Is it a standard practice for tenure and promotion committee to ask for referee reports of some published papers of the one evaluated?

  • 2
    Right to what? There are no laws keeping journal article referee reports private or anonymous. This is only done by convention.
    – Bill Barth
    Feb 22 '15 at 15:06
  • 1
    I have never heard of it. Is this a hypothetical question, or is this happening to you? If the latter, maybe you should clarify the country and whether the committee asks this of everyone going up for tenure or just some people.
    – Kimball
    Feb 22 '15 at 15:13
  • Does this not violate confidentiality?
    – user
    Feb 22 '15 at 15:15
  • 1
    Maybe it does, but there's no law giving that confidentiality. Also, maybe it doesn't. Single-blind reviews are anonymous to allow reviewers to speak their minds without fear of reprisal. Double-blind reviews are blind to fight bias among reviewers based on the authors' identities. Revealing the contents of reports after the fact, especially for accepted articles doesn't affect either of these issues.
    – Bill Barth
    Feb 22 '15 at 15:18
  • 2
    Sometimes reviewers' reports are even published by the journal.
    – Bill Barth
    Feb 22 '15 at 15:23

My university (a private R1) does ask for referee/reader reports in the case of newly published material in tenure and promotion cases. This is done when the scholar has recently published material that has not been cited elsewhere (thus, no bibliometric citation data) and the committee wants to ascertain the contribution to the field of study that the text may make.

Assuming your publication was accepted, you should view this as a good thing. Referee reports in those circumstances are positive, highlighting the contribution you are making to the field (otherwise, why would the journal publish it?). Folks on tenure and promotion committees also know to read through the negative cruft on reader's reports, so don't worry about that issue either.

p.s. I should note that at my university (as well as others), there is pushback against the use of pure bibliometric data (impact factors) as a way to ascertain a scholar's prominence in the field, but that is another question.


Review reports as in your title: yes. Asking an outside expert in the field for comments about the published work of the candidate. This is standard practice in some places and in some fields.

Referee reports as in the question: I have not heard of that. Except maybe in the case of a paper that has been accepted but not yet published: the referee report or editor's letter may be used as evidence of the acceptance.


I can't think of a committee expecting candidates to preserve the referee reports of previously published papers. I delete the referee reports from my mail box as soon as a paper is published.

They can ask, however, the acceptance letters of the papers listed in your CV as accepted for publication but not yet actually published. In case you don't provide the acceptance letters, the committee might not (or will not, depending on the country, institution etc.) consider those publications in the evaluation process.

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