External References

A colleague says, “The hardest thing about going up for Full Professor is to get external references. You’ll need several people from other schools who are recognized authorities in your field and who will want to write a narrative about your scholarship. That’s so hard!”

When I was a beginner Assistant Professor, I also found that to be very intimidating. I’m not sociable! I don’t network! I don’t meet people! Nobody knows me!

But now the hardest part of the task for me is to narrow my list to 10 names. There are so many great people to reach out to! You end up knowing people and being known by them without trying. As long as you publish worthwhile stuff, of course.

6 thoughts on “External References”

  1. Reply to: External References

    What I found more difficult was choosing people I knew were good and respected, but were also at institutions “generally recognized” as high quality. People that I knew were really good were often at lesser known schools, which would not have impressed people not familiar with my field. I ended up choosing two elderly superstars and some others who were less well-known, but were at highly prestigious universities. The other factor was that people had to know my work but not me personally. Any personal connection was disqualifying, of course.


    1. My field is not large, so I wouldn’t be able to find many people who never met me personally. But it’s better than French or German where everybody is best buds because they are so few of them.


      1. Usually they can know you personally, but you can’t have a conflict of interest, like being a former student or collaborator. The external reviewer usually has a paragraph that says, “I know Clarrisa personally; we were on a panel together at LASA and have exchanged a few friendly emails.” It varies by universities, but that’s how we do it where I work; and I have done reviews for people I know at many universities, both for tenure and full professor.


  2. It’s harder in the sense that people are super busy and the stakes are lower after tenure. When someone goes up for tenure, people know it’s a junior person’s job on the line and try to find the time (in my field it’s considered a negative for the candidate if someone is asked and they don’t write a letter). Going up for full, same as with applying for some prestigious awards and fellowships that require letters, isn’t as fraught as tenure, so people are more likely to ignore or say “I’m busy, find someone else.”


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