Guidelines for Selection of Reviewers

Revision 3, October 2016, revised October 2017, edited for clarity/current language August 2023

Guidelines for Selection of External and Internal Reviewers for Library Tenure Cases

Please read Provost Communication #9 for overview of reviewer selection process at:

In accordance with Provost Communication #9, Library candidates for promotion and tenure and their Division’s advisory committee are required to supply two separate lists of external and internal reviewers for final consideration by the Library Executive Committee.

The Division will finalize its nomination list of five external reviewers and three internal reviewers after having received the candidate’s lists.  Divisions are asked to avoid duplication or overlap with the candidate’s lists.  Candidates are not privy to final Division lists submitted to the Executive Committee.  Upon receipt of the lists, the Executive Committee selects more reviewers from the Division’s list than from the candidate’s list. 

The following guidelines outline key considerations, specific to library faculty cases, for the selection of external and internal reviewers.

External Reviewers

The candidate must select five external reviewers. These reviewers comment on the quality and significance of the candidate’s scholarship as evidenced in his/her publications and service.  They do not comment on the candidate’s librarianship or personal attributes.  The following are general guidelines to assist with the selection process; the overall qualifications of each individual reviewer should be evaluated through a balanced consideration of each of these criteria:

  • Expertise in candidate’s area of scholarship and publications.  Select colleagues who have a national reputation and strong publication record in the candidate’s area of study.  The reviewer should be able to write effectively about the candidate’s work and its scholarly impact on the field.
  • Familiarity with tenure process.  Select colleagues who are familiar with the tenure review process and aware of the critical importance of and the expectations for their letter of support.  The reviewer should know how to write a tenure reference letter and how it will be used in the review process.
  • Faculty status and rank.  Select colleagues who have faculty status at their institutions.  Preferably, colleagues should be of senior rank (full professor or equivalent).  For associate professor review cases, choose colleagues who, at minimum, hold the title of associate professor.  Full professor review cases require reviewers who, at minimum, hold full professor status.  A senior librarian/archivist working at a prestigious institution (example: Library of Congress) without faculty status may be nominated if the nominee has held senior faculty rank at another institution or if he/she has been awarded a rank at his/her institution that is truly equivalent to senior faculty rank at the University of Illinois.   The candidate must justify his/her selection in the reviewer biography by citing evidence that the reviewer has an excellent scholarship record in the candidate’s area of study.
  • Peer Institution.  Select colleagues from peer institutions when possible.  Definitions of peer institutions vary widely, and there is no comprehensive list for libraries.  Candidates can consider (but should not be limited by) the following suggestions: the Association of Academic Universities list of member research institutions and the member institutions in the Big Ten Academic Alliance (  Candidates can also select colleagues who are from non-peer institutions or from non-academic institutions of recognized importance and quality if they have appropriate and substantial credentials–expertise, reputation and publication record.  However, the candidate must provide sufficient justification for his/her choice in the reviewer biography.
  • Neutrality.  Do not select close colleagues, collaborators or co-authors, former professors and/or mentors.  The reviewer’s objectivity is crucial to the review.  Candidates may select colleagues from the candidate’s Alma Mater as long as the colleague is not a former professor of the candidate or is not closely associated with the candidate’s research as to create appearances of a conflict of interest.

External Reviewer Template


Internal Reviewers

Tenure-track candidates must identify three internal reviewers from the University of Illinois to critique and comment on the impact of the candidate’s librarianship as part of the final tenure review process.  The following considerations should guide the candidate’s selections.

  • Faculty status.  Select colleagues who are tenured faculty members of senior rank.  For positions with responsibility to engage academic units outside of the Library, candidates should include among their recommendations tenured faculty in relevant campus units. For positions which have limited interactions with tenured faculty outside of the Library (for example, those without liaison responsibilities to a specific academic department), Library faculty will often be the best choice for reviewers. 
  • Non-faculty exceptions.  In certain cases, administrators with whom the candidate works closely may be appropriate reviewers.  Please consult with the chairs of the Promotion and Tenure Advisory Committee regarding selection of non-faculty administrators.
  • Neutrality.  Do not select colleagues from the candidate’s Peer Review Committee, mentors, mentees, collaborators or co-authors, personal friends, or former advisors and professors.  Objectivity is crucial to the review process.