Search Report Instructions
Important Note: The draft search report, three external referee letters, and the draft offer letter should be submitted to the Office of Academic Affairs in one package. Instructions for the search report and offer letter should be reviewed in tandem with this page.
For new appointments to the faculty at Stanford, both the distinction of the candidate of choice and the search process itself will receive close scrutiny during review at the department, the School of Medicine, and the University levels.
The various review bodies involved will seek reassurance that a department or institute has:
- made appropriate efforts to search broadly, such that the applicant pool includes the best possible candidates nationally for the position;
- made appropriate efforts to solicit applications from qualified female and underrepresented minority candidates;
- followed standard practices of the University, the School of Medicine, and department, including the management of any possible conflict-of-interest issues between members of the search committee and known candidates;
- included the solicitation of referee opinion before extension of an offer letter to the candidate;
- selected an outstanding candidate who will not only meet criteria for the rank and line as specified in the Medical Faculty Handbook, but who will enrich the Stanford community and bring distinction to the School and University.
At the end of the search, you will submit for review a narrative description of history of the search process (the “search report”). If your search and candidate of choice are approved, the search report will eventually be incorporated into the relevant appointment long form document. It is therefore important to keep careful records during the search process.
Description of the Process
In preparing the search report:
- Include the position/billet number(s) associated with the search.
- Include a description of the position, along with programmatic need. For example, “We sought an MCL faculty member at the Assistant or Associate Professor level, board certified or board eligible in __________, with established research focus in ____________. This candidate would play a critical clinical role as director of the new __________ clinic and support the ______ investigative initiative underway in the department”)
- Include a listing of the names and faculty ranks of the search committee members. The chair of the committee should be identified. An explanation should be provided if any non-faculty (e.g., residents and/or fellows, medical and/or graduate students, hospital management) served on the search committee. If any search committee members were recused from discussion of a particular known candidate or candidates due to conflict-of-interest issues, this should be explained.
- Include dates of significant meetings of the search committee.
- Include dates of advertisements and the names of the journals in which they appeared.
- Include dates that solicitation letters were mailed, and to whom. For example, “On [date], letters were sent to Chairs of [number] of departments of [specialty] throughout the U.S. “
- Describe efforts to identify qualified underrepresented minority and female candidates (for example, advertisement in publications of underrepresented minority or female professional or academic organizations, or letters sent to leaders at schools with large numbers of underrepresented minority students). If personal contacts were made either with potential candidates or with those who might be in a position to recommend candidates, the outcome of those conversations should be described. For example, “members of the search committee contacted 14 colleagues to encourage application or solicit recommendations for potential applicants. These efforts yielded four additional applicants, two of whom were selected as finalists.”
- Describe specific efforts that were made to increase the size of the applicant pool beyond advertising and sending solicitation letters to institutions and individuals as well as the outcome of those efforts. Such efforts might include directly contacting potential candidates; communicating with colleagues at other institutions who may have special insight into the applicant pool, including those candidates in the pipeline; making personal contact with potential candidates at professional meetings and conferences and/or publicizing the job among meeting/conference attendees; direct outreach to discipline-based professional organizations, including phone calls to identify promising candidates. Again, the outcome of personal contacts should be described as above.
- Describe the process that was used to establish the definitive pool (i.e., the people who were interviewed or invited for an interview). Include the date on which the definite pool was determined.
- Describe any unusual events (such as “starting over”, or redefining the position, or the identification of an additional candidate(s) from the search). Provide a clear explanation so that a reviewer with no prior knowledge of the search can easily understand what happened. One way to do this is to track the history of major events in chronological order; earlier waves of a multi-phase search may be summarized . For example: “In 2011-2012, we conducted a national search for _______. This search yielded a pool of 23 applicants and three finalists. Negotiations were pursued for the top two candidates, both of whom elected to stay at their home institutions. In 2013, we received permission to re-advertise, broadening the position to include the rank of full Professor….”.
- Include a list of the definitive pool (DP) candidates – the ones you invited for interview.
- List the DP candidates in order of preference, top candidate first.
- Following the name of each DP candidate, state the ethnicity and gender (if known) and the method by which the candidate was identified (Ad, Letter, other). For example, “Jane Doe, M.D. ([ethnicity], female, personal contact by search committee member).”
- Describe each DP candidate’s background and qualifications in a summary paragraph. This description should be detailed for the top few candidates (typically 1/3 to 1/2 of a page or so, more for the top candidate), as this description will eventually be used as the basis for the “Evaluation of Candidate” section of the long form. Clearly indicate the rationale for each candidate’s ranking. For the top few candidates, this should be specific. For example, “It was the consensus of the committee that Dr. X is an outstanding clinician and teacher, with an exciting investigative program; however, his national recognition and record of published scholarship are not as established as those of Drs. Y and Z; thus, Dr. X was ranked third in the definitive pool.” For candidates lower in ranking in larger definitive pools, you may provide more concise descriptions and ranking explanations (a short paragraph is often acceptable, and it may make sense to describe these candidates as ranked “below the top candidates,” provided that the rationale is clearly explained.)
Affirmative Action Aspects of Faculty Search
- In cases where the total applicant pool is over 20, the number of underrepresented minority or female candidates not selected for the definitive pool should be included along with a general statement (rather than a detailed individual explanation) as to why these candidates did not meet the criteria for further consideration.
- Include the Faculty Applicant Self-Identification grid.
- Check the numbers to be sure that they reconcile with those in the listing of the definitive pool candidates, as well as the listing of underrepresented minority candidates not included in the definitive pool (in other words, the numbers on the grid should match the numbers in the narrative section).
- Consider the proportion of women and underrepresented minority candidates in the definitive pool. If this proportion is appreciably lower than that in the total applicant pool, include an appropriate analytical comment in the search narrative report.
Include a photocopy of a published journal page with your advertisement. Indicate the title and date of the journal and highlight the ad (for example, draw a box around it with a marker, or use a star in the margin). For a straightforward search, you need only include a copy of one ad. If different ads with changing content have been used during a lengthy or complex search, include one copy of each different ad, in chronological order.
Include a dated copy of the solicitation letter to institutions and individuals (e.g., department chairs or program directors). It is unnecessary to include a sample page of addresses; however, the distribution list should be maintained as part of the record for the search.
Curriculum Vitae and Bibliography
- Attach the curriculum vitae and bibliography of the top candidate. This need not be in any particular format, but should be complete (an abbreviated CV, such as an NIH bio sketch, is not acceptable).
- Ensure that the CV and bibliography are up to date. It is important that all publications published or submitted, grants received or submitted, etc. are included. This should be verified with the candidate shortly before submitting the search report.
Timing of Referee Letter Solicitation: Pre- or Post-Interview
As indicated in the section on “Interviews and Candidate Selection,” to maximize efficiency, further inform and validate the final search deliberations, and avoid delays during negotiations with the candidate of choice, the search committee should solicit evaluation letters for each of its top one to three candidates either before or immediately after on-campus interviews, as detailed here:
- For assistant professor candidates in all lines, these letters may be solicited by the candidate, and it is not necessary to use the Stanford template letter. At the department’s discretion, the letters may be from a mix of internal and external referees, including those who have served as a mentor to and/or collaborator with the candidate. The letters that are gathered in connection with the search process will then be used to satisfy the evidentiary requirement for the appointment long form. A note of caution: supplemental letters may need to be solicited if the letters in hand do not discuss the candidate’s scholarship, teaching and clinical care (if applicable) in a substantive way.
- When multiple top candidates are under consideration for associate or full professor positions in any line and letters from external referees would be a determining factor in the outcome, it is recommended that departments solicit three letters for each candidate. The relevant standard solicitation letter, including appropriate criteria, should be used, and the referee grid must be approved by OAA.
- Once a single top candidate has been identified, it is recommended that departments solicit the full complement of external referee letters for the appointment long form review. Letters should be solicited in compliance with standard procedure (including OAA approval of the list and solicitation letter) so that they are usable as evidence in the appointment long form.
- Occasionally, faculty members at other institutions do not want the early exposure generated by the solicitation of external referee letters. In such cases, departments should have a discussion with OAA to determine the best course.
- Referee letters must be submitted together with the search report and draft offer letter (see below for minimum requirements).
Number of Letters Required – Assistant Professor Appointments
Three letters must be submitted with the draft search report and draft offer letter. (A referee grid is not required.) These three letters will then become part of the appointment long form.
Number of Letters Required – Associate and Full Professor Appointments
- The full complement of external letters for the appointment long form should normally be solicited as soon as the candidate of choice is identified. The number of letters varies by type of action. For specific numbers, please consult the School instructions for either form B1: New Untenured Appointment or B5: New Appointment Conferring Tenure or Continuing Term.
- In cases where the school instructions specify a minimum and maximum number (e.g., 8-12 letters for new tenured appointments), OAA recommends soliciting the maximum number of referees to increase the likelihood that you will receive the minimum required number of letters in a timely fashion. For the same reason, in cases where the table specifies a single number (e.g., 5 letters for MCL associate professors), OAA recommends soliciting two more than the number.
- Search reports (and requests for waiver of search) submitted to OAA should be accompanied by all evaluative information received at the time of submission, including all received referee letters (and, if they have already been solicited for the long form, any trainee letters or clinical/teaching evaluations) – essentially, if you have it in hand, you should submit it with the packet. OAA will generally expect that the department will receive responses from half or more of the external referees before proceeding to submission of the search report or waiver request. To this end, it is important that referees be given a reasonable amount of time to respond before the department presents the letter set for consideration by OAA. Two to three weeks is a good general reference point. In special circumstances, with permission from the Vice Dean, smaller referee response proportions and/or faster solicitation time frames may be acceptable.
Composition of the Referee Set for Associate and Full Professor Appointments
- Confidential letters from experts in the field are the cornerstone of the evaluation process at Stanford and other top-tier institutions. External, independent referee letters are a critical part of the evaluation process, validating the candidate’s stature and impact in the field.
- It is expected that the overwhelming majority of the external referees will have independent, “arms-length” perspectives (not more than two or three should have mentorship, co-authorship, or other close personal relationships to the candidate).
- The list of external referees should represent a geographic mixture of top-tier universities and institutions. For MCL associate professor candidates, the referees may be drawn from one broad geographical region (e.g., the Western states). For all other candidates, the geographical distribution should be at least national in scope (for some candidates and fields, an international scope may be appropriate).
- For tenured appointments, external referees should be recognized as national or international leaders in their field and, when possible, should be from institutions comparable to Stanford or organizations of similar high quality (e.g., the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and similar government organizations). The distinction of the external referees should be documented through leadership positions held, memberships (e.g., National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, etc.), and major honors and awards that are national in scope and/or of great significance to the field (e.g., “editor of leading text,” “former President of the Society of X,” etc.
- Provide a brief footnote on the grid for each external referee who does not hold an academic rank (the general expectation is that the overwhelming majority of the external referees will hold academic positions – exceptions are sometimes included, but should be explained). For example, “As Director of product research for _____ corporation, Dr. Jane Smith does not hold an academic position. Her evaluation is requested because she is widely recognized as a world expert in ___________.” It is NOT necessary to provide explanations for candidates who hold appointments at the NIH, the CDC, and similar government institutions.
- Provide a brief explanation as a footnote on the grid for each external referee whose academic rank is not at least equal to that of the candidate (the general expectation is that all of the external referees will hold academic positions with academic rank at least equal to that proposed for the candidate – exceptions are sometimes included, but must be explained). For example, “Dr. John Doe is an Assistant Professor. He is widely known as an expert in _________ and his assessment was especially valued by the committee.”
Named Peers for Associate and Full Professor Appointments in the University Tenure Line
- To obtain information from the referees that is useful in determining whether the candidate meets the criteria for appointment as an untenured associate professor, tenured associate professor or tenured professor, the referees should be asked to compare the candidate with a group of people (the "named peers”) consisting of highly regarded people in the field who, depending on career stage, are setting or have set the standard of excellence for the discipline.
- In preparing the lists of proposed referees and comparison peers (i.e., the “referee grid”), the faculty member(s) overseeing the long form assembly should consider carefully that conferral of tenure at Stanford requires distinction across a broadly defined, large, thriving investigative field (as opposed to a niche area). The referee and peer sets should be of sufficient scope to allow this determination. A lack of familiarity with this concept can result in significant errors in the selection of referees and/or comparison peers. Such errors have potential to undercut the validity of the referee solicitation, causing significant problems and/or delays during the review process.
- If named peers are required, a grid of 5 (five) peers should be included.
- The department should explicitly state the name of the broadly defined comparison field and (briefly) descriptively affirm its breadth - for example, are there large numbers of researchers (hundreds?) working in this area nationally and internationally? Do the faculties of our top peer institutions typically include tenure line representation in this area? Has this area been identified as a funding priority by the NIH? Other context? Please use the comments box in the referee grid area to add a sentence or two about this.
- The grid should include each peer’s name, current title, current institution, and the year and institution of the most advanced degree (for example, Jane Smith. Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins. M.D.: 1967, Harvard) - do your best to obtain this information from public sources – such as the web. Do not contact the peers. If the information is unavailable, state this on the grid.
- The grid should also include information on the area of study and scientific/academic distinctions for each peer, as you would for the external referees. This information is important, as it will help reviewers assess the breadth of the field defined by the peer group (as above) and the distinction of the peers themselves.
- For candidates for Associate Professor, it is acceptable and appropriate for the comparison peer set to include a couple of full Professors in the mix, to allow referees to make a comparative assessment.
- For candidates for full Professor, it is acceptable and appropriate for the comparison peers to be drawn from the referee group (theoretically, you’re asking the top senior leaders in the field for their opinions; it makes sense that these people should also be good comparisons.) Just be sure to carefully remove the referee's name from the solicitation letter that they receive, such that they are not asked to compare the candidate to themselves (they should only receive four names).
- Normally Stanford faculty should not be selected as comparison peers.
Named Peers for the Nontenure Line - Research
Named comparison is also required for the NTLR in these cases:
- new appointments to Associate Professor or Professor
- reappointments or promotions conferring a continuing term of appointment.
Considerations are similar to those for the UTL as above, except that the breadth of the comparison field may be narrower. OAA does not require submission of a description of the breadth of the comparison field for NTLR actions.
Draft Offer Letter Package
- Before releasing an offer letter to your candidate, the draft document will be reviewed by OAA staff to ensure correct use of the template document, inclusion of appropriate academic criteria and performance expectations, and appropriate discussion of the plan for review and appointment. It will also be reviewed by School of Medicine Finance staff to ensure the inclusion of appropriate language regarding salary and other resources to be provided to the candidate. Finally, the offer letter, along with letters of evaluation, will be reviewed by the Vice Dean before the offer is approved. Edits may be requested by OAA and/or Finance.
- Before releasing the letter to the candidate, you are responsible for ensuring that all requested edits have been made to the document, and that explicit permission to release the letter has been received from both Finance and OAA.
- Offer letters should be submitted with the corresponding search report. A draft offer letter will NOT be approved before the corresponding search report is approved (or before we receive notification that the Provost has approved a waiver of search). In most cases, a draft offer letter will not be approved before receipt of at least three letters of evaluation (see below).
- Also, if the candidate is not a U.S. citizen, please ensure that the department has handled any relevant immigration issues.
General Process Overview
- Department submits required items to OAA and Finance (via email – items listed below).
- OAA issues academic approval.
- Faculty Compensation communicates financial approval to department and provides department with combined edits from OAA and Finance.
- Department makes edits and releases offer letter to candidate.
- Department sends copy of offer letter, signed by candidate, to OAA and to Faculty Compensation.
Items to be Submitted (via email) to OAA:
- Search Report
- Current CV and Bibliography
- Draft Offer Letter. Generate the letter using the appropriate template, downloaded from the OAA web site to ensure current language.
- Evaluation Letters
Items to be Submitted (via email) to Finance:
- Draft Offer Letter
- Personnel Action Form (PAF)
- Support Memo (if applicable) If the faculty candidate will have significant responsibilities at an outside institution and/or be paid by an outside institution, attach a brief memo from that institution acknowledging the faculty candidate’s planned role and funding as applicable. This most commonly applies to faculty members based at the VAPAHCS.
- Current CV
Concurrently Preparing the Long Form
Once a candidate of choice has been identified, and as the draft offer letter, search report and external referee letters are being prepared for submission, the faculty lead for the appointment action and the faculty affairs administrator, should immediately begin assembling elements of the long form.
The Long Form Tools page contains a complete list of long form sections and OAA tools for completing them.
Particularly important to the new appointment are the following sections:
Description of the Candidate’s Role
Scholarship – This section of the long form should be one page or less and should include an account of one specific work by the candidate and its impact or importance.
Teaching and Clinical Activities – Descriptions of the candidate’s teaching and, if applicable, clinical activities should be limited to one paragraph each.
- Using the trainee grid, the list of trainees should be submitted to the Office of Academic Affairs for approval and solicitation letters should follow the standard template. The number of letters required is included in the School Instructions for the appropriate long form.
- The referee grid should contain at least the minimum, and not more than the maximum, number of trainees as specified in the appropriate appointment form. (In general, the Office of Academic Affairs recommends using the maximum number of trainees)
- The list of trainees should be generated by random selection from a list of the candidate’s past and current trainees (if the number of the candidate’s past and current trainees is less than the maximum specified by the form, the entire list should be solicited).
- In order to ensure candid responses, the mix of trainees should if possible favor recent former trainees over current trainees. Thus, you may wish to randomly select a number of recent former trainees, and then randomly select one or two current trainees. (Whenever trainee letters are required, this selection process will need to be described in a sentence or two in the teaching section of the long form).
- The current status of each trainee should be indicated, such as their current job title or academic position.
- If trainee letters are solicited earlier in the process (that is, when external referee letters are being solicited for submission with the search report and offer letter), then any letters received to date should be submitted along with those materials.
The candidate should be asked to provide copies of all available standardized course evaluation summaries.
If a clinical care role is planned for the candidate, as is the norm for the MCL, some assessment of clinical performance must be provided. If the candidate is currently at another institution or has very recently arrived at Stanford, this assessment might be provided in comments in external referees' letters and/or in clinical evaluation forms from the candidate’s home institution. If the candidate has been providing clinical care at Stanford or one of Stanford’s affiliates, Clinical Excellence Core Competency Evaluation (CECCE) forms should be obtained from Stanford colleagues as described in the CECCE form instructions.
Long Form Deadlines
The final version of the long form is due in OAA within two months after the candidate has been identified (that is, from the date on which the search report [or search waiver request] and offer letter are approved). The clock begins running with approval of the search report and offer letter (and, if applicable, external referee letters), not with the candidate’s acceptance of the offer.
Associate and Full Professors
The final version of the long form is due in OAA within three months after the candidate has been identified (that is, from the date on which the search report [or search waiver request] and offer letter are approved). The clock begins running with approval of the search report and offer letter (and, if applicable, external referee letters), not with the candidate’s acceptance of the offer.