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Julie emergency powers Novkov Feb 27
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 emergency powers Novkov Feb 27
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 emergency powers Novkov Feb 27
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 emergency powers Novkov Feb 27
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 emergency powers Novkov Feb 27
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 emergency powers Novkov Feb 27
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 emergency powers Novkov Feb 27
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 emergency powers Novkov Feb 27
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 emergency powers Novkov Feb 27
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 emergency powers Novkov Feb 27
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 emergency powers Novkov Feb 27
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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talia schaffer Feb 27
Replying to @NovkovJulie
This is so helpful! Would you consider posting it on our website as a resource for everyone?
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Lisa Kramer Feb 27
Replying to @NovkovJulie
I would add: Read the letter that requests the review. It contains essential pointers for reviewers! The toughest letter I had to deal with on a tenure committee was from a reviewer who wrote “I know your school’s requirements for tenure” and then didn’t address any of them.
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Rebecca Cheezum, PhD, MPH Feb 28
Replying to @NovkovJulie
If you receive an email requesting that you review someone, please respond even if the answer is "I can't at this time." I am being reviewed this year and the committee didn't get a response from many scholars they approached. It ended up really stressful for them and me!
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Julie emergency powers Novkov Feb 28
Replying to @rebeccacheezum
As a former department chair, I want to like this 5000 times.
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Julie emergency powers Novkov Feb 28
Replying to @LisaKramer
And pay attention to the monetary/time resources available to the candidate! I do not expect someone teaching a 3-3 with no research assistance and no pre-tenure leave to have published as much as someone teaching a 1-2 who's had both. Admins who expect this are stupid.
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Julie emergency powers Novkov Feb 28
Replying to @taliaschaffer1
Sure, and thank you for calling my attention to your terrific resource!
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Amanda Jansen Feb 28
Replying to @NovkovJulie
This sort of comparison is always the hardest part of such a letter to write because I believe that there are multiple models for what success could look like.
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Dr. Tara C. Smith Feb 28
Replying to @NovkovJulie
But be careful w/#2. We give all reviewers a copy of our college's handbook, b/c we want them to use criteria for us, which obviously won't be the same as others with lower teaching loads or more institutional support. Don't compare to your institution if they're not equivalent.
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