T&P FAQs Section 3: File Preparation

3.1. Can members of the File Preparation Committee also serve on the Adjudicating Committee?

The Procedures specify that two of the File Preparation Committee (FPC) members will normally be from the Adjudicating Committee (AC). [Section F.3.1.1.(a)] Since the FPC does not make recommendations, but assembles a file which fairly and accurately reflects the candidate’s academic career, FPC members may be members of the Adjudicating Committee and will normally vote on tenure and/or promotion applications.

3.2 Joint Appointments

3.2.1. How should units deal with files of jointly appointed candidates?

Files of jointly appointed faculty members are prepared by the home unit. The procedures for consideration of files of jointly appointed faculty members must be in accord with the University’s Tenure and Promotions Policy, Criteria and Procedures.

The following procedure is provided to guide units in preparing and adjudicating files of jointly appointed members of faculty:

  • Committees: the File Preparation Committee and Adjudicating Committee will be constituted by the home unit.
  • Membership: the File Preparation Committee should include a faculty member from the second unit. The Adjudicating Committee should include at least one member from the second unit.
  • File Contents: the evidence in the file must be representative of the person's activities in both units, and should, to the degree appropriate, take into account the standards articulated by both units.
  • Decanal Consideration: the Dean of the home Faculty, in consultation with the Dean of the second Faculty, shall write a letter of transmittal in accordance with the Procedures.

3.3 Referees

3.3.1. Does the candidate have a veto over the list of suggested referees?

No – the candidate can suggest additional names up to one-third or one-quarter of the total names on the list (depending on whether the list is for professional contribution, teaching or service), but cannot veto the final list of referees. However, the File Preparation Committee's best efforts should be made to deal with any particular objections on the part of the candidate so as to arrive at a list which is fair and balanced and from which any reasonable apprehension of bias is absent.

3.3.2. Are the candidate’s suggested referees for professional contribution and standing considered “arm’s length”?

Yes – if they are otherwise arm’s length. The Policy makes clear that all professional contribution and standing referees, which includes those suggested by the candidate, must be at arm’s length from the candidate. According to the Tenure and Promotions Policy, Criteria and Procedures, “referees are not at ‘arm’s length’ if the candidate has had a prior professional involvement with them (e.g., as thesis supervisor, co-author, close colleague within the field, etc.) or has had a significant personal relationship with them.” [Section F.3.1.3.(b)]

3.3.3. What is a close colleague?

A “close colleague” is one where the closeness of the relationship with the applicant is such that his/her opinion might be based – or be perceived to be based – more on personal knowledge or emotion than on an objective evaluation of the candidate’s work.

3.3.4. Can there be exceptions to the arm’s length “rule”?

Yes – only in regard to the provision dealing with close professional relations. The Tenure and Promotions Policy, Criteria and Procedures state that “Exceptions to the “arm’s length” rule shall be made only if in the opinion of the File Preparation Committee, the only referees available to assess work done in a particular field are persons with whom the candidate has had a prior professional involvement.” Under no circumstances can exceptions be made in cases of significant personal relationships. Where an exception to the arm’s length rule is made, “The reasons for choosing such referees should be explained in the file.” [Section F.3.1.3.(c)]

3.3.5. The numbers of collegial referees selected by the candidate and by the File Preparation Committee are specified for Teaching and for Service, but not for Professional Contribution and Standing. How many referees should be selected by the candidate and by the File Preparation Committee for Professional Contribution and Standing?

The File Preparation Committee will make reasonable efforts to include at least one candidate-supplied referee for professional contribution and standing. Note that although no maximum number of referees is specified, references will not normally be sought from more than 5 or 6 referees for a Tenure and Promotion file. Promotion to senior ranks may require more references, but File Preparation Committees should aim to limit the number of references sought.

3.3.6.The Procedures specify that Professional Contribution and Standing references are to be external. Does this prohibit internal colleagues from being solicited as professional contribution and standing referees?

To the extent that the assessment of professional contribution and standing is an evaluation of the work and not of the individual, the Procedures make the assumption that internal colleagues are not at arm’s length. The Procedures note "exceptional circumstances" where colleagues may be asked to write letters of reference for professional contribution. The File Preparation Committee must address why it is appropriate to ask internal referees to evaluate a candidate’s professional contribution and standing.

3.3.7. Can members of Adjudicating Committees be solicited to write collegial letters of assessment on a candidate’s teaching or service?

Normally, members of the Adjudicating Committee will not be asked to serve as referees for any aspect of a candidate’s file. Procedural fairness is normally understood as requiring that those responsible for judging a case not be involved in the preparation and submission of evidence.

However, where this principle is difficult to apply, a File Preparation Committee may ask a colleague who is also on an Adjudicating Committee to assess teaching or service. This arrangement would be appropriate where there are not enough qualified faculty members independent of the Adjudicating Committee to serve as referees, or where only a member of the Committee can properly assess a candidate’s contributions. Wherever possible, however, Faculties and departments should select the internal referees and Adjudicating Committee members to avoid overlap in the functions of referee and Committee member.

The File Preparation Committee should remind all collegial referees to be clear as to which aspects of teaching or service were assessed. In any event, members of the Adjudicating Committee are expected to ensure that their final assessment is based on a balanced view of the criterion area and of the file as a whole.

3.3.8. Can a member who has written a collegial assessment vote on that area of the file?

An Adjudicating Committee member who has been a referee in one or more sections of a tenure file need not recuse him or herself from the adjudication of the file. At the same time, while he or she need not recuse him or herself, a member of an adjudicating committee may not abstain from voting in the area in which he or she was a referee, but vote in the other areas and vote on whether to grant tenure and promotion. If a member abstains from a vote in one area, the member must abstain from all voting on the particular file. Consistent with section B.4. of the Policy, a vote on T&P must be informed by votes in the three criterion areas.

3.4 File Contents

File Preparation Committee Responsibilities

The File Preparation Committee has the responsibility of assembling a file which is complete and which fairly and accurately represents the candidate’s academic career. Therefore, material received for the file must reflect the candidate’s academic career, and must present that career in a fair and accurate light. The File Preparation Committee does not adjudicate the file, although it will provide factual commentary to contextualize evidence in the file.[Section F.3.1.1.(b) of the Policy]

3.4.1. What form should any “contextualizing” commentary from the File Preparation Committee take?

The FPC commentary must be in writing and shall contain factual information required to contextualize the evidence in the file. The commentary does not interpret or summarize evidence nor adjudicate the file. Such commentary could include:

  • how and why the referees were chosen
  • explanation for the choice of any non-arm’s-length referees, as allowed for in the Policy
  • information on teaching, e.g., size of classes, whether courses taught are compulsory or elective.
  • explanation for any substantial delays in assembling the file
  • “…in cases where there may be division within a discipline, the File Preparation Committee should describe the nature of the conflict among schools of thought and present the Adjudicating Committee with a wider range of professional opinion.” (Section B.2.)

3.4.2. Is unsolicited material allowed in the file?

“Unsolicited material” is material which is not solicited by the File Preparation Committee.

Since the Procedures do not make any reference to unsolicited material, it is not expressly prohibited. However, units are reminded that files would normally contain letters which have been specifically solicited by the File Preparation Committee, and more weight should normally be given to assessments which have been specifically solicited for a file. In the event that unsolicited material is contributed to a file, any necessary contextualizing commentary should be provided by the File Preparation Committee. File Preparation Committees could decide not to accept unsolicited material on the basis that it does not reflect the candidate’s academic career, and/or present that career in a fair and accurate light.

If the File Preparation Committee does choose to accept unsolicited material, the candidate shall see the material in its entirety, including signature, and may respond to that material. The candidate should be notified in a timely manner that unsolicited material has been received. The Adjudicating Committee may decide to give this material less weight than other material which was specifically solicited for the file.

No anonymous material may be contained in the file; all material must be signed.

3.4.3. Is there a standard format for preparing a curriculum vitae for tenure and/or promotion files?

No standard format for C.V.’s is specified in the Tenure and Promotions Policy, Criteria and Procedures.  A sample C.V. format is available.  Candidates are recommended to consult with their department chair (or Dean in non-departmentalized Faculties) as to the expectations for an appropriate C.V. format. 

3.4.4. Are the file contents limited to the items specified in the Tenure and Promotions Policy, Criteria and Procedures,
Section F.3.1.5.?

The Policy states that “the contents of a candidate's application file for tenure and/or promotion will be determined by the File Preparation Committee, in consultation with the candidate, and according to Faculty and (where relevant) department/division/school guidelines, and as a minimum will include” the items specified in that section.  Other items may be added by the File Preparation Committee and/or the candidate, as they consider necessary, in order to prepare a file which fairly and accurately represents the candidate’s academic career

3.4.5. What is the advancement to Candidacy letter?

Section 6. of the Procedures Governing Decisions on Advancement to Candidacy states that:

The [Adjudicating Committee’s] decision shall include an assessment of the candidate’s progress in the three criterion areas, a copy of the home unit’s standards for tenure and promotion, and clear guidance to the candidate on meeting the standards for tenure and promotion.

Section F.3.1.5.(b) of the Policy requires that "a copy of the letter advising the candidate of his/her advancement to Candidacy for tenure (or letter of appointment, if the candidate was appointed in Candidacy) which normally shall indicate the standards that the candidate is expected to meet if tenure and promotion are to be granted." While the Dean transmits the decision by way of a letter to the candidate, to ensure the file contains the required information, the Adjudicating Committee's report containing its assessment should be included with the letter.

3.4.6. When can material be added to a file?

Candidates can always add material to their file as it proceeds through the tenure and/or promotion process. Other than the reports and recommendations added as specified in the Policy (from committees and the Dean), material not solicited by the File Preparation Committee or provided by the candidate cannot be added to the file once it has been forwarded from the File Preparation Committee to the Adjudicating Committee. This does not preclude the Adjudicating Committee requesting additional material from the File Preparation Committee if the Adjudicating Committee judges that the file is incomplete.

3.4.7. What portions of a candidate’s file may he/she see?

The Policy states that “The candidate may review all material in his/her file, except for original copies of letters of reference from colleagues or students, or original copies of signed student comments from course evaluation questionnaires.”

The Policy also indicates that for the confidential letters of reference and for any signed student comments on teaching evaluation forms which are used as part of the tenure and/or promotion file, contextual identifiers and signatures will be removed or masked and the remaining text of the letter will be photocopied and provided to the candidate.

The File Preparation Committee should therefore ensure that a complete copy of the file is prepared with identifying information masked and provided to the candidate prior to adjudication. The candidate’s copy of his/her file should contain copies of the letters of reference with identifiers removed in place of the original confidential, signed letters of reference.[Tenure and Promotions Policy, Criteria and Procedures, Sections F.3.1.6.(b) and F.3.1.7.]

3.4.8. Must a candidate’s contribution to collaborative research projects and/or jointly-authored works be assessed?

Yes. Section B.2. of the Policy, which deals with the assessment of Professional Contribution and Standing, states: ´When the candidate has written or produced a work as part of a team or group in a research project, as often happens in the sciences, the nature of his or her contribution must be assessed.”

Statements from some co-authors and/or collaborators therefore must be solicited. However, it should be clear in the letter of solicitation that co-authors/collaborators are not being asked to evaluate the candidate’s professional contribution and standing.

Section 1: General
Section 2: Unit Standards
Section 3: File Preparation
Section 4: Adjudicating Committees
Section 5: Roles and Responsibilities