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Guidelines for Appointment & Promotion - Assistant Research Professor, Associate Research Professor, and Research Professor

The purpose of this document is to provide guidelines for the Division of Extension (Extension) to use for 1) appointments to a research professor title and 2) promotion within the research professor title series.

Research Professor Title Track Appointment Overview

Research professor is a non-tenure track title series 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.

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). A research professor appointment does not entail tenure or protections similar to those provided by tenure.

Appointments may be part-time (less than 100% time and effort). At least 50% of total time/effort must be devoted to independent research, meaning that the staff member should be certifying 50% or more of their time each year on research awards.

Independent research 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 intramural and/or 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 required to fund the majority of the effort associated with these appointments.

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

Any individual in the research professor track (all levels) 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.

The series includes assistant, associate, and full (no-prefix) ranks, and those holding the title of Research Professor may be nominated for the Distinguished title.

Appointment Responsibilities

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 and research integrity.

Research professor 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, college, or university-level approval to seek funding.

Access to Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) funds (via 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 before being appointed in 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 teaching responsibilities, although occasional teaching activities may be acceptable. These occasional teaching activities may include lectures, seminars, workshops, or short- term course instructor responsibility and should not exceed 50% of an employee’s effort at any given time. For the period in which short-term teaching duties are assigned, an instructional or outreach 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.

Research professors (all levels) may mentor undergraduate student independent study experiences.

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.

Research Space

For all research professor levels, there must be a written plan developed and implemented for research space. Research space assignments should be appropriate for the scope of work of the research professor (all levels).

Unit Funding Responsibilities

The unit must fund at least 5% of a research professor’s (all levels) salary from non- sponsored, unrestricted 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 unit. Units should also carefully consider availability of resources and their financial responsibility to the research professor if extramural research funding is not consistently sustained. Units may also consider development of bridge funding mechanisms to allow retention of research professors (all levels) who require coverage of research costs when external grant timelines are not aligned, based on availability of resources.

Research Professor Track Appointments and Promotions

Extension Guidelines and Processes

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 and achievements. Assistant or Associate Research Professors may remain in those ranks indefinitely, as appropriate for a given employee.

Research Professor Appointment and Promotion Review Committee

Extension will establish and maintain a Research Professor Appointment and Promotion Review Committee. Members of this committee are charged with reviewing and advising the dean on recommendations for appointments and promotions in the Research Professor track.

The Research Professor Appointment and Promotion Review Committee shall consist of no more than six members of the division that are appointed by the dean for three- year terms. The committee will include three academic staff members and three tenured faculty members comprised of one representative from each of Extension’s six institutes: agriculture, community development, health and well-being, human development and relationships, natural resources, and positive youth development.

Administrative support for the committee will be provided by the division.

The terms of the initially appointed committee members should be staggered, and the initially appointed chair will not have had prior experience on this committee. There will be no research professors available to serve on the initially appointed committee, but future academic staff committee members are expected to be research professors.

Appointment and Promotion Authority

The institute director will forward appointment or promotion requests to the dean, appropriate academic associate dean, and Extension Human Resources Director. The Extension Human Resources Director will distribute the request to the Extension Research Professor Appointment and Promotion Review Committee.

The Extension Research Professor Appointment and Promotion Review Committee will evaluate the qualifications of candidates submitted by institutes for appointments to and promotions within the research professor titles and subsequently report to the dean or dean’s designee in writing on the suitability of the candidates for appointments and promotions. The committee may seek input on candidates (beyond what has been submitted by institutes) from subject-matter experts among UW-Madison faculty, UW-Madison research academic staff, or from outside the university.

The dean or designee has the authority to approve appointments and promotions within the research professor track. All letters of appointment will be approved using standard Extension HR practices and will have content that follows existing Academic Staff policies and procedures.

Mentoring/Oversight Committee for Assistant Research Professors

A mentoring/oversight committee of at least two (2) persons shall be established by the unit director when an Assistant Research Professor is appointed, including a designated mentoring/oversight committee chair as determined by the unit director. The committee will strive to include tenured faculty and research professors at a level of Associate or above. If beneficial to the research professor and/or the committee, UW faculty/staff outside of the institute who have appropriate subject matter knowledge of the employee’s research interests may also be recruited to serve on the mentor committee.

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.

The duration of the Mentoring/Oversight Committee is at the discretion of the unit director. It is required that the Mentoring/Oversight Committee meet with each Assistant Research Professor at least once each year for at least the first 4 years of the Assistant Research Professor’s appointment. The research professor is responsible for ensuring the meeting is scheduled and occurs.

Performance Review

Annual performance reviews of research professors are required in accordance with policies applicable to UW-Madison Academic Staff and conducted by the supervisor for the position. The supervisor should engage with the chair of the Mentoring/Oversight Committee to obtain committee input ahead of the review meeting.

Criteria for Research Professor Track

Assistant Research Professors 

Assistant Research Professors must have an earned research doctorate (PhD) or other terminal degree in their field, or have a degree otherwise approved as qualified by the Dean, and should demonstrate the criteria that follow:

  • An emerging record of research productivity and evidence of successful management and completion of stated objectives of previous research
    • This includes but is not limited to publications, invited presentations given outside UW-Madison, citation history, patent disclosures licensed, translation of research to industrial practice, companies launched, etc.
  • Strong potential for independent scholarly development
  • Strong potential for continued acquisition of intramural and/or extramural funding as PI or Co-PI (otherwise known as Multiple PI [MPI]).
  • A productive academic record of peer-reviewed publications as primary and/or senior author or other recognized and impactful contributions to the field
  • Evidence of participation in relevant academic or professional meetings
  • A track record, mindset, and training in ethical and safe research practices
  • Demonstrated ability to establish, maintain and actively promote a climate and culture that is welcoming and supportive of all, i.e., the research environment established by the research professor must be free of harassment, bias, bullying, etc.

Associate Research Professors

Associate Research Professors must meet all Assistant Research Professor criteria, and should demonstrate the following:

  • An impressive, sustained record of impactful research productivity
  • Strong evidence of national recognition within the candidate’s discipline
  • Scholarly independence, where independence is based on the standard that defines independence in the respective unit
  • Strong history of sustained extramurally funded research as lead PI
  • A strong and productive academic record of peer-reviewed publications as primary and/or senior author or other recognized and impactful contributions to the field
  • Significant participation in relevant academic or professional meetings and societies

Research Professors 

Research Professors must meet all Associate Research Professor criteria and should demonstrate the following:

  • A distinguished, sustained record of impactful research as compared with the expectations of the Associate Research Professor
  • International recognition within the candidate’s discipline
  • History as lead PI in extramurally funded research of multi-investigator projects
  • Leadership in relevant academic or professional meetings and societies

Appointment and Promotion Dossiers

A credential packet must be developed to begin the appointment/hire process for the Assistant Research Professor title and to begin the appointment/promotion process for the Associate or Research Professor title.

Assistant Research Professor

The appointment/hire packet must include

  1. A letter from the unit director that describes:
    1. Alignment of the candidate’s credentials with all the criteria noted in this document for the desired rank of appointment
    2. Relevance of the candidate’s research program to the research mission of the unit
    3. Identification of an intramural and/or extramural funding source for the candidate’s research
    4. Identification of research space for the candidate’s research program
    5. Commitment of the unit to provide at least 5% of the candidate’s salary to allow research proposal development effort, and a detailed plan confirming their financial responsibility to the research professor if extramural research funding is not consistently sustained and/or if bridge funding mechanisms are necessary to cover program costs
  2. The candidate’s CV
  3. One-page research statement from the candidate
  4. Three letters of recommendation

Associate Research Professor and Research Professor

The appointment/hire packet must include:

  1. A letter from the unit director that describes:
    1. Alignment of the candidate’s credentials with all the criteria noted in this document for the desired rank of appointment
    2. An analysis of the candidate’s research impact and productivity
    3. Dates of appointment at the Assistant or Associate title (as applicable)
    4. The importance of the research program to the unit research mission, and collaboration with others, if any
    5. Identification of research space for the candidate’s research program
    6. Commitment of the unit to provide at least 5% of the candidate’s salary to allow research proposal development effort, and a detailed plan confirming their financial responsibility to the research professor if extramural research funding is not consistently sustained and/or if bridge funding mechanisms are necessary to cover program costs
  2. The candidate’s CV. For a promotional dossier, the candidate should include a summary statement noting contributions made since the initial appointment or prior promotion
  3. A two-page research statement by the candidate that describes and highlights the impact and significance of their research program
  4. Letters of recommendation
    1. For an initial appointment dossier: Three letters of recommendation
    2. For a promotional dossier: The unit director should request all letters. A minimum of three letters of evaluation must be obtained from national or international leaders in the candidate’s research specialty area that addresses the scope and quality of the candidate’s scholarly productivity and impact. At least two 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 appointment/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.

Examples of research products such as articles, software, etc., may be included with the dossier.

Research Professor Promotion

Research professors at the Assistant or Associate levels may put themselves forward for promotion with consultation with the mentoring/oversight committee (Assistant) or institute director (Associate). Criteria must be met to consider a recommendation of promotion to the next level. Assistant or Associate Research Professors who do not believe they are being treated fairly concerning promotion should consult UW-Madison Academic Staff Policies and Procedures for guidance.

The Research Professor Appointment and Promotion Review Committee will develop guidelines concerning the format and specific content required in a promotion dossier. The review committee will evaluate specific cases and make a recommendation to the dean and copy the Extension Human Resources Director and appropriate academic associate dean. The review committee recommendation will be reviewed by the dean or designee who has final authority to grant all promotions within the research professor track in Extension.

Research Assistant Professors may remain at one rank throughout their career at UW-Madison. There is no “up or out” requirement for promotions. Research professors who are under an inquiry by the division or an investigation by campus are not eligible for promotion until after the matter has been resolved satisfactorily.

Appeals Process

If the Extension Research Professor Appointment and Promotion Review Committee recommends against promotion, the basis for the recommendation will be provided in writing by the committee chair to the candidate’s institute director and the dean within two weeks of the meeting. The candidate may appeal the decision in writing to the committee within 60 calendar days of receiving a written explanation of the recommendation. In exceptional circumstances, the committee may recommend that the appeal be made directly to the dean. Appeals should provide new or additional information and a response to the issues raised by the committee.

After submitting a written appeal, the candidate may request a meeting with the committee to address the issues under appeal. If the committee upholds their decision to recommend against promotion, an explanation will be provided in writing by the committee chair to the candidate’s institute director and the dean within two weeks of the meeting. The candidate can submit a final written appeal to the dean within 60 calendar days of receiving the written explanation of the committee’s recommendation. The dean may seek the advice of an ad hoc committee before making a final determination.

Actions regarding non-renewal, layoff, or termination follow UW-Madison Academic Staff Policies and Procedures for these appointments.

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Keywords:non-tenure track mentoring oversight committee dossier appeal   Doc ID:118326
Owner:Nathaniel S.Group:Extension Handbook
Created:2022-05-04 11:36 CDTUpdated:2022-05-18 08:44 CDT
Sites:Extension Handbook
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