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11/3/2016 » 11/5/2016
Philosophy Born of Struggle XXIII

APA National Office Closed

Statement on External Department Reviews
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The following statement was prepared by the APA committee on the status and future of the profession (William Mann, chair) and approved by the board of officers at its 2006 meeting.

The APA national office often receives requests from philosophy departments for recommendations of persons appropriate to serve as external reviewers. The board of officers realizes that departmental review is a fairly common, periodic phenomenon in the life of many institutions of higher learning. After considerable deliberation, the board has decided that the APA should not adopt any mechanism for providing the names of potential reviewers of philosophy departments or programs. Two major considerations, the diversity of programs and perceptions about endorsement, have led the board to this position.

Philosophy departments are embedded in institutions with diverse problems and priorities, varying missions, and various visions of the role of philosophy in higher education. A referee suitable for reviewing an analytically oriented department in a land-grant public university may not be an ideal choice, for example, for a department in a small, private, liberal arts college, just as a reviewer for a church-affiliated college may not work well for the review of a PhD-granting university. As a consequence, the board sees practical difficulties in maintaining an up-to-date list of willing potential reviewers with a wide enough range of experience and competence, sensitive enough to match the diverse needs of people seeking recommendations.

Moreover, were the national office to maintain such a list, it would be difficult to avoid the perception that people on the list bore the endorsement of the APA. The APA has neither the desire, the expertise, nor the resources to appraise the credentials of potential reviewers. As a consequence, although the board expects and encourages departments informally to seek advice about potential reviewers from other philosophers, it does not believe that the APA is well positioned to offer such advice officially.

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