Ruling Could Inhibit Peer Review Candor

Reviewers will have to think twice, now that tenure evaluation letters can be used as evidence in bias cases Academic scientists who are denied tenure and then sue universities on the basis of discrimination will find little, if any, information to support their case in written evaluations submitted by their peers. In fact, tenure candidates and the universities considering them will now have difficulty even recruiting researchers to honestly evaluate colleagues' work. These, scientists and s

Julia King
Jun 24, 1990


Reviewers will have to think twice, now that tenure evaluation letters can be used as evidence in bias cases
Academic scientists who are denied tenure and then sue universities on the basis of discrimination will find little, if any, information to support their case in written evaluations submitted by their peers. In fact, tenure candidates and the universities considering them will now have difficulty even recruiting researchers to honestly evaluate colleagues' work.

These, scientists and school administrators say, are the two most likely effects of a controversial Supreme Court decision early this year that stripped universities of their privilege to hold confidential outside letters of recommendation - the backbone of all tenure review files. Now that such letters can be used as evidence by tribunals deciding discrimination cases, researchers will think twice about writing candidly, or even about writing at all, they say.

"People are going to be less likely...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?