Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science

Guidelines for R&P Reading Committees


The purpose of the Reading Committee is to have a small group of faculty (2-3) from different areas carefully read, digest and discuss the merits of each candidate's case. In addition to considering the details of the case as it stands alone, the committee should take the opportunity to discuss how the promotion fits with the whole of SCS.

One member of each committee will be a designated chair, and will be responsible for arranging the committee meetings. The meetings should be forums for gaining fairly thorough, real understandings of each candidate's specific contributions and position in the field and in the school.

The reading groups are not meant to inhibit faculty from looking at all the materials of all the other cases. Rather, by setting up these groups we ensure that in-depth, informed discussion goes on before the larger official meetings and votes take place.


Faculty and members of review committees alike often ask for information that is hard to find in the promotions documentation. The information requested concerns the significance of the candidate's research and the stature of the people writing letters of recommendation. In order to solve this problem, each year we appoint someone from the senior faculty to chair each promotion case, who becomes familiar with the case and prepares to speak and write on the candidate's behalf.

The two tasks for the chairperson are:

  1. To summarize the case at the official senior faculty meeting, and
  2. To write a "digest" of the case that will be forwarded to the review committee with the other information.

The digest should address three things:

  1. A summary of the candidate's research work and its significance for advancing the field,
  2. A review of the candidate's papers and/or systems (in the style of an annotated bibliography) pointing out their significance and contributions to the field, and
  3. A brief comment on the authors of external recommendations, describing their position and/or contribution to the field.

The digest should be on the order of 1-3 typed pages long: half a page for the personal evaluation, one page for the review of the papers and systems, and half a page commenting on the recommenders.

The digest does not replace the internal letters of recommendation. Any personal opinions of the shepherd or members of the reading committee should be expressed in a separate letter to be included elsewhere in the case.

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