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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Appointment and Promotion Guidelines: Research Professor in OVCR Centers

The purpose of this document is to: (1) provide a general guidelines for UW–Madison OVCR Centers to use when considering recruitments, appointments, reappointments, and promotion of employees within the Research Professor track (all levels); and, (2) broadly describe the criteria and procedures for such appointments, reappointments, and promotions. OVCR Centers shall adapt this approach and create specific written and published guidelines/metrics for Research Professor appointments (all levels) in order to best meet their needs.

Each OVCR Center should develop a process for establishing and evaluating Research Professor titles (all levels) that fits within the guidelines outlined in this document, unless the title series is not appropriate for use in a particular Center. However, in all Centers, if a case comes forward requesting consideration for appointment as Research Professor (all ranks), then a consistent process must be developed. If a Center believes that a major change in these guidelines is necessary to advance their research enterprise, the Center Director may seek approval from the VCR for a specific exception(s).

The Research Professor title series is a non-tenure track that allows and recognizes focused research effort. Members of the Research Professor track are expected to focus on research, including leadership of the scientific and technical aspects, pursuit of intramural and/or extramural funding, and compliance with all financial, ethical, and administrative aspects of the research.

Independent research (where independence is based on the standards that define independent research in the respective OVCR Center) must comprise the majority (at least 50%) of Research Professors’ (all levels) activities, and those activities should have clearly identified sources of funding. It is expected that Research Professors (all levels) will obtain extramural funding to support the major components of their portfolio.

These expectations distinguish the Research Professor track from other title series, such as Scientist and Researcher, who are not required to seek, execute, and lead their research program. While independent funding does not automatically qualify employees for appointment to the Research Professor track, internal and/or external grants or other independent research funding are generally required to fund the majority of the effort associated with these appointments.

In some Centers, the Research Professor track will be used to develop specific independent research program needs for that Center. This track is not intended to be a mechanism for recognizing outstanding performance by individuals in other academic staff positions, should not supplant current promotion or recognition systems that are in place (e.g., promotion in the Scientist track), and should not be used for personnel who provide a predominantly service or teaching function. The Research Professor track should not be used as a substitute for tenure-track faculty appointments.

B. Coverage:

Employees appointed or promoted into the Research Professor titles are considered academic staff. Therefore, the UW-Madison Academic Staff Policies and Procedures ( apply to these appointments. Research Professors (all levels) are represented by the academic staff governance and have representation in the Academic Staff Assembly with the governance rights afforded them through Wisconsin State Statutes 36.09 (4m).

C. Track promotion:

Research Professor track employees may enter at the Assistant Research Professor level, or any other level consistent with their experience and credentials.

A clock for promotion through the title series will not be prescribed. Employees may progress from Assistant to Associate to Full at a pace commensurate with their goals, achievements, and particular Center metrics. Assistant or Associate Research Professors may remain in those ranks indefinitely, as appropriate for a given employee.

D. Duties:

Research Professor track employees are expected to conduct high quality, productive, and impactful research programs. All research programs must be performed with the highest level of academic integrity.

Research Professor track employees are expected to seek and maintain independent research funding. Thus, Research Professors (all levels) are expected to serve as principal investigators (PI), and/or co-principal investigators (Co-PI, otherwise known as multiple-PI [MPI]) on research proposal submissions/ awards and do not require any additional or prior Department, OVCR Center, or University-level approval to apply for grants.

Access to WARF funds (Permanent PI status) is a separate application process available to Academic Staff (see Permanent PI status guidelines), including Research Professor track employees. Employees who held Permanent PI status prior to transfer to the Research Professor track retain Permanent PI status.

Research Professors (all levels) may serve as PI on research protocol applications to compliance committees, if appropriate and if incorporated into the policies and procedures of individual compliance committees.

Research Professors (all levels) may not be assigned regular classroom teaching responsibilities, although occasional classroom activities may be acceptable. These occasional teaching activities may include lectures, seminars, workshops, or short-term course instructor responsibility and should not exceed 50% at any given time. For the period in which short-term classroom teaching duties are assigned, an instructional title will be required at an appropriate effort level, in addition to approval from the University Committee following the campus dual role policy. Research Professors (all levels) may provide laboratory-based teaching and mentoring of graduate students, and may serve on graduate student committees, as consistent with Graduate School policies for academic staff committee members. Research Professors (all levels) may serve as graduate student primary advisors (see Graduate School guidelines; FP&P 3.05H). Research Professors (all levels) may mentor undergraduate student independent study experiences as described here: Directed/Independent Study for Undergraduates. Additional limits and restrictions may be created at the OVCR Center level.  Research Professors (all levels) are not required to perform service activities unrelated to research, but may participate on research-related committees, compliance committees (such as the IRB, SCRO, or IACUC), and oversight committees for research core or other research-focused facilities.

E. Appointment and Promotion Committee:

Each OVCR Center using the Research Professor title series should establish a Center Appointment and Promotion Committee. The composition and policies of each Center Committee should be described in a document created by the OVCR Center.

The OVCR Center should determine the number of committee members needed to provide efficient service to the Center. For any case that comes before the Center Committee, additional input may be sought and obtained from UW faculty or Research Professors who are subject-matter experts outside of the OVCR Center. The Center Committee should meet as needed, per requirements of the OVCR Center.

The Center Director, or designee, will use the recommendations of the Center Committee to forward recommendations to grant or deny appointments and promotions to the OVCR Appointment and Promotion Committee.

The OVCR Appointment and Promotion Committee will use the recommendations of the Center Director to advise the VCR. The VCR has authority to grant all promotions within the Research Professor track in OVCR Centers.

F. Mentoring/Oversight Committee:

A mentoring/oversight committee should be established when an Assistant Research Professor is appointed. It may continue, or be dissolved upon promotion to Associate Research Professor, based on policies established within the Center. The function of the mentoring/oversight committee is to encourage the professional development of the Research Professor, to suggest resources when needed to further research aims, to assist in removing barriers when they are encountered, to advocate for the Research Professor when needed, and to ensure that reasonable progress is made in their emerging research careers. A mentoring/oversight committee chair should be designated as determined by the Center Director. The Center Director should determine the number of committee members needed to provide appropriate guidance to the Research Professor. The committee should strive to include tenured faculty and Research Professors at a level of Associate or above and faculty in other tracks (e.g., Clinical Health Sciences [CHS]) at the level of Associate or above, as appropriate. If beneficial to the Research Professor and/or the committee, UW faculty/staff outside of the OVCR Center who have appropriate subject matter knowledge of the employee’s research interests may also be recruited to serve on the mentor committee. The mentoring/oversight committee is responsible for ensuring, guiding, and evaluating progress of the Research Professor.

G. Research Space:

For all Research Professor levels, there must be a written plan developed and implemented that is consistent with the research space allocation policies within the OVCR Center. Research space assignments should be appropriate for the scope of work of the Research Professor (all levels). Appropriate research space is an essential component of a successful research program.

H. OVCRGE Center Funding Responsibilities:

The OVCR Center must fund at least 5% of a Research Professor’s (all levels) salary from non-supported Center resources, in all appointment years, to cover effort related to proposal writing. In addition, any start-up costs for Research Professors are solely the responsibility of the OVCR Center. OVCR Centers should carefully consider their financial responsibility to the Research Professor in the event that their extramural research funding is not consistently sustained. Centers may also consider development of bridge funding mechanisms to allow retention of Research Professors (all levels) who require coverage of laboratory costs when external grant timelines are not aligned, based on the availability of resources.

I. Performance Review and Reappointment:

Research Professors (all levels) are appointed with the expectation that they will work toward the goals broadly outlined in this document. Research Professor track employees are expected to demonstrate high quality research standards, integrity, and productivity.

Performance reviews of Research Professor track employees must be completed annually in accordance with policies applicable to UW Academic Staff. Performance reviews for Assistant Research Professors will be performed by the Mentoring/Oversight Committee and reported to the Center Director’s office. Performance reviews of Associate Research Professors and Research Professors will be performed by a committee established by the Center Director. Actions regarding non-renewal, layoff, or termination follow UW–Madison Academic Staff Policies and Procedures ( that apply to these appointments.

J. Campus Guidelines for the Research Professor Track:

1. Appointment and Promotion Process:

Research Professor (all levels) appointments may be initiated for individual candidates by Center Directors, or by units within a Center.

Specific guidelines, processes, and metrics will be developed and published for each level by each OVCR Center. The guidelines, processes, and metrics should be consistent with the overall framework presented in this document and must be sent to the VCR for review and approval. Amendments/modifications to approved OVCRGCenter guidelines and metrics must also be approved by the VCR.

2. Appointment and Promotion Authority:

The VCR has the authority to approve appointments and promotions within the Research Professor track. All letters of appointment will be approved using standard OVCR Center HR practices, and will have content that follows existing University Academic Staff policies.

Any individual in the Research Professor (all levels) track may apply for an open tenure-track position without prejudice or preference. Similarly, Research Professors (all levels) may apply for open academic staff positions without prejudice or preference.

3. Appointments:

A. Review of a candidate’s credentials for hire or promotion at all Research Professor levels will be performed by the Center Director and a Center committee charged with these reviews, with additional input from faculty and researchers outside of these committees, if desired. All committee deliberations must be in accordance with guidelines presented in this document and guidelines established by the OVCR Center. In general, Research Professor track employees at all levels must demonstrate: (1) a solid record of research accomplishment that is highly regarded by scholars in their fields; and, (2) promise of continued, outstanding research.

For appointments at all levels, the OVCR Center review committee recommendation will be routed to the Center Director and then to the VCR for consideration, who has final approval of appointments and promotions at all levels.

A credential packet must be developed by the candidate to begin the appointment process for the Research Professor track (all levels).

The application packet should include:

1) A letter from the Center Director that describes: (a) alignment of the candidate’s credentials with all of the criteria noted in this document for the desired rank of appointment; (b) relevance of the candidate’s research program to the research mission of the Center; (c) identification of an external funding source for the candidate’s research; (d) identification of research space for the candidate’s research program; (e) commitment of the Center to provide at least 5% of the candidate’s salary to allow research proposal development effort.

2) The candidate’s CV;

3) One-page research statement from the candidate;

4) Three letters of recommendation solicited by the candidate.

Appointments may be part-time (less than 100% time and effort). The minimum time and effort can be determined by the appointing OVCR Center. At least 50% of total time/effort must be devoted to independent research.


B. Assistant Research Professors must have an earned research doctorate (PhD) or other terminal degree in their field and should demonstrate the criteria that follow:
1) An impressive emerging record of research products, and evidence of successful management and completion of stated objectives of previous research.

2) Strong potential for scholarly development.

3) Strong potential for continued acquisition of extramural funding as PI or Co-PI [MPI].

4) A productive academic record of peer-reviewed publications as primary and/or senior author.

5) Evidence of participation in relevant academic or professional meetings.

6) A track record, mindset, and training in ethical research practices.

7) No more than 50% of the appointment is split with service, responsibility to research cores, or teaching commitments because the main criterion for participation in the Research Professor title series is outstanding achievements or potential in the area of research.


C. Associate Research Professors and Research Professors must have an earned research doctorate (PhD) or other terminal degree in their field and should demonstrate the criteria that follow:
1) An impressive, sustained record of impactful research products.

2) National (Associate Research Professor) or international (Research Professor) recognition within the candidate’s discipline.

3) Successful, sustained management and completion of stated objectives of previous research.

4) Scholarly independence, where independence is based on the standard that defines independence in the respective OVCRGE Center.

5) Strong history of leadership in sustained extramurally funded research.

6) A strong and productive academic record of peer-reviewed publications as primary and/or senior author.

7) Evidence of participation and leadership in relevant academic or professional meetings and societies.

8) A track record, mindset, and training in ethical research practices.

9) No more than 50% of the appointment is split with service, responsibility to research cores, or teaching commitments because the main criterion for participation in the Research Professor title series is outstanding achievements or potential in the area of research.


4. Promotions:

A. Research Professors at the Assistant or Associate levels may put themselves forward for promotion with consultation with the mentoring/oversight committee
(Assistant) or Department Chair (Associate).

B. The OVCR Center may promote to the level of Associate Research Professor and later to Research Professor if approval is granted by the Center Director and VCR.

C. Please see above criteria for Associate Research Professor and Research Professor. Criteria must be met to consider a recommendation of promotion to the next level.

D. The OVCR Center will develop guidelines concerning the format and content required in a promotion dossier, to be created by the candidate.

E. The Center review committee will evaluate particular cases based on Center metrics for promotion.

F. The Center review committee will make a recommendation to the Center Director and then the VCR, who has authority to grant all promotions within the Research Professor track in OVCR Centers.

G. OVCR Centers with UW-Madison employees currently holding an honorific Research Professor title (honorific Associate Research Professor; Research Professor) will work with the appointing Center to determine potential mechanisms for transition to the Research Professor title series, as appropriate for each case.

H. Research Assistant Professors may remain at that rank throughout their career at UW-Madison. There is no “up or out” requirement for promotion.

5. Associate or Research Professor Promotion Dossier:

A. A dossier is the responsibility of the candidate. Assistant Research Professors should work with their mentor committee to create and approve the dossier prior to submission.

B. Once complete, the dossier is submitted to the Center Appointment and Promotion Committee.

C. A single PDF file should be created that contains all components of the dossier.

D. The dossier must contain the following components:
1) Letters of Evaluation: The Center Director should request all letters. Four to six letters of evaluation must be obtained from national or international leaders in the candidate’s research specialty area that address the scope and quality of the candidate’s scholarly productivity and impact. More than half of these letters must be “arm’s-length,” in that the letter writer has no significant relationship or prior collaboration with the candidate, and no interest in the outcome of the pending promotion. Please include a copy of the letter or email used to request letters of evaluation. All solicited evaluation letters received must be included in the candidate’s dossier.
2) Reviewer Table: In the dossier, include a table of all reviewers solicited for letters of evaluation. Identify reviewers by whether letters were received, declined, or if no response was received to the request. Include the name, rank, and title of each solicited reviewer, the name of his/her institution and department, and a brief description of why the reviewer was solicited and his/her stature in the field. Indicate if the reviewer is designated as arm’s length. If the solicited reviewer declined, please provide the reason given.
3) Research Statement: A 2-page statement by the candidate that describes and highlights the impact and significance of her/his research program.
4) Curriculum vitae: The candidate should highlight contributions made since the appointment or prior promotion.
5) Letter from the Center Director: The 1-2 page letter should provide: (1) an analysis of the candidate’s research impact and productivity, (2) dates of appointment at the Center, (3) the importance of the research program to the Center research mission, and collaboration with others in the Center, if any, (4) Appointment and Promotion Committee vote (for, against, abstain), and the appropriateness of the candidate for promotion in the Research Professor track.
6) Examples of research products, such as articles, software, etc., may be included with the dossier.