Role of the review: To assess a candidate’s potential success in a program of study or academic award, and select candidates for recommended offers of admission or academic awards.
Suggested strategies to minimize implicit bias in the review and selection process:
- Use clearly established, standardized assessment metrics and processes with a common rubric and an understanding of bias.
- Allow sufficient time and avoid multi-tasking when you review applications to allow for self-correction of bias-related tendencies.
- Review the selection criteria before you begin evaluating applications.
- Question whether your evaluation would change if the applicant were of a different gender or cultural background, if they had a different name or if they were working on a different research topic.
- Guard against over-reliance on one piece of information or on “first impression” reactions.
- Organize the applications by random sorting the order of review numerically.
- Pre-score all nominations assigned and submit pre-scores to the designated committee chair or administrator prior to the selection committee meeting.
- Consult guidelines for reviewing nominations involving Indigenous scholarship or research with Indigenous communities, such as those available through your institution or Government of Canada.
- Programs and committees can develop a standardized letter of recommendation with cognitive and non-cognitive scales.
- Read the writing sample first, then look at test scores, then look to the letters for — ideally — concrete information that contextualizes the rest of the material in the packet, particularly the writing sample or candidate statement.
- Pay attention to the facts within the specific content.
- Establish the weight of each component of the assessment. (Letter of reference, grade point average, personal statement, writing sample relative to each other.)
Source: Adapted from the Vanier Graduate Scholarships website. (Canada, 2020)