In "Ruling Could Inhibit Peer Review Candor" [The Scientist, June 25, 1990, page 1], Julia King laments the recent Supreme Court ruling that letters by external reviewers are subject to the Freedom of Information Act. I applaud the Supreme Court for its decision. Secret letters written by unnamed people and the secret interpretations of those letters by administrators have no place in any tenure review process in the United States. That such letters would form the "backbone of all tenure review files" is repulsive and erroneous; such a system clearly violates the constitutional rights of the candidate.

It is important to note that not all universities place such high regard for formal external reviews in their tenure review process. At some institutions the most important components of the process are the jointly prepared observations and opinions of the department faculty members. After a department faculty has "lived"...

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