Home / Academic Personnel / Personnel Processes / General Guidelines for the Solicitation of External Review Letters

General Guidelines for the Solicitation of External Review Letters

Required for promotion, tenure, and continuing appointment reviews

  1. External letters are part of the evaluation of research, publication, and creative activity;
  2. The chair/director and dean proposes reviewers, and the candidate proposes reviewers. Generally we seek a total of 10 responses from external reviewers because we want to ensure at least 5 strong letters are in the file. Reviewers ultimately solicited will represent both lists equally. All reviews received will be included in the candidate’s file. If a unit receives an external reviewer’s letter after the file has gone forward and prior to December 1 each year, have the unit’s personnel committee review it and make a brief, written commentary as to whether this new information changes their original recommendation, sign off on the commentary, and forward it to the director/chair to make the same review and commentary;
  3. Evaluations are solicited by the unit chair/director or by the dean from persons of high reputation in the candidate’s field; (see ACD 506-04 for more information.)
  4. The reviewer is asked for a statement regarding his or her acquaintance with the applicant;
  5. In order to give the reviewer an opportunity to develop a quality response, the reviewer shall be given at least 45 days to respond; a longer time period for response is strongly recommended;
  6. Letters written by ASU students, staff members, or colleagues cannot substitute for external evaluations of the research accomplishments of faculty members; these letters should be included as supplemental materials. Although letters may be requested from within the campus for academic professionals, it is strongly urged external reviews be solicited whenever feasible and relevant given the candidate’s professional contributions;
  7. The University Promotion and Tenure Review Committee or the University Promotion and Continuing Appointment Review Committee (UPCARC) will not accept letters, either positive or negative, that have not come through a unit's established review procedures;
  8. ASU policy dictates that each level of review is independent and recommendations regarding the performance of each candidate are given by faculty reviewers and by administrators.
  9. External letters of evaluation are solicited on a confidential basis. Neither the names of the reviewers nor the contents of the letters are to be shared with the applicant for tenure or promotion. Only officially appointed or elected review committees or other faculty groups specified by unit bylaws and administrators in the review hierarchy examine the letters. The greatest care is to be taken to insure confidentiality of external letters of evaluation. Letters should be kept in a central location and viewed only there. Solicitation letters to external reviewers should include a statement which describes who will have access to the letters of review and the extent to which confidentiality can be assured;
  10. All original external evaluation letters received must be included with the file. If possible, academic unit chairs/directors and deans should explain any troublesome or confusing statement made by an external reviewer in their internal evaluation letter;
  11. Please submit a Record of Outside Letters grid for each case. This is a list of all external evaluators sent letters requesting an evaluation (see "Sample Documents" at https://provost.asu.edu/academic-personnel/personnel-processes/academic-personnel-forms). If a letter has not been received, note this on the grid. Include detailed information about each reviewer’s qualifications, stature in the field, and familiarity with the candidate’s scholarship and/or creative activities. If reviewers are not from peer/aspirational peer institutions or are not full professors, explain why they were selected. Include identifying information about the reviewers only on this grid/form.
  12. Please submit the curriculum vitae of each external reviewer.
  13. Please submit a copy of the letter used to request the reviews. A template of the preferred request letter can be found at: https://provost.asu.edu/academic-personnel/personnel-processes under "Sample Documents". Academic unit chairs/directors may contact potential reviewers prior to the formal solicitation to identify those potential reviewers most likely to respond. Additional reviewers may be contacted in an attempt to secure a sufficient number of external evaluations so that quality and impact of the candidate’s work and his/her standing in the field can be assessed. Of the 10 external reviewers, typically there should be five or more external evaluators who are professors in highly respected colleges/universities (e.g., peer or aspirational peer institutions). These reviewers may not have a close professional or personal connection with the candidate (e.g., co-author, co-PI, or member of the candidate’s dissertation committee).