Drexel University Office of the Provost

Academic Policies

Full-time, Non-tenure Track Research Faculty Policy

Posted – 5 May 2008
Effective – 1 September 2008

1. Overview

This document defines and presents policies regarding the appointment, promotion, and evaluation of full-time non-tenure track Research Faculty at Drexel University.  Research Faculty are appointed to positions where their primary responsibilities are focused on performing research in the academic hiring unit. Research Faculty are generally expected to derive their salaries substantially or entirely from external funding from one or more research projects or creative productions.

These appointments are made without any expectation of tenure and years of service in these positions do not apply toward tenure if a Research Faculty member transitions to a tenure-track position.

Full-time non-tenure track Research Faculty can be appointed at or promoted to one of the following ranks:

  • Assistant Research Professor
  • Associate Research Professor
  • Research Professor

Full-time, non-tenure track faculty are hereafter referred to as “Research Faculty”.

2. Criteria for the Appointment of Research Faculty

These criteria for appointment of Research Faculty are to be used in conjunction with described, established procedures for Drexel University as set forth in University Academic Policies as well as with requirements and procedures for hiring as established in individual colleges and schools and any requirements set forth by accreditation organizations.

This section provides qualitative standards for appointments of Research Faculty. The varying degrees of competence expected at the various Research Faculty ranks are presented, including sources of evidence to be sought in making decisions about appointment.

Criteria for Research Faculty are defined by analogy with the research and/or creative expectations of the corresponding tenure-track faculty ranks. All positions are contingent upon the continued availability of external research or production funds. Research Faculty may teach, depending on institutional needs and/or personal goals, but are not required to do so.

The ranks for Research Faculty and descriptions of these positions are as follows:
  • Assistant Research Professor

    Appointment as an Assistant Research Professor position normally requires a doctorate or its equivalent in a related field and a demonstrated ability to carry out excellent independent research and/or creative work. The Assistant Research Professor reports to the Drexel faculty member(s) administering the project(s) from which their salary is derived, i.e., the principal investigator (P.I.) or co-P.I., Producer or Director of the grant or contract or the Department Head, Director or Dean of the academic unit within which the grant or contract resides. Professional activities are focused on topics directly related to the program area of the grant or grants providing support. An Assistant Research Professor may be a PI on a grant proposal, may supervise graduate students (but is not required to do so), and may serve on doctoral thesis committees.

  • Associate Research Professor

    Basic criteria for appointment as an Associate Research Professor are the same as for the Assistant Research Professor. However, salaries for individuals in this rank derive substantially or entirely from external funding from one or more research projects or creative work in which he or she is the P.I. or Co-PI, Producer or Director. This position normally requires demonstrated research experience and/or an extensive creative portfolio, plus a national reputation and evidence of quality and productivity, as evidenced by books, articles in refereed journals, works appearing in nationally recognized venues, or patents that demonstrate a level of performance normally associated with a mid-level career professional. An Associate Research Professor is expected to supervise graduate students, and may also supervise research staff and/or Research Faculty.

  • Research Professor

    Basic criteria for appointment as a Research Professor are the same as for the Associate Research Professor. However, individuals in this position will have substantial professional experience, high quality accomplishments and productivity, as evidenced by:

  • books, patents, articles, or other creative work published in refereed or comparable journals or screened, performed or exhibited in national or internationally recognized venues;

  • listing in a citation index where appropriate;

  • a national and international reputation as evidenced by active participation in prestigious advisory boards and professional societies.

Broad professional activities and strong funding are expected. A research professor will typically head a research group or major production and serve as a supervisor for graduate students.

3. Hiring and Promotion

Appointments of Reasearch Faculty may be made with approval of the Dean/Director and the Provost. A review is required for re-appointment. Research Faculty appointments and promotions must be made in compliance with all university policies.

3.1 Hiring

A Research Faculty member may be hired by a Project PI, Department Head, Institute Director, or College Dean, based on criteria at the discretion of the hiring unit (but always subject to university requirements and policies).

Appointment to a Research Faculty rank will be made by the Vice Provost for Research on the recommendation of a Department Head or Institute Director, endorsed by the relevant Dean as appropriate, following faculty review of the candidate. The faculty review committee will assess the qualifications of the candidate to hold that rank, using the criteria for research and/or creative performance and potential applicable at the time to tenure-track hires and promotion, except that solicitation of additional external references will normally not be required for a new hire. The recommendation of the committee will be forwarded to the Vice Provost for Research.

If a search is conducted by a PI for a research position with the expectation that a Research Faculty appointment will be sought for the successful candidate, then the relevant Department Head, Institute Director and/or College Dean must be informed and must agree prior to the initiation of the search process.

A candidate whose appointment to Research Faculty rank is denied may still be appointed as a research staff member with the approval of the Director/Dean and the Vice Provost for Research.

3.2. Expectations for Research Faculty Engagement in Academic Units and the University


Research Faculty are expected to develop and maintain outstanding research or creative works programs that are self-sustaining through external funding. Advising and supervision of graduate students is expected as a component of the faculty member’s research.


Research Faculty are expected to undertake service related activities directly related to their research activities in their departments/academic units, school or college, or the university. Research Faculty may also be asked to perform other service related activities but, if such service is required, the proportional amount of their time associated with that service will be paid for out of academic unit’s funds in accordance with the Drexel effort reporting policy. Service requirements should not exceed 5% of an individuals time without prior approval by the Provost.


Research Faculty are not required to teach. However, Research Faculty may participate in teaching activities with the permission of their direct supervisor. However, the proportional amount of time associated with this activity will be paid for out of the academic unit’s funds in accordance with the Drexel effort reporting policy.

3.3 Annual Review

Research Faculty will be required to complete the pertinent portions of the Faculty Annual Review form appropriate to their academic unit, for evaluation by the Department Head, Institute Director, and/or College Dean. Annual salary adjustments will be made on the basis of achieving research goals with consideration of available funding support and existing obligations in the funded projects.

3.4 Promotion

Assistant Research Professors will normally be considered for promotion during their fifth year in rank. If their promotion has not been approved within three months of the fifth anniversary of their original appointment their appointment will terminated.

Research faculty are eligible to apply for promotion after having served five years in a given rank. For promotion, research faculty shall undergo a formal review as set out below.

NOTE: For Research Faculty whose appointment is not associated with a particular department or program, the office of the Dean/Director shall oversee the application for promotion.

Promotion to the Rank of Associate Research Professor

Candidates for promotion to the rank of Associate Research Professor should have:

  1. Demonstrated excellence in their field; they should have shown significant relevant accomplishments with respect to publications, external funding, and/or creative works.

  2. Been involved in graduate student training and other professional service responsibilities relevant to their research activities within the department, the college/school, the university and related organizations and have worked successfully with other colleagues within the college and university.

  3. Be actively participating with colleagues and students in a community that focuses on intellectual and professional matters.

Promotion to the Rank of Research Professor

Candidates for promotion to the rank of Research Professor should have:

  1. Demonstrated continued success in their field with major accomplishments and leadership within the academic unit and university. This includes demonstrable national and international recognition of significant publications and/or widely recognized creative work as well as receiving major research funding as PI on research grants and/or contracts.

  2. Demonstrated continued professional development and professional service beyond that expected of Associate Research Professors. There should be evidence of leadership in the department, college, or university.

  3. Demonstrated continued intellectual growth and receptivity to new developments as well as an ability to stimulate colleagues and students to greater achievement. Candidates will have or will have shown an ability to work across disciplinary lines.

Sources of Evidence

These categories are intended as guidelines. Each hiring unit may establish more specific guidelines that relate to its expectations for professional activities.

In addition to the following sources, committees may also consider higher degrees completed by the candidate after the initial appointment.


Candidates must submit a research portfolio that includes the following sources of evidence, the candidate’s research/creative works philosophy, and reflections on research/creative works accomplishments: 1) the candidate’s resume or curriculum vitae; 2) copies of published manuscripts or creative works; 3) a list of research grants and/or contracts, where applicable, that indicate the amount of funding awarded, dates of activity, and an abstract of no more than 500 words describing the purpose of the research outcomes; 4) a list of affiliations with for-profit or non-profit organizations, where applicable, with which research or creative work is pursued indicating any funding, dates of activity, and an abstract of no more than 500 words describing the purpose and the outcomes of the projects pursued; 6) a list of patents submitted and awarded with abstracts of no more than 250 words describing the invention; and 7) awards.

Academic and Professional Activities

Sources of evidence which may be used regarding this criterion are: 1) service as a consultant; 2) service in an advisory capacity at government agencies and/or for-profit and non-profit organizations; 3) support for funded research or creative work; 4) mentoring of new faculty; 5) supervising, mentoring and/or advising graduate students; 6) presentations in public forums, e.g., publications, presentations, exhibitions, conferences, keynotes, etc.; 7) publications/creative scholarship/research; 8) exhibitions; 9) participation as an invited expert in seminars and lectures at other departments and universities or at national conferences; and 10) program leadership.

Procedures for Promotion

  1. Application for Promotion

    A Research Faculty member may present himself/herself for promotion by formal application in accordance with the timetable for promotion of Research Faculty established by the Provost and the unit for the next academic year; he/she must supply supporting documentation to the Promotions Committee as set out in this timetable. An individual may present himself/herself for promotion no more than once every two years (i.e.; an unsuccessful candidate may try again after a one year “time out”). Although the Department Head or Director should encourage faculty to apply for promotion when he/she deems it appropriate, the candidate may take the initiative and present himself/herself for promotion without the Department Head or Director’s initiative. Faculty who are considering proposing themselves for promotion are encouraged to have informal discussions with the Department Head or Director and with senior faculty who have previously gone through the promotion process.

  2. Composition of the Promotions Committee

    The Promotions Committee shall consist of at least three faculty, including at least one tenured or tenure-track and one Research Faculty at a rank equal to or higher than the rank applied for. If there are no eligible Research Faculty, the Department Head or Director shall nominate additional tenure-track faculty. The committee shall be appointed in accordance with the timetable for promotion of Research Faculty established by the Provost and the unit. A chairperson shall be elected by the committee from among the faculty representatives.

  3. Candidate Documentation

    Candidates for promotion will notify the Department Head or Director in writing on or before the date established in the timetable for promotion. The Department Head or Director will then convene the committee. Candidates will prepare proposals that address the criteria for the rank. Each candidate will establish a plan for documenting his/her case for promotion, and the candidate is responsible for providing documentation on time. Initial documentation must be provided by the deadline in the timetable for promotion. Candidates must adhere to any specific guidelines for materials that have been established by the department, program or college/school.

  4. Promotion Recommendations

    The Committee will hold an initial discussion with the Department Head or Director at the outset of the promotion review process. In addition, the committee will solicit external letters of recommendation from experts in the respective field of the Research Faculty member being considered. The Department Head or Director will be provided copies of all materials submitted to the committee. The committee will present promotion recommendations to the Department Head in accordance with the timetable. The Department Head will forward the recommendation, along with his or her recommendation to the Dean/Director of the academic unit. The Dean/Director will forward these recommendations along with his or her recommendation to the Provost in accordance with the timetable for cases in which promotion is recommended.

    Denials of promotion are not forwarded to the Provost. Additionally, the Dean/Director may decide not to forward a promotion recommendation to the Provost even though promotion is recommended by the Promotions Committee. Reasons may be substantive, or procedural. Candidates whose cases were denied in one year must complete another academic year before becoming eligible to apply again.

    The Dean/Director may decide to recommend promotion even though the committee did not so recommend. In that case the Dean/Director will call a meeting of the committee, discuss the situation with them, and, if so determined, forward the recommendation along with the committee's recommendation to the Provost.

    Candidates will be given copies of recommendation reports and will have an opportunity to respond.

3.5. Length of Appointment

Assistant Research Professor

  • Initial and renewal appointments at the Assistant Research Professor level are normally for one year, but with appropriate justification and approval of the Vice Provost for Research may be for up to 3 years.

Associate Rsearch Professor

  • Initial and renewal appointments at the Associate Research Professor level are normally for one year, but with appropriate justification and approval of the Vice Provost for Research may be for up to 3 years.

  • Promotion to this rank shall include a renewable contract of 1 to 3 years.

Research Professor

  • Initial and renewal appointments at the Research Professor level are normally for one year, but with appropriate justification and approval of the Vice Provost for Research may be for up to 3 years.

  • Promotion to this rank shall include a renewable contract of 1 to 3 years.

4. Transition to Tenure-Track

There is no explicit provision for conversion of a research-track position to tenure track, and no special status for Research Faculty applying for advertised tenure-track positions. However, a candidate's research, creative activities, funding, teaching, and service records will be taken fully into account in considering their application.

5. Non-reappointment or Termination of Employment

5.1 Non-reappointment

Where an appointment is not to be renewed, departments are required to follow the guidelines for non-reappointment presented on the website of the Office of the Provost: http://www.drexel.edu/provost/policies/nonreappointment.asp

5.2 Termination

An appointment can be terminated for the following reasons:

  1. Insufficient external funding to carry out a productive and competitive program;

  2. Failure to maintain excellence in quality or productivity of research or creative Productions; or

  3. Cause.

Any decision to terminate an appointment under this Section shall be at the discretion of the Vice Provost for Research. A Research Faculty member with more than five years of service to Drexel will be given written notice of termination at least six months prior to the end of the contract. Faculty with less than five years of service will be given three months written notice. In all cases, the university will make its best efforts to provide appropriate notice to the faculty member. No notice is given if termination is for cause, depending on the specifics of the case.

5.3 Institutional Commitment

When a Research Faculty member attains five or more years of continuous external funding after their initial appointment to a research track faculty position, the following conditions shall apply if funding is interrupted:

  1. The Research Faculty member will be given a provisional notice of termination immediately upon determination that insufficient external funding exists or is likely to occur.

  2. The Research Faculty member will be permitted to use his or her own research overhead account to support the operating expenses of the research group including the faculty member's own salary for a period of up to twelve months following the receipt of a provisional letter of termination.

  3. At the discretion of the supervising unit, the Research Faculty member may be supported at a level of up to three months of salary from that unit’s share of overhead return on the faculty member's research grants. Support from the supervising unit will be in the form of matching funds, and will become available after the corresponding expenditures from the PI overhead account and/or research account are substantially depleted.

  4. These provisions for support in section 5.3.12 and 5.3.23 will be contingent on the faculty member having one or more viable new or continuation proposals currently under consideration by funding agencies. The viability of such new or continuation proposals will be determined solely by the Vice Provost for Research.

  5. Provisions 5.3.1-5.3.4 will cease upon the restoration of external funding.

  6. If funding is not restored and provisions 5.3.12- and 5.3.43 have been exhausted, the contract will be terminated. In no case will termination be extended beyond 12 months from the date of the provisional letter of termination.

6. Research Faculty Responsibilities

Research Faculty are required to follow all policies of the department or program, the college/school, and the university with respect to instruction and faculty responsibilities.

7. Faculty Governance

The tenure-track faculty of a department, institute, school, or college may vote to grant Research Faculty voting rights in that academic unit. Research Faculty are not voting members of the university.

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