Guidelines for Appointment and Promotion of Research Professor

Approved by the Executive Committee on May 11, 2021


The purpose of this document is to: (1) provide a general framework for 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.

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, regulatory and administrative aspects of the research. 

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 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 extramural funding or 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. 

The Research Professor track can be used to develop specific independent research program needs for the institution.  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. 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.


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). Research professors at associate or full levels do not have voting rights at the School of Pharmacy Executive Committee; however, they can participate at the divisional or inter-divisional meetings at the discretion of the unit leader.

Description of Duties

Research: 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.

Funding: Research Professor track employees must seek and maintain independent research funding. Thus, research professors (all levels) must 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 divisional, school, or university-level approval to apply for grants. Access to WARF funds (permanent PI status) is a separate application process available to academic staff including Research Professor track employees. Employees who held permanent PI status prior to transfer to the Research Professor track retain permanent PI status.

Regulatory: 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

Graduate Teaching: 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:

Classroom Teaching: 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. Before 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.

Service: 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.

School of Pharmacy Responsibilities

Funding: The School of Pharmacy will fund 5% of a research professor’s (all levels) salary from non-supported school/division resources, in all appointment years, to cover effort related to proposal writing. In rare instances, start-up packages may be negotiated at the time of appointment with the dean. Bridge funding will be consistent with existing policies in the School of Pharmacy.

Research Space: Consistent with faculty in other tracks, office and research/laboratory space for Research Professor track employees will be negotiated at the time of appointment with the dean and the appropriate divisional chair.

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 unit metrics. Assistant or associate research professors may remain in those ranks indefinitely, as appropriate for a given employee. 

Performance Review and Reappointment

Performance reviews of Research Professor track employees must be completed annually. Performance reviews for assistant research professors will be performed by their Guidance and Oversight Committee and reported to the School of Pharmacy Executive Committee and the Dean’s Office (see below). Annual and five-year post-promotion reviews of research professors (all levels) will be performed by the School of Pharmacy’s Faculty Activity Review Committee. Actions regarding non-renewal, layoff, or termination follow UW–Madison Academic Staff Policies and Procedures that apply to these appointments.

Guidance and Oversight Committee

A Guidance and Oversight Committee will be established when an assistant research professor is appointed. The function of the Guidance and Oversight Committee is to encourage the professional development of the assistant research professor, to suggest resources when needed to further research aims, to assist in removing barriers when they are encountered, to advocate for the assistant research professor when needed, and to ensure that reasonable progress is made in their emerging research careers. A Guidance and Oversight Committee chair and additional members will be designated as determined by the established guidelines within the School of Pharmacy for CHS- and tenure-track faculty. The committee will strive to include tenured faculty and research professors at a level of associate or above and faculty in other tracks (e.g., CHS and tenure-track) 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 School who have appropriate subject matter knowledge of the employee’s research interests may also be recruited to serve on the mentor committee. The Guidance and Oversight Committee is responsible for providing recommendations for evaluation of progress of the assistant research professor to the School of Pharmacy Executive Committee.

Framework for Appointment and Promotion Process

Appointment Process

Requests for research professor (all levels) appointments may be initiated for individual candidates by division chairs or the dean. The Dean of the School of Pharmacy, after review of candidate’s credentials (see process below), has the final authority to approve appointments within the Research Professor track. All letters of appointment will be approved using standard School of Pharmacy HR practices, and will have content that follows existing university academic staff policies.

Promotion Authority

Consistent with professor title series in other tracks (CHS, tenure-track), applications for promotions will be reviewed by the School of Pharmacy Executive Committee, which will make a recommendation to the dean, who has final approval authority.

Review of Credentials

Review of a candidate’s credentials for appointment at all research professor levels will be performed by the Executive Committee, with additional input from faculty and researchers outside of the Executive Committee, if desired. The necessary credentials for appointment are described in this section.

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; (2) promise of continued, outstanding research. For appointments at all levels, the Executive Committee’s recommendation will be routed to the dean 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).

Assistant Research Professors must have an earned research doctorate (PhD) or other terminal degree in their field (e.g., PharmD) 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.

Associate Research Professors and Research Professors must have an earned research doctorate (PhD) or other terminal degree in their field (e.g., PharmD) 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 for other Professor series (CHS, tenure-track) in the School of Pharmacy.
  5. Demonstrating a 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 meeting sand societies.
  8. A track record, mindset, and training in ethical research practices.


  1. Research Professors at the assistant or associate levels may put themselves forward for promotion with consultation with the Guidance and Oversight Committee (assistant) or department chair (associate).
  2. The Executive Committee will make a recommendation to the dean, who has authority to grant all promotions within the Research Professor track in the School of Pharmacy
  3. 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.
  4. A subset of the divisional faculty committee and then the Executive Committee will evaluate particular cases based on School of Pharmacy metrics for promotion.
  5. Research assistant professors may remain at that rank throughout their career at UW–Madison. There is no “up or out” requirement for promotion.

Format for the Appointment or Promotion Packet

The appropriate divisional chair will work with the candidate to prepare a dossier for review of credentials. This dossier must include at least the following information:

  • Cover letter from the division chair or center director, clearly stating:
    • Candidate’s research contributions
    • Dates of appointment at the department/center
    • Voting outcome by the divisional committee
    • Research impact and productivity
    • Importance of the research program to the department/center’s mission
    • Define and document the responsibilities of the candidate as fully as possible
    • Identification of research space for the candidate’s research program
  • Letters of Evaluation (six or more letters must be provided)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Research statement by candidate
  • Summary statement from mentoring or post-promotion committee