar career-stage individuals. 3) Evaluate impact/reputation/visibility. 4) Evaluate the candidate's research trajectory.
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Julie Novkov 27 Feb 19
Replying to @NovkovJulie
1 *Highlight contributions*: this should be substantive, not just a recitation of the CV. What are the main ideas that drive the candidate's scholarship? Where do they fit in the field?
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Julie Novkov 27 Feb 19
Replying to @NovkovJulie
2 *Compare the candidate*: what is expected of someone going up for tenure/promotion in your field? What kind of publication record? Are grants important/necessary/almost impossible to get?
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Julie Novkov 27 Feb 19
Replying to @NovkovJulie
Is there an expectation that a candidate will have worked with/supervised doctoral students? What level of disciplinary service is the norm? We can see what the candidate has done but not how that compares with your discipline's norms.
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Julie Novkov 27 Feb 19
Replying to @NovkovJulie
3 *Evaluate impact*: putting all of this together, how has the candidate's work been received? External signals like cites and book reviews are helpful, but what's most useful is your independent, substantive, professional evaluation.
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Julie Novkov 27 Feb 19
Replying to @NovkovJulie
We can see if something's been cited or positively reviewed. We aren't well situated to know that the candidate's just-published book/article is likely to change the way people think about the field in five, ten, or even twenty years.
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Julie Novkov 27 Feb 19
Replying to @NovkovJulie
4 Finally *evaluate research trajectory*: we can see what the candidate has done and what projects are in progress, but you're better situated to let us know how concrete and achievable these plans look to be. We want to know where this candidate is headed.
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Julie Novkov 27 Feb 19
Replying to @NovkovJulie
(Notice what is NOT on this list -- lengthily situate oneself in the field, reiterate candidate's CV, extensively discuss journal impact factors, h-indexes, i-indexes, eigenfactors, etc. without addressing the substance of the work.
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Julie Novkov 27 Feb 19
Replying to @NovkovJulie
We can read the CV and count the number of peer-reviewed pubs, and we have info on the journals and cite counts. We need your help in knowing what this information means for a candidate in your field at this candidate's career stage.)
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