Review of the Peer Review Process 06/09/04

LAUC-B Brown Bag Lunch
Wednesday, June 9, 2004
12-1, 303 Doe Library
Review of the Peer Review Process

Allan Urbanic (Chair, LAUC-B), opened the discussion by remarking that this Brown Bag Lunch marks the beginning of the process to examine the peer review process. More Brown Bag Lunches will be held as needed. Allan started the discussion by soliciting attendees to speak to experiences of the review process (not specifics of anyone's particular review). Approximately 18 librarians participated.

The Process

Some participants felt that the process was still shrouded in mystery. Improvements included the new FAQ on the Web page (http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/LHRD/lib.html), and training sessions offered by CAPA. Participants noted that the process differs for librarians from the Affiliated Libraries, as the review initiators are faculty and do not understand the nuances of the process for librarians. More training sessions were thought to be a good idea, although getting faculty review initiators to attend still seems doubtful.

One attendee, who had served on taskforces to examine the issue of streamlining the peer review process in the past, remarked that this discussion has been going on for years, and what it boils down to is one's philosophical view of the process. If you desire a peer review process that is transparent, it will be a complex, time-consuming process. What we have, as cumbersome as it is, is beneficial to the candidate. Secret, closed-door negotiations are more straightforward and efficient, but not necessarily fair or beneficial to the candidate. Our current system offers much more protection.

It was suggested that perhaps the process could be streamlined when it is only for merit (such as using a form with check boxes), and the full dossier for promotion or career status.

The Dossier

Where has the impetus for escalating the volume of documentation come from? When is enough enough? Shouldn't the quality of documentation be emphasized over the quantity of documentation?

Attendees noted that the problem of overabundant documentation might stem from the fact that there are many new librarians and review initiators and that the "fear factor" pushes the desire for more and more documentation. Money and pride are attached to the process, raising the anxiety level. The edict, "Write less!" may need to come from the University Librarian, as the head of the entire process.

If a dossier seems insufficient, CAPA does ask candidates for more documentation. One participant noted that when one is faced with unusual job responsibilities (such as moving a library) more explanation is needed.

Training sessions for review initiators and having sample dossiers available were thought to be good ideas, although having sample dossiers may be a sensitive topic. (Other campuses make sample dossiers available.)

New review initiators may be hesitant to critique a candidate's dossier, although it is in the review initiator's purview to do so.

When talking about bulk, there is a distinction between the attachments and the narrative self-evaluation. Attaching an 80-page report is acceptable; writing a 15-page self-evaluation may not be.

Individuals expressed a wish to get more feedback from CAPA about the form of the dossier. This may not be addressed in the redacted letter from CAPA that candidates may request. Should CAPA be asked to address the dossier specifically in their evaluation?

Should there be a list of dossier "don'ts" along with the FAQs on the Web page?

Participants discussed the role of LAUC mentors in educating new librarians about the peer review process. Some reported success, while others did not. It is not explicitly the role of LAUC mentors to address peer review, although many do.

UCB & the Other Campuses

It was remarked that UCB is stricter than the other campuses when it comes to peer review. Each campus has authority to interpret the guidelines their own way. Allan pointed out that the Systemwide Committee on Professional Governance (Ron Heckart is the LAUC-B representative) recently came out with a study comparing the campuses on this point. [http://www.ucop.edu/lauc/pg/report-spring-2004.doc]

LAUC, LAUC-B, and CAPA

CAPA is a committee of LAUC-B, and as such, reports every year to the LAUC-B Chair before the Fall Assembly. It was noted that very little substantive information is passed along in the CAPA Chair's report. Discussion followed about what agency has authority over the peer review process. When individuals have problems with the peer review process, they come to the union, but the union has no jurisdiction. CAPA has no jurisdiction over procedural matters; those are referred to LHRD. CAPA cannot communicate directly with candidates as it is a breach of confidentiality.

Some participants felt that LAUC should take action on such issues as what part of the year counts or does not count towards one's evaluation, when candidates are eligible for career status, etc. LAUC has been left out of the loop on timetable discussions; it is unclear who has authority for these decisions -- LHRD, the UL? Some participants felt that LAUC should be more active in the peer review process overall.

Allan, as LAUC-B Chair, announced that he would like to meet with CAPA in August or September to discuss these issues [note: at its July meeting, ExComm approved of the policy to meet with CAPA every year after that year’s peer review process is completed], and have a follow-up meeting with University Librarian Tom Leonard [the LAUC-B Chair and Vice Chair meet monthly with the UL; peer review issues can be discussed at these times].

The Brown Bag was adjourned at 12:55pm.

Minutes taken by Jane Rosario, LAUC-B Secretary