Search the Lounge


« Law School Dean Searches, 2009-10 Edition | Main | Wanted: Faculty Candidate Who Has Been Anointed To Teach Secured Transactions, Payment Systems, Bankruptcy, And Other Commercial Law Courses. Must Have High EQ. »

September 10, 2009


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Eric Fink

As someone soon to undergo the P&T process, I'd be interested in broadening the inquiry to seek thoughts about choosing potential reviewers (where, as at Elon, the candidate is invited to offer suggestions). I imagine there are some norms, and some cautionary tales, in this regard, that would be beneficial to be aware of.

Jacqueline Lipton

You raise an excellent point, Eric. The problem is that at the point in time when you're asked to weigh in on possible good reviewers (or reviewers who should be avoided), you're often not sufficiently well connected to know who those people are in your field(s). At my school, candidates usually get a chance to suggest names of potential referees as well as to name people they would prefer were not contacted, but none of this information is binding on the promotion and tenure committee. And generally no matter how thorough the list is of referees that candidates provide, the committee will generally ensure that at least some of the referees are people the candidate did not specifically recommend - although I would think that generally the committee would not seek references from someone the candidate specifically objected to. Anyway, my advice is to make one or two senior friends in your field - either at your school or elsewhere - and ask their advice as to whether there are people who either should be on the "go to" or the "avoid" list. Things to consider when asking for this advice are:

(a) how often the recommended reviewer actually agrees to do reviews for people - it's no point suggesting a great name of a person who is generally too busy to do reviews and does not often agree to do them; and,
(b) whether there is any scuttlebutt in the field that the person is known for torpedoing any candidates, all candidates, candidates of a particular race/gender/ideology etc - this shouldn't happen, but sometimes it does.

The best thing you can do on the tenure track to prepare for P&T is of course to get your work known by people who are likely to be your referees ie send drafts out to people in the field outside your school. If people are familiar with your work and have helped you with the drafting, they'll know who you are and may be more interested/invested. And this is all part of the scholarly process in any event. Also try to present at one or two workshoppy conferences if you can ie if they exist in your field. That way you get known and develop some mentors who can both help with advice as to who to use as referees and who might also potentially serve as referees themselves.

I posted in a bit more detail on this back in June if you're interested:

Jeff Yates


First, I think that your advice to Eric is very sound. The only thing that I might add is that you should try (to the degree you can influence this matter) to get the requests to letter writers out as soon as possible. At least in political science some people have an informal rule that they will do one or two tenure letters per year. Thus, there is kind of a race to get that person as a letter writer. This may not be as big of a deal in law.

Second, on peer review requests - that's a tough question and one that I've been wrestling with lately. If we consider our time as finite then we can only apportion that time - expenditures on one activity mean less on others. So, if you spend more time on peer review for journals, then that is less time spent on other, perhaps equally valid professional service efforts. For instance, I'm starting to wonder if my time allocated to reviewing manuscripts might be better spent helping out colleagues who ask me to look at early drafts. You can fill in the blank on other service aspects that might be getting bumped by peer review, but the bottom line is that we all labor under the rule of the 24 hour day. It may also be a matter of degree - I think that my highest peer review year saw me performing between 20-30 reviews, but I know people who regularly do 40+ reviews a year. Everyone has limits and I guess it's all about figuring out where to draw the line.

Jeff Yates

I just read over my comment and it sounds as though I regularly turn down colleagues who as me to look at early drafts of their manuscripts - I do not. I guess I meant that I might more proactively offer my review services - assuming that there would be a market ;-)

The comments to this entry are closed.


  • StatCounter
Blog powered by Typepad