Previously, applicants were able to request and obtain reference materials and third-party assessment information provided through CaRMS for their applications. Why has this changed?

CaRMS regularly reviews and revises its privacy policy to ensure it is current with the evolving policy landscape. In the most recent review, it was determined that providing access to third-party sourced documents such as reference materials was potentially detrimental to the integrity of the match. Reference materials are viewed by many faculties as integral evaluative tools, an important part of the applicant assessment process. A large part of the utility of reference materials is predicated upon the confidential nature of their contents, which encourages honest expression of opinion and experience. We heard concerns from the community that the value of reference materials could be undermined if they can be accessed by applicants. Maintaining the confidentiality of reference materials and other third-party assessment information better enables them to perform their intended purpose as candid and objective evaluation tools, keeping the match safe and fair for everyone. 

Stakeholders have raised the possibility that referees may be unlikely to provide objective commentary if they know the subject of the commentary will have the opportunity to access the document. This concern is not unfounded, as over the past match cycle referees have expressed discomfort that applicants are able to view the contents of the references they provide. Some referees have gone so far as to revise or remove references as a result of the knowledge that they could potentially be accessed by applicants. Referees have also shared that applicants have contacted them after accessing a reference to ask that the referee modify and re-submit it. These actions are counter to the intended purpose of reference materials and have the potential to introduce bias and inequality into what is intended to be a fair and confidential process. 


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