How to write a peer review letter

Detailed feedback about statistics in a critical review Michael McCarthy says:

How to write a peer review letter

Most tenure candidates never see a tenure-review letter before they apply for tenure, so some of their trepidation reflects fear of the unknown.

Professors at least in my peer group rarely discuss how to write these letters or what makes a letter more or less useful. No one taught me or gave me any guidance on how to write such a letter, nor have I gotten any meaningful feedback from tenure committees about how my letters helped, or could have been more helpful to, their evaluation.

As academics, we are trained to gather and evaluate information carefully and follow sound scientific procedures. Yet, ironically, when making tenure decisions -- decisions that have significant long-term economic, professional and communitywide consequences -- institutions rely upon the letters even though the production of such information is undertheorized and probably did not follow rigorous scientific practices.

Norms and practices across academic disciplines vary widely as to how to write a useful and academically rigorous tenure-review letter. But I hope some personal perspectives might help both novices and veterans in the process.

With that in mind, here are my top 10 suggestions for writing such letters: Some of the more common perspectives: Presumptively say yes, subject only to lack of substantive expertise, intractable scheduling constraints or concerns about undue bias toward the candidate.

Some professors take this approach but impose a cap on the total number of reviews they will do in a year to manage the overall time consumed by letter writing.

Say yes only when the letter will be positive. There are several reasons why professors adopt this approach: Because of this, writing a negative letter might feel like a waste of time. Some professors adopt this stance because the author does not derive any personal benefits from writing tenure-review letters or does not feel comfortable contributing to a system filled with implicit biases.

How to Write a Peer Review Report (with Pictures) - wikiHow

I have adopted the first approach -- i. You will earn good karma and contribute to the social good by doing this community service. Finally, institutions may keep tallies on how many potential reviewers decline and their reasons for declining, so saying no could implicitly hurt the candidate.

I hope you will think carefully before concluding that you will write only positive letters.

how to write a peer review letter

The tenure system becomes imperiled if professors routinely adopt this approach. If we cannot provide honest negative peer assessments, Legislatures and other stakeholders cannot entrust us with the power to make tenure decisions.

Instead, because we are given such a high degree of academic freedom, every professor should say what needs to be said in a fair and impartial way. However, when I re-reviewed the applicable tenure standards, it was clear that the candidate had produced exactly the kind of works specified in the tenure standards.

Remember When You Were Young Typically, tenure candidates are still comparatively junior, which means their professorial skills are still developing even as they are applying for tenure. As a reader of tenure-review letters, I prioritize these overview assessments. Offer Constructive Feedback No tenure candidate is flawless; even the strongest candidates can improve.

First, the honest critiques enhance the credibility of the compliments. Second, if the tenure-review process works properly, the tenure committee will aggregate and share the constructive feedback with the candidate.

That should give candidates candid and valuable insights into how their peers view their work. Tenure committees will focus on any negative remarks to determine how significant they are.

A possible rule of thumb: At minimum, tenure-review letters are definitely not the place to air dirty laundry or unsubstantiated rumors. Sometimes, the tenure committee will summarize the letters for the candidate or provide redacted versions.

But given the limited pool of likely reviewers and the possibility that the candidate nominated you as a reviewerit is hard to give useful feedback to the candidate without providing enough details that might help identify the author.

Lawsuits over tenure denials are rare, and lawsuits against tenure-review letter authors are rarer still. Send Your Letter on Time It takes a lot of time and energy for a tenure committee to assemble a fair and complete tenure file for the candidate.

To the extent your letter contains serious negative feedback that might surprise the committee, delivering the letter as early as possible gives the committee more time to do any investigations and proceed in a manner that is fairest to the tenure candidate. Dropping a bomb on the tenure committee last minute will add avoidable drama and pressure to an already stressful process.

Few people enjoy writing tenure-review letters, but the effort is a vital service to higher education.

how to write a peer review letter

On behalf of tenure committee chairs and the entire academic community, let me say thanks for your thoughtful and diligent responses to requests to write them. I hope these suggestions help you through the process. A more extensive version of this article is available at http:Along with performing good peer-review, academic rebuttals tend to be things that get left out of traditional graduate school and post-doc training.

Being able to read public academic rebuttal letters is an immensely valuable resource for this reason. Peer review of a review article Gustavo Gutierrez Gonzalez says: Hydbring and Badalian-Very summarize in this review, the current status in the potential .

Many professors frequently write tenure-review letters, but as a Views vary widely about when a professor should agree to write a tenure-review letter. Some of the more common perspectives: a loose correlation with the work’s merit. Similarly, I have heard enough troubling peer-review placement stories to believe that peer review does.

BASICS. In general, students find peer letters extremely helpful to the development of their essays. In order for the peer review process to work it’s best, it is essential that you treat your peer’s work as seriously as you’d treat your own. Apr 13,  · Writing a peer review.

Your review, combined with the editor's own assessment of the paper, will serve as the basis for the publishing decision. Author: Kevin D.

Peer Review Examples - FResearch

Haggerty. So your friend/sibling/classmate wants you to write her a peer recommendation. Being the awesome friend/sibling/classmate that you are, you've not only agreed to write the letter, but you plan to write the BEST recommendation letter of all time.

Advice on how to write effective tenure-review letters