Search Report


Search Report Instructions 

Important Note:  The draft search report, three referee letters, and the draft offer letter should be submitted to the Office of Academic Affairs in one package.  

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.

Preparing the Search Report

  • The report should be in the form of a narrative, and ideally match the Outline of the Search Report guidelines found here.
  • The report should be in the form of a narrative.
  • 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 UML 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 the committee 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. 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 definitive 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….”.

Definitive Pool

  • 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.
  • Describe each DP candidate’s background and qualifications in a summary paragraph. This description should be detailed for all candidates (typically 1/3 of a page or so),  Explicitly tie each entry back to all items listed as part of the search criteria which is reflective of the specific criteria in the ad. For the top candidate(s), this  description will eventually be used as the basis for the “Narrative Report” section of the long form.  For candidates lower in ranking in larger definitive pools, you may provide more concise descriptions and criteria discussion (a short paragraph is often acceptable, provided that the rationale for their inclusion in the DP 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 demographic report from the Faculty Search Applicant Tracking (FSAT) system.
  • 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 or a screenshot of your posted 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.

Solicitation Letter

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.

Evaluation Letters

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. Note that referee solicitation letters should be signed by a senior faculty member who is not the department chair or division chief, or a mentor or collaborator of the candidate.  Referee letters must be submitted together with the search report and draft offer letter (see below for minimum requirements).

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 prior to solicitation.

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.

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. For internal candidates, at least two letters must be obtained from external referees.

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 of Medicine Long Form Evidence Table.

The department should submit a grid to OAA with information about proposed external referees who can provide national assessment of the candidate’s achievement and distinction prior to solicitation. The number of referees should align with the number of external referee letters that are required for the appointment long form. If named peers are required by the relevant long form, an additional grid with information on five proposed named comparison peers should also be submitted. Guidelines for referee and peer selection can be found in the Evidence Tables + Guidelines in the Faculty Affairs Resources.

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. A minimum of three letters must be submitted with the draft search report and draft offer letter. (An approved referee grid is required.) For internal candidates, at least two letters must be obtained from external referees. 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.Upon approval of the referee grid (and, if applicable, the comparison peer grid), the department may send a solicitation letter to referees using the appropriate standard letter template. The letter should be signed by someone who is not the department chair or division chief, or a mentor or collaborator of the candidate; under normal circumstances, this will be a senior member of the department other than the department chair or division chief.

Composition of the Referee and Peer Set for Associate and Full Professor Appointments:

In the Faculty Affairs Resources section of the website, you will find Guidelines for Referee, Trainee and Peer Selection, Sample Referee and Trainee Grids in word and excel format, as well as Sample Solicitation Letters.

Concurrently Preparing the Long Form

Please see Appointment, Reappointment, Promotion >> Professoriate for guidelines.

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.

See the Long Form Sections document for a description of the long form sections.

Particularly important to the new appointment are the following sections:

  • Narrative Report: Please follow the Narrative Report Guidelines found in the Faculty Affairs Resources section of the website.
  • Clinical Evaluations

If a clinical care role is planned for the candidate, as is the norm for the UML, 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 Survey responses should be obtained from Stanford colleagues using the Qualtrics Online CES. A Detailed Instruction Manual for CES can be found in the Guidelines: Long Form section of Faculty Affairs Resources.